I have never been big on New Year’s resolutions. My attitude has always been that “today is the first day of the rest of my life.” I was horrified, today, to realize today that I have not published a post for over a month; nearly six weeks in fact. So, I have resolved to publish a blog post every day that I am not working. And no, I am not waiting until the 1st of January to begin. Which, of course, makes organization the obvious subject today.
That covers a lot of things, so today I will talk about photographs and documents. There is no single way to manage these items, but you do need to maintain a system that works for you. And, while I am referring here to electronic copies, the same principles apply to the originals as well. This can be a daunting task, especially if you have a large number of items. But planning ahead will help. You don’t want to organize now and then have to re-organize later. Remember, your goal should be to make items easy to file and easy to find.
Here are my suggestions, but see also this article on organization from WikiHow:
- Create your categories. Here, I would suggest one category for documents and another for pictures.
- Create subcategories. For documents, these could include birth, marriage and death, while for pictures they could be for people and places. Don’t be afraid to add further subcategories.
- Give the folders understandable names (think of them as labels) so that you know what they contain and can find them again. Color coding is a good idea too, but unfortunately you cannot do that in Windows without using 3rd-party software.
- Do not put files on your desktop, except for temporary storage.
Family History is about real people, and it helps to bring those people to life if you can include pictures and stories as you gather information. I have had false starts in this area over the years but I would like to think that I am finally getting a handle on this.
I have had a scanner for many years. It works well enough but the software that goes with it is somewhat clunky and time-consuming. As a result I was not encouraged to use it a lot. And it doesn’t help that the drivers have never been upgraded from Windows XP, so I have to maintain a really old computer just to be able to use it.
Three years ago I bought a QromaScan at Rootstech. It’s good. It was fun to use at first and I still use it occasionally, but it needs to be assembled before use and doesn’t always work as I would expect. Not only that, it doesn’t like the format of English towns. For example, there are several Donningtons in England, so I want to specify the county to avoid confusion. QromaScan doesn’t allow that, so I have to manually change the metadata after scanning which, frankly, is a pain.
So what has changed? Why do I sound so upbeat? One of my purchases at RootsTech this year was of a portable scanner called a FlipPal scanner. It is high on battery use but so convenient. In the four days since it has arrived I have scanned 40 pictures, amended the metadata and placed it all in a spreadsheet. It will even scan pictures still in the frame, as well as being able to split large pictures between multiple scans and then seamlessly stitch them back together. The picture enhancement software is excellent as well.
Next, I’ll talk about memories and stories because without them family history really is nothing but dry facts and figures.