If my wealth were counted in pictures, I would be a billionaire. I’ve always loved pictures. My Mother took a lot of pictures. My Father was a photographer, video-grapher and film developer. Several of my maternal Aunts have treasure troves of family photos.
I’ve always tried very hard to write the names of subjects and locations on the backs of the photos. Even with the age of digital photographs, I still enjoy having printed photos and labeling them. With the digital photos it’s also important to “label” them. Another word for labeling digital photos is meta data. According to e Merriam – Webster, “data that provides information about other data”. The picture below is a screen shot of a jpg file with the meta data filled in. When metadata is used correctly, it makes it’s easy to find the jpg files.
I need to re-double my efforts to label physical and digital pictures. My descendants will thank me.
Ok, that title is totally false. There are more than 3 steps to organization. For every researcher there is a way different way of organizing information. The method you use choose for organization is not as important as having a method and being consistent with it.I would encourage you to do some research and find the method that works best for you.
Genealogy has come a long way since people were hand writing charts and family trees. Paper is still important (I think), but digital files are used primarily for most researchers. That being said, it’s important to keep paper and digital files organized. To increase the usefulness of your organization the two systems should be complimentary. Frequently, I’ve become so excited about a “find” that I didn’t slow down enough to keep everything organized. If finds are organized and filed properly (as well as citing sources) it’s much easier to determine what information you have and don’t have an how it connects or doesn’t connect with other members of your family.
A single document can shine a light on multiple family members simultaneously . For instance, a birth certificate will have the name and birth place of the child and names and (perhaps occupations) of the parents. Census records will record entire families and neighborhoods.
After, finding the WW II enlistment records for one of my ancestors, I realized that I haven’t scanned all of the military records that I’ve secured. It’s a good idea to update information for the individual ancestor, for example branch of military, dates of service, medals, etc. And if possible scan the source records and attachment to whichever database you might be using for your family research.
In the next several months, I need to make sure my files are organized, up to date (with the information that I have) and that all (most) of the source records are scanned attached to the individual(s) that they are connected too.
Tomorrow, I’ll talk about pictures (please make a note of who is in the picture, when and where it was taken) and metadata.
Today I want to talk about how to start your genealogical research. I’ve been researching for many years and people always ask me, “How do I start?” The beginning of your research is such an exciting time. You have everything to learn and no bad research habits to break.
When beginning your genealogical research begin with yourself and work backwards, towards your parents, grandparents, etc. Resist the urge to start with Great Grandma Rhodes who your family has always spoken about. Researchers have wasted years going down the wrong path, because they didn’t start with themselves work their way back and then confirm or deny word of mouth information from family members.
Write down everything you know about yourself. Your full name (legal and nickname), when & where you were born, parents names (adopted, foster, etc), where you grew up, siblings (half, step, full). After you have written down everything you know, attempt to confirm the information with documentation. Frequently individuals have assumed something ie, I was born in KY, only to get the birth certificate and realize you were born in OH. This could have happened because all the other siblings were born there and you just assumed you were too. Never assume! Be open to the facts. Also be open to not being able to confirm every fact. I will talk frequently about a “Preponderance of evidence”.
Sidenote – when documenting the names of women, write down their BIRTH NAMES (maiden). It becomes very difficult to trace women when their last names at birth are unknown or shrouded in the mystery of their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd husband. A fellow researcher, Charles Kenneth Barker, remarked how hard it was to trace his female ancestors. I let him know that it wasn’t an accident that women are hard to trace. Society pressures women to give up their birth names and consequently their connection to their birth families and their connection to history. (Stepping down from my soap box.)
After writing down everything you know about yourself, write down your parents’ names full name (legal and nickname), place of birth, date of birth, place of death and date of death if applicable.
Next, write down all of that same pertinent information for your grandparents, great grandparents, etc as many generations as you can.
At this point you have a lot of information written down. This is a good time to decide what kind of organizational method you will use, folders, binders, computer files, etc. Most people will use several of these tools. You can conduct research without a computer. However if you enjoy computers using a database program can help you organize your research. There are several great programs out there.