FamHist Blog

Family History Research Hints and Tips

New Family Search and affiliates

The announcement of the ‘New’ FamilySearch website is stirring a lot of interest throughout the world.

I have been a beta tester of the new design for a long time and am excited to see it be revealed to the rest of the world. It provides a unique forum and repository for the lineage of anyone who wants to participate. I’ve always found that my family history research intellect is dramatically increased when I am part of a cousins group who are all trying to find the same ancestors.

Each cousin in the team brings a unique research skill set to the table often along with local research resources. As the group ‘meets’ via e-mail, chat rooms and in video conferences, the sum of their ability to knock down ancestral ‘brick walls’ truly is greater than the ‘whole’ of their individual skills.

The New FamilySearch website is based on that principle and it works! In future months and years, you will read of many repositories, websites, etc. partnering with the LDS FamilyHistory Society in an effort to post links and images online via the site. The potential is staggering.. Click here to read the Deseret News article about the recent affiliate announcement.

Here are some examples:

Two more large family history entities have announced that they are partnering with the New FamilySearch…

The World Vital Records site (created by the original Ancestry creators) and the Ellis Island records site will both be available at branch family history libraries….. including all images on them … at no cost… Can’t wait for the New FamilySearch (NFS) to come live in our area…

The Ellis Island site has received 10 billion hits since it came live in 2001… Obviously there is a lot of interest in the immigration information for many ancestors of U. S. citizens. You can review the indexes on the site for free right now, but will have to either pay to see the images today or wait until NFS rolls out to see them at no cost..

We’ve talked about making postings on Genforum as you look for information on your ancestors. World Vital Records has created a social network for family history website called FamilyLink that identifies researchers by geographic areas in the world, country, etc.

The idea behind the site is a type of the ‘Pay It Forward’ activity that I’ve discussed in my earlier messages. In this case, the payment comes from site users who are willing to do local family history related ‘look ups’ for someone else. Thus, if you need someone to look for record in Australia, you’d contact one of the FamilyLink members who live in Australia in the area where the record is located. If someone needs something from a record, etc. near you, you may receive a request from another site user who lives somewhere else in the world. The common currency is the willingness to …. ‘Pay It Forward’… You can’t be hurt by spending a little of your time helping someone else even if you never request or receive any help in return… The currency involved in this type of work always retains its full value (with interest).. You already know the concept and the ‘rest of the story’.

You may want to sign up. Listen to CEO Paul Allen’s comments on the home page of the World Vital Records site for further detail.

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25 May 2007 Posted by | FamilySearch | 1 Comment

Links and great finds

We’ve talked about the vast family history resources on the web. Here are more sites that are worth visiting and bookmarking. Be sure to try the BYU Relationship Finder site..

Do you need a genealogy form including just the census records headers? You’ll find them here BYU Genealogical Resource Forms

Have you ever wanted to print a large family chart? Just upload your gedcom file to BYU One Page Genealogy Printing and they will create one for you at a reasonable cost.

Ever wonder if you are related to Kings, Queens, Prophets and Apostles? Just create a free account on the BYU Relationship Finder site and it will calculate your relationship based on records in the Ancestral File, etc.

Would you like colored family history charts printed by a professional? Even the Mary Hill colors are supported by the Generation Map site.

A fellow researcher has created a good family history links site that has a great section related to involving children in family history. See it here

Another researcher, Sandra Jarvis, has posted a very good links page that shows FREE records web sites. Take a look. You’ll probably find a link that you’ve always hoped to find…

Are you looking for ancestors in the UK / Scotland / Ireland but need help? Create a free login to RootsChat... They are almost always quick to respond and offer usable suggestions..

An alternative site to Ancestry.com has been created by three of the founders / early employees of Ancestry. The site now contains over 100 million records and currently costs $48 for a two year subscription. The World Vital Records site is worth a quick review / evaluation.

Did you have a family member on the Titanic? The ships records are found free here.

Are you struggling to find your Norwegian ancestors as they made the ‘hop’ across the pond? You’ll probably find them or some good suggestions in your quest on the Norwegian Heritage website.

Are you having a hard time finding your Jewish ancestry? JewishGen may be the answer.

Many of us have Danish ancestry. Here are three of sites that will help in your Danish ancestral Quest… Danish Roots, Danish State Archives and our old favorite, Danish Census, Emigrants and Probate Records.

And lastly, the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors site by the National Park Service. Here’s a hint.. After you click on the home page, look to the titles on the right side of the title bar on the new page. Click on the category you want… soldiers, sailors, cemeteries, etc. The links are a bit hidden in the site design.

20 May 2007 Posted by | Research Tips | Leave a comment

Research Guidance

When we are struggling in our research, we often forget that there is an excellent resource available on the web….. FamilySearch Research Guidance. If you haven’t used the Research Guidance files in the past, take a few minutes and see if they hold the hints or ‘guidance’ that you need to find your ancestors.

Let’s walk through the process.

In our example, lets look for immigrants who entered Nova Scotia, Canada sometime around 1810.

  • 2. Click on the ‘Search Tab’ and then click on ‘Research Guidance’ in the blue space below the tab
  • 3. Click on ‘Canada’
  • 4. Click on ‘Nova Scotia, Canada’
  • 5. Now what? Only Births, Marriages and Deaths are listed…. We are interested in ship passenger records. That’s ok… Just click on Births – 1760 – 1811….. Hmmmm… No passenger records are listed here, so let’s click on Births 1812 – 1865. Good… there is a link to ‘Passenger Lists and Border Crossings’.
  • 6. Click on ‘Passenger Lists and Border Crossings.
  • 7. Look at that!…. the top link is ‘Nova Scotia Immigrants to 1867’. When we click on that link a list of book numbers for the Family History Library are listed. It looks like it is time to plan a trip to Salt Lake.
  • 8. Also look at the list of other possible research resources on this page! Good stuff!

Again, since most of us haven’t used the Research Guidance listings in the past or forget to use them, take a look at them today and see if there are any suggestions to help in your research.

19 May 2007 Posted by | FamilySearch | Leave a comment

Oral Histories / Interviews


Today is a good time to prepare your oral history interview tools and questions for the
coming summer family reunions and similar gatherings. Many if not most of your grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., that you want to interview will be at these events. If you plan ahead, you can schedule an hour or so in a private setting with them to record the interview.

If the timing for an interview at the reunion doesn’t work, then make sure to set a date and time for the interview while talking to them face to face at the reunion. In my personal experience, if you fail to set the interview date never complete the interview this summer, you will probably never have the opportunity again. I don’t know the law behind this, but it seems to be 90+ % accurate.

What do you need?

Create a list of questions you want to ask during interviews. You may find large question lists if you search the web for “family history interview questions” if you are momentarily brain dead.

Tape recorder or digital audio recorders. Make sure it is working. Turn it on and record your own voice reading the newspaper if nothing else… although I recommend that you tell some of your own memories, stories, etc., Become familiar with the recorder, its shortcomings and its strengths. If you don’t have a directional microphone, BUY one. They are very inexpensive and are an essential tool. If you rely on the microphone built into the recorder, you will no have a good recording. It picks up all the sound in the room. You want a microphone that is directional so you can focus it on the person you are interviewing.

Interview your spouse. Get them to tell stories about their childhood or about funny events in the lives in your children. Use this interview as a learning experience so you will have a more successful recording session when interview your extended family member(s). You’ll quickly learn how to position the recorder so you can keep an eye on the amount of tape left, yet not have the recorder as a focus item in the eye the interviewee, etc.

Next, trade places with your spouse and have them interview you. You’ll quickly learn what questions and techniques work and don’t work from the perspective of the interviewee.

Use this as a Family Home Evening activity… Interview your children. These interviews will literally be priceless as time goes on.

Learn how to position and operate your video camera if you plan to use it. Put the camera just behind you to one side or the other. Set it up so your head isn’t in the frame.

It is essential that you practice your interviewing skills and equipment at home before you interview someone else if you hope to have a successful interview experience with your extended family.

Stock extra audio / video tapes, extra batteries, an extension cord, etc., in your interview kits. Put your list of interview questions in a 1/2″ binder along with some extra blank lined paper for notes during the interview process. That sounds like a lot of work!

It is a little work, but the rewards are worth more than a fortune over time.

You will be capturing the voice, image, stories and maybe the testimony of a someone that you love. They will thank you for the opportunity when you send them a copy of the interview. Their family and your own family and descendants will be extremely grateful that you took the initiative to interview these loved ones. Plan on transcribing the audio recording to text. You have to do it. It needs to be written and shared with others so that it has a chance to survive over time. Our daughter is transcribing some recordings that I made recently. Her husband called me yesterday and reported on a FREE software tool that slows down digital recordings that you have copied to your computer. The Software is called Express Scribe. Download the installation file and if you don’t want to purchase the add on packages, simple DON’T include any checks in the 4 boxes that offer the software during the installation process. It is that simple and the software works!

A good podcast / discussion website about audio histories is located at Family Oral History. The site has all the articles that they have published for the past three years, so you’ll have plenty of examples of what works and what doesn’t work. Bookmark this site in your web browser.

RootsTV has an excellent video about interviewing. Take 30 minutes out of your day and watch it. I promise that it will help you learn the skills and inspire you to start your own interview project. See it here While you are on this site, search for ‘Interview’ for additional instructional shows and resources. They are invaluable. I especially enjoyed the short program about Interviewing found here.

It is easy to put this off. You’ll always be happy that you did. Guaranteed!

19 May 2007 Posted by | Research Tips | Leave a comment

Pay It Forward


Most of us are ‘beholding’ to someone else for some if not much of our ancestral knowledge. Mom, Aunt Fran or Uncle Johnny collected family history information for years and eventually you received a copy of their work. You’ve added to that ‘starter seed’ of data, photos, histories, etc., since, but few folks actually start their ancestral quest from ‘scratch’.

We are universally grateful to those who collected that family history even if they had some errors in their data. They had the foresight to not throw away their descendants ‘seed corn’, and from their sometimes meager data, great family history collections have grown.

Genealogy / family history research shouldn’t be a solitary activity. Many minds make research easier if they coordinate their research goals and jointly review the results for errors, speculation as well as true facts. It is always good to have one member of the team be slightly skeptical … the challenger of the accuracy of data. As long as the team understands that they need the alternate view of the data, they will be much more effective in finding their true ancestral lineage. Folks always want to find the connection to someone famous or an ancestral tree the extends far back in time, but before we claim these links, they need to be true.


I’ve mentioned the website Find-a-grave in earlier notes. I like the site because it is user driven and the users are folks who love family history and helping other people. The active participants of the site are constantly posting burial data and photos of headstones for the use of others. These active site users are a team of typically unrelated people working toward the goal of sharing the burial data that they have in their area. The pay? Nothing monetarily, but their efforts produce good ‘karma’ if nothing else.

Find-a-grave posters are using the site to ‘pay it forward’. Pay what forward? It is the repayment of the debt they owe someone else who collected the ‘seed data’ and shared it with them. They are paying forward all of the kind genealogy deeds that they have received from others. Other current and future researchers can now benefit from the burial and headstone data found in the cemeteries they have visited when it is posted on the find-a-grave site.

This past week, my wife and I visited two cemeteries in our area. I took photos of the headstones while she made sketches of the old markers of our ancestors. I’ve now posted the photos of almost every headstone in the Alpine, Utah cemetery on find-a-grave as a result of these excursions. It was important to me to do this because I have received photos of family headstones taken by other family history researchers in locations that I can’t visit. In their notes to me, these wonderfulfolks have explained that they are just trying to repay the kindnesses they have received in their own research. Although they ‘only’ shared photos with me, the photos are of ‘high value’ in my own ancestral quest. Hopefully, the photos I’ve posted will be of equal high value to other researchers who are trying to find information on their ancestral families.

