Monday, April 15, 2013

Labeling Pictures

As anyone knows, or should knows, writing on pictures in pen is a definite no-no because, after time, the ink begins to a) fade or even worse b) fade through the pictures. And, as anyone dancing with the ancestors should know, labeling pictures is highly important because . . .

. . . after you die, yes, it's going to happen one day, someone is going to go through your stuff, find all these photos and they may or may not know the ancestors in the photo.

So, I have a process, which goes something like this . . .

Catherine Delana Langdon-Sweat
Oct 15, 1837 - Oct 15, 1925
Daughter of Roswell Lee & Chloe (Richradson) Langdon
Wife of Alexander Sweat
Great-Great Grandmother

That, is the label which will go on the back of the photo so that, someday in the far distant future, after I'm gone, my niece or nephews who inherit the photos will know that the photo in question is that of their 3 x great grandmother. Woo-hoo!

Yes, I know, should have thought of this sooner. Do you have any idea how many photos I'm going to have to take out of frames to place labels on the back of the photos? Far too many, dear readers, far too many.

So, when dancing with the ancestors, don't write on your photos, but label the photos so future generations will know the who-who of your ancestry.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Paper, Paper Everywhere

When dancing with the ancestors it is not possible to not accumulate multitudes of paper. Trust me on this one. Before you know it, you'll have paper, paper everywhere.

The first step in this paper not overwhelming your life, or the closet in my office, as the case may be, is to get some file folders and a sharpie! Any color will do. 

Then, you print off that Census Record for your 3 x great grandfather. Get a file folder and . . .

. . . label it!

For example ~ Maternal: Sweat

Now, this can get out of hand if you have a folder for every ancestor. The further back you go, the greater the number of ancestors. For me, I create a surname folder only, stick everything for members of that surname in the folder, and label as indicated above. Next, on the inside of the folder, I include the descent from that surname down to me.

So, for example, my Boarman line. The folder label would be ~ Maternal: Boarman

On the inside of the folder I would write out the descent as follows . . .

Boarman - Halswell
Boarman - Linle
Boarman - Pile
Boarman - Edelen
Boarman - Boone
Boone - Hagan
Boone - Hagan 
Boone - Duvall
Boone - Watson
Boone - Sweat
Sweat - Mitchell

So, when next I pull out that folder, I can easily trace the descent.

The second step of file storage is digital. SCAN EVERYTHING! Or, just save the file rather than printing it off and save a tree or two!!

Once you have everything in a digital format, you need to save it in some semblance of order so as not to drive yourself - short drive with me sometimes - insane trying to find the document you know you saved, but just can't find.

First, I create a Folder called: Family Tree

Then, I create four folders within that main folder using my grandparents surