Pam Journey, a genealogy friend of mine, is a whiz at organizing her records. Pam can look up any source citation on her genealogy software, then walk over to her massive collection of three-ring binders and turn straight to the original record. I should be so lucky.
This year, in yet another attempt to organize my genealogy research, I’m in the process of digitizing as many records as possible, then maintaining a master file containing the name of the digital image as well as a brief description of the record. For this phase of the game plan, I’m just using my word processing program.
To help my efforts, I just bought a new scanner that came with the usual software, as well as an OCR (optical character recognition) package. Scanning with OCR software allows me to scan a text, then go in and actually make revisions or additions. For example, after I’ve scanned a page from a book or article, I can make notes, or digitally highlight the interesting portions in yellow.
My second phase of attack is organizing the thousands of digital photos I’ve taken. Among the shots are those of tombstones, my hometown of St. Joseph, Mo., family treasures, my genealogy travels and places my ancestors lived.
In addition to simply indexing the photos, I want to caption and date them, as well as add any notes. For example, when I was in Lincoln County, Kan., I crossed a river that played a role in a 100-plus-year-old family story. I pulled the car off to the side of the road so I could walk back and take a picture up the river. A highway patrolman stopped behind me, thinking something was wrong with my car. When I explained what I was doing, he stood in the road and stopped traffic in both directions so I could stand in the middle of the bridge and get the shot. Of course, that story will now become part of the photo—and my own family stories.
There are several excellent digital photo albums on the market, however, I’m currently using Jasc’s Photo Album to organize my photo directories by subject and keyword. Then I’m importing the best shots into my genealogy software. Another program I’m trying is Easy Thumbnails (a freebie download). This program will create a thumbnail of any of your digital images—a handy way to view all of your same-subject photos without taking up a lot of hard drive space.
And for more tips on organizing your genealogy computer files, see the February 2004 Family Tree Magazine. Other organizing/storing suggestions:
• Kodak’s Tips on Storing Digital Images
• Organizing Digital Images
• Archiving Digital Files
• ArchImage (freeware image cataloging program that creates HTML pages)
• Cheez (freeware for album creation and management)