When you next visit a cemetery, take photos of the headstones surrounding the resting place of your ancestors and family. When you get home, take a few minutes and post them on find-a-grave. It won’t take too much time away from other activities and eventually your forward payment will circle round and you’ll be the beneficiary of your own kind acts. Guaranteed…

13 May 2007 Posted by | Research Tips | Leave a comment

Family History TV on your computer


RootsTV

Did you know that you can watch TV on your computer? Many commercial programs provide full shows on their sites, but my favorite WebTV site is RootsTV. Based here in Utah, the programming is created by family history researchers from around the world. When I last counted, there were 23 separate family history channels on this site. Turn the sound up and stroll through the site. Click on the graphics on the right side of your screen to choose the channels.

I can safely guarantee that you’ll find programs of interest on RootsTV. If your connection speed is slow, just click on the play button and when the progress bar has partially filled, point to the bar and slide the button back to the beginning. I’m watching the Ancestors TV series as I write this note. Take time to throughly explore the site. There are fascinating stores buried all over the site. If you can’t sit to watch a full program, start it running and listen while you work…

Old Photos

If you are like me, you have a ton of old photos that you’ve: 1. Inherited through the years 2. Found at garage sales or antique shops or 3. Rescued from your grandparents attic / basement, etc. after their death. The old photos are like GOLD — IF you know the names of the folks in the photos. Unfortunately, most of the time, no one wrote names on the back of these old photos. (We all know that you always write names and dates on the photos you take … right?) How do you find out who these folks are? Ask surviving ‘old’ family members as a starting place. If you don’t have success there then you may want to….

* Scan the photos and post them on Dead Fred under the ‘Mysteries’ section. Folks who visit the site may recognize the people in your photos and will post their identities. Be sure to post all the knowledge you have about the photo to help narrow down the possibilities.

* While visiting Fred, troll through the surname section and see if someone has posted photos of any of your ancestors / relatives. I found several of my extended cousins photos there a while ago and knew some of their living descendants. When I alerted them to the photos, they called me ‘Santa’. They thought all photos of their ancestors had been destroyed. Good Stuff!

Photos in general

We all take a lot of photos in the course of a year. This year, remember to take photos of old family homes, headstones, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Get in the practice of taking your camera with you to family events, on Memorial Day visits, etc. You’ll be happy you did. Once you have the photos, scan them if they are on paper. Link your digital images to people and events in your genealogy database and your reports will look even better.

Homesteading and BLM Lands

Did your ancestor(s) homestead or obtain land in the west from the Federal Government? Take a look at the BLM Land Office Records site. In many cases, the original documents is posted for land patents. If not, the legal description of the property is shown.

I’ve found many pieces of property that were obtained by my great grandfathers. I was surprised to find that my great grandmother obtained several mineral properties after my great grandfather had died! Who knew? Here’s one of the pages showing properties my great grandparents obtained in California. This information has helped me add additional story patterns in their life stories…

* Click on theSearch Land Patentslink on the green bar to start your search…

Veteran’s Gravesites

Do you have family members who served in the U. S. Military? They and their families may have been buried in Veteran’s Cemeteries. Two years ago, I found one of my long, lost great uncles buried in the veterans cemetery near San Francisco. Last year, the records for an other family members were posted from a cemetery near Seattle.

* To see if your ancestors / family are listed on the site, click here...

Parishes in England

Are you looking for the name of parishes and church buildings in England? If you had ancestors in England the answer is YES. The free Parish Locator program is extremely useful in finding parishes in the UK. In addition to this program, you can find parishes on the web. As an exercise, try finding one of your ancestors using these steps..

* First look on the GENUKI Church Database site. Just type in the name of the town / parish and choose the county. Hit ‘Search’ and the list will appear. If there were multiple places with the same or similar name, you’ll need to click on the down arrow and choose the location you want to get the listings.

