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Month: June 2010

Scanning Update

Scanning Update

Ok, Ms. Smarty Pants, are your files perfect someone asked? Nope. And my system is not perfect to begin with, rather it is one that works for me and may work for you.

In my defense I have computer files dating back to 1987. Most have had had their file form changed a couple times. I used WordPerfect then – and still do – but I didn’t have Windows. I don’t remember if they had Windows yet at that time. Yes, hard to believe. These days when I have time I convert non photo files to pdf and try to rename them at that time.

I also have multiple lines with the same name. I have maternal and paternal Wood lines, unrelated. Ditto Harding and others. There are the Downings who were unrelated until about 1855 when they began intermarrying. Then there are common ancestors where I have multiple lines of descent. Abraham Lucas and David Clark [the mystery man who never got out of New Jersey] are two examples.

You need to make a basic plan, using logic that makes sense to you and that you can remember, and adapt it to your situation as these things arise. Consistency is the most important element.

How are the pictures coming? I have maybe – maybe – half of the boxed photos scanned. We are talking literally thousands of pictures. Only a small portion are named. I have an idea for the that when the scanning is done. I have found duplicates and pictures that there is no reason to save – I had a fine time when I first got a digital camera. Not all of the pictures are genealogically related of course.

I have found some amazing old photos I didn’t even know I had. There are people I don’t know who are probably related. There are people I don’t know but I am certain they are not related. And there are so many photos of one cute little girl that even I am getting tired of her. At this point I feel like just scanning and naming all the pictures will keep me busy until at least 2025. And with the SnapScan the scanning is now easy.

Why name in the same order, ie, surname, first name, type, date, location? One reason is to make sure you put everything in the name. Another useful reason is to sort them. Example, if named properly the following files will sort as follows:

Downing John census 1790 Westmoreland Pennsylvania.pdf
Downing John census 1810 Madison Ohio.pdf
Downing John census 1820 Madison Ohio.pdf
Downing John census 1830 Logan Illinois.pdf
Downing John land 1803 Madison Ohio.pdf
Downing John land 1821 Logan Illinois.pdf

and so on. It makes it handy to see what you have.

Digital Organizing

Digital Organizing

You’ve been scanning away. Time to organize. If you follow the outlines of this flexible system you will always be able to find your digital documents. Pictures are a separate topic.

I use an external hard plugged into a USB port for my genealogy. It keeps my genealogy all in one place, can be easily removed and taken with me if needed and – this is important – it gets automatically backed up with my offsite backup procedure. It also makes it easier to create your own filing system because you don’t have to fight with your operating system’s idea of where things should be filed.

Name your people files in the following manner: birth surname, first name, type date location. An example: Downing William census 1860 Chester.pdf. I suggest you stick to surname then first name. If you want a different order for the other information that’s fine. There is no right or wrong. You are the one who has to find the documents later. Just be consistent.

The key, at least in my experience, is to be consistent. Consistency trumps just about everything. If you use a numbering system the number should be the first word in the file name. I don’t use a numbering system. It’s just one more thing to organize and remember but if a numbering system works for you do it.

Make eight directories, one for each birth surname of your great grandparents. Keep in mind that if you are doing this for your children that would 16 directories. Put everything pertaining to that ancestor in that folder. If you have a lot of information on ancestors prior to your great grandparents you may chose to make a separate directory for additional surnames. It doesn’t matter how many directories you make. This is digital. You have the room. Do what works for you.

I hear you. What about great grandmother Jane who was born a Smith and married a Jones? Put her in Smith. If you want to put a copy in Jones go for it. It’s digital. Duplicates aren’t an issue.

Also make directories for cemeteries, census, birth, marriage, death, land, etc. If you collect funeral cards make one for those. My census file has subdirectories for each federal census. A copy of all census documents I have is in that directory. Another copy of the individual page is in the appropriate surname directory. For documents in these files the name might be 1880 Census Illinois Logan Laenna.pdf. Illinois is obviously the state, Logan is the county and Laenna is the township. Using spaces between words makes it easier to find them through a digital search if needed.

Get the idea?

Now go to http://www.voidtools.com/ and download the free Search Everything. If you goofed in spelling but you included all the elements you can search on any one of the elements and find the file.If you misfiled it you can still find it. Search Everything only searches files on your computer, including the drives attached by USB. It will not search network attached storage or home servers.

Casefile Clues

Casefile Clues

There are a lot of blogs out there, good, bad and indifferent. Some feel they have to write something every day whether they have something to say or not. Some get paid to write. Some blogs have paid sponsors. Some of us just write when we have something we want to share, no schedule.

Casefile Clues
is written by Michael John Neill. He writes one a week about his research. Most of the specific issues, like post Civil War immigration, are totally irrelevant to my research but there is something to learn in watching his process as he moves along. He calls it a casestudy.

He doesn’t have a staff. His day job is math teacher. There are typos and mistakes and the blog may be late but he always catches up. There are no ads, he has no agenda and he is not pushing any company. I find it a refreshing.

I also really like his genealogy tip of the day at http://genealogytipoftheday.blogspot.com. You can subscribe to those free by RSS feed in your feed reader. They always give you something to think about, probably something you have not thought about, or at least not in that way.

Neill also leads research trips to Salt Lake City and Ft. Wayne and he speaks at genealogy societies.