* Next, go to the Family History Library Catalog and find the film number for the birth, marriages, deaths in that parish / church. Order the films and search for your ancestor(s) record(s).

Hopefully, you’ll find something new. Maybe even a ‘new’ ancestor.

11 May 2007 Posted by | Research Tips | Leave a comment

Tools and Views


I’ve spent part of two days helping some cousins get started in family history research this week. Both of them had some experience with family history software, so we focused on some other software tools to help in their quest.

Both of these sisters and I are now in a research ‘team’ working on our common ancestry. We are using e-mail and the telephone to coordinate our research efforts and have already enjoyed several research finds. Team up with your cousins whenever you can… you’ll be surprised with your joint ‘finds’.

Here is the free software they installed to assist in their research efforts. (The titles are links to the software web sites)

Faststone Image Viewer

This free photo editing / organizing software is Powerful. It is amazing that it is free. If you decide to use it, the controls are found by pointing to the 4 sides of the screen.

The new team mates love this tool and are already using it to clean up, crop, etc. old family photos. (and they are sharing the results with me!)

Irfanview

Free …. A fast, easy to use Image Viewer. Add the plugin’s from the site and you can also use it to listen to music, view video’s. It is a great program that I’ve used for several years.

Transcript

Free — View census images, hand written documents, etc. in the upper window while you type the transcription in the lower window. You can save the transcription as a text file or copy and paste the text to an event in your family history software. Try it. You’ll like it. The link on this page is new. I talked to the author in the Netherlands yesterday and he has just moved his website to this new address.

Opera Web Browser

Free — Firefox is my web browser of choice, but I use Opera more and more. It is extremely customizable. I’ve found that I use it most by having Opera ‘read’ web pages to me by using a simple voice plug-in from the Opera site. Now when I’m working on my records and have found a site with a history about my ancestor, area history, etc., I just highlight the text that I want to hear and let Opera read to me while I continue to work. (I even ‘read’ the histories on my own site when working on that individual… They bring many clues and ‘To-Do’s’ to mind, thus enhancing my ancestor detective efforts..)Opera voiceera has built in e-mail if you want an ‘all-in-one’ program. If not, just don’t turn it on in the settings. You don’t hear as much about Opera, but it is a solid program that usually ‘pushes’ the other popular browsers to keep up…

Google Earth

Free — If you have a fairly fast Internet connection and aren’t using Google Earth already get it! Google Earth lets you tour the world from your chair at home. I use it to plot the homes, headstones, migration, etc. of my ancestors. The new FamilySearch website has integrated Google Earth photos with family events plotted on them. I use Google Earth to scan the area for rural cemeteries, battle grounds, etc. associated with my family. You can often find them looking at aerial photos when an address description is almost useless.

Already have Google Earth installed? Great. Click on the attached file and press the ‘Play’ button in Google Earth to tour a few burial locations for some of my family. Now it is your turn to plot your own family homesteads, graves, etc. It is easy. Just read the help file… My attached file is simple, but you can easily make very detailed files if you want…

I have plotted all of the current temples and most of the announced temple locations in Google Earth files. Connie and I will never physically visit all of them with so many now in existence, but with Google Earth, we can ‘visit’ them from a satellite view..

When you are looking for towns, etc. surrounding a known ancestral location, consider using Google Earth. You’ll be surprised how much a visual ‘lay-of-the-land’ can help you determine which little town or or larger city might have been the repository of family records, etc..

Lastly, a reminder to visit the Utah Digital Newspapers or a similar site for other locations. Thousands of new images have been added to this site recently. In less than an hour, I found the obituaries of my great grandparents and my wifes great grandparents, as well as many other references to family members.

9 May 2007 Posted by | Research Tips | Leave a comment

Life Browser and other goodies


The folks in the FamilySearch Labs are at it again. I’m certainly happy to see the church turn this small group ‘loose’ to create wonderful web based tools for Family History Research…..

Recently, they asked for comments on a new tool they are creating called ‘Life Browser‘. When I looked at it, I immediately noted that it could be integrated with the new FamilySearch that I’ve been beta testing for the past year. I think you’ll immediately see the possible ‘magic’ in the program. Go to the FamilySearch Labs website and click on ‘Life Browser’. Turn up the sound on your speakers (one of the items has a voice / slide show) and browse away. Remember that ALL of the buttons, arrow heads, etc. on the site function or will function in the final product. If you loose the pedigree view while browsing, look for the little down arrow near the top left of the page and click on it to drop the pedigree frame back in place.

While you are on the FamilySearch Labs website, take a few minutes to look at the beta version of the Pedigree Viewer. I’ve mentioned this program earlier. Get ready to zoom around the pedigree by changing the views, highlighting direct lines, etc. Have fun. You can’t hurt anything by clicking away..

Lastly, while on the site, be sure to click on the FamilySearch Indexing... Yes, this is a ploy on my part to get you interested in becoming an Indexer, but even if you can’t at this time, visit anyway and see if there is anything of current interest…

If you see something that you like… tell the folks using the Feedback link on the page. If you see something that doesn’t work… tell them about it. It is being designed for users and they enjoy getting input from the end users.

7 May 2007 Posted by | Research Tips | Leave a comment

Digital storage media


If you haven’t experienced failures in your storage CD’s or DVD’s yet, you will. It is just a matter of time. I’ve seen more than a dozen of my genealogy backup CD’s fail during the past 18 months.

So, what did I do wrong? I burned the data to a ‘good’ quality CD, wrote on it with a permanent pen or label and then stored the disks in a CD storage case made by CaseLogic, standing upright in a cool dark place with no pressure on the case. So I did everything right …. right? Well, some folks argue that the permanent ink will cause a failure in the CD, but that isn’t necessarily true… It depends on where you write and many other factors… At least it isn’t as bad as stick on labels..

Let’s look at where the data is written on a CD or DVD. If you hold a CD in a horizontal position and look at it, you really only ‘see’ the plastic disk in its construction. The data is actually written on the underside of the foil that we associate with the top of the disk. And when I say foil, it is very thin foil when compared to the aluminum foil in our kitchens.

We see folks throwing CD’s and DVD’s down on desks, etc., stacking ‘stuff’ on them, and not even think that the music, movie, data is only a few thousandths of an inch below the surface. I’m surprised that CD’s and DVD’s last as long as they do. We often see folks prying their CD’s and DVD’s out of the storage cases by pulling up on one side bending the entire disk. Since the foil is so thin, every bend of this nature tears the foil storing the data in thousands of tiny cracks, guaranteeing an early death of that disk.

Additionally, the ‘good’ blank CD’s and DVD’s that we buy at the store aren’t really that ‘good’. They weren’t designed as archival media, but rather for short term storage. Remember how many floppy disks you’ve thrown away in the past when they ‘failed’? The same logic holds true for the standard CD / DVD we use today. They are good for so many uses / months and then we toss them….

Knowing that your hard drive IS going to fail, how are you backing up all your genealogy, photos, etc.? Using the right media will go a long way to insuring that the data and photos aren’t lost.

Dick Eastman wrote an article on this subject a while ago. See his article about this problem here.

Dick references another article about buying storage media created with special dyes that greatly enhances the life of a CD / DVD. Read that article here.

Did I buy a stack of DVD’s made using this dye for my data storage? You better believe it! I have too much time and money invested to loose my data because my carefully handled, carefully stored media failed due to its design.

We live in a digital world… If you don’t want to loose your data, photos, family videos, etc., take a few minutes and read the two articles, then order the right storage media for your own use. Next, change the habits of yourself and family. Always hold disks by the outside edges, stop flexing them and stop abusing them by throwing them around. Store them upright, in a cool, dark place and remember ….. Your hard drive(s) WILL fail. It isn’t a question. It is just a matter of when. If you don’t back up your data regularly, you WILL loose it. How often should you back it up? That all depends on your threshold of pain.. Loose your data and photos once and you’ll know at least one level of it…

6 May 2007 Posted by | Research Tips | Leave a comment

Filing Source Documents


You have collected a stack of birth, marriage, death and other primary source documents. What do you do with them once you have transcribed the data into your database?

I suggest that you:

Gather all the birth, marriage and death certificates for your family together and put them in acid-free sheet protectors this week. Temporarily (a few weeks at most), use a post-it note or slip of paper to number them with a numbering system of your choice…(post-it on the outside of the plastic)…. This requires that you to decide on a numbering system you are going to use for referencing your documents, photos, etc.

I use the numbering system below and it works for me…. I also record all of the documents and information by number using the program Clooz and print reports from it for filing. However, a $4.00 journal with acid-free paper can fill this role too.

The secret about numbering is to be consistent in whatever system you choose. If my system doesn’t work for you, sit down and design a numbering system that feels best in your situation. You’ll be glad you thought it through early in the process… If you find that system doesn’t work, change it before you get so many records that it becomes very difficult to find the courage to change everything you’ve done….

Here is an example of how I have assigned numbers in my system:

  • Birth 0001 – Birth 9999 (when I get my 10,000th birth certificate / record, I’ll just add a digit until I get to 99,999+)
  • Blessing 0001-9999 (Usually LDS blessing certificates. See Baptisms below)
  • Marriage 0001 – 9999, etc…
  • Death 0001 – 9999 etc…
  • Will 0001 – 9999 etc…
  • Baptism 0001 -9999 etc… (we may all run out of numbers in this category and have to go to a 5 digit number here eventually. Church birth records are almost always the baptism / christening date, so as you start finding a lot of info on your ancestral families, you’ll collect a lot of photocopied pages of baptism / christening records).
  • Deeds 0001 – 9999 etc.
  • Photos 0001 – 9999 etc. You may end up with so many photos that you want to start with a 5 digit number here. It just depends on how you decide to file your family and family history related photos. You may want several titles for this category… i.e. Silva Photos 0001-9999 or Hornback Photos 0001-9999 for the folks associated with those surnames and then use the family name of the other branch (typically your spouse) for another set of photos.. It just depends on how many photos you file in relation to family history. I take photos of family headstones, homesteads, hospitals (where born / died), churches and tabernacles (where baptized) as well as panoramic views of the towns to document our lineage. If you decide that you are going to do something similar, consider that fact when you create your photo numbering system.
  • Any other categories you want to use.

When you record the source in your genealogy database, just add your personal filing number with it. Put the number on the acid-free sheet protector that holds the related document. In my case, I use a Dymo label writer (inexpensive one that prints on vinyl tape from Wal-Mart, etc.,) to create document number labels. Now, when I want to find the original document that is referenced in my sources, I just open my source books and flip to .. Death 0239 .. or whatever document number that is referenced.

Since I’ve used this system, I can always find my primary, important secondary source documents and family history photos in a few seconds. They are literally at my fingertips, safely stored in one place in consecutive order by document type. Gone are the days of documents being in various file cabinets, folders, binders, etc.

You’ll want to seriously consider ordering very good 3-ring binder(s) for these records. I use the very sturdy Wilson-Jones #367-49 binders. They come in black, blue and red and are $25+ each, are really strong and won’t fail over time.

In an emergency, after determining that our family members are ok, the binders will be the first thing we grab on the way out the door as we grab our 360-hr emergency kits (yes, we are involved in CERT)…. I also keep a set of backup DVD’s of all of our scanned photos, genealogy databases, etc. in one of the binders as well as in our emergency kits.

Keep your binders filed standing upright, in a cool place, out of the sun and reach of children. You should also consider including a copy of either your genealogy software on one of the DVD’s or the original program CD’s. You’ll want the software so you can recreate your databases, photos and documents when the ‘dust’ settles if an emergency occurs….

2 May 2007 Posted by | Certificates | Leave a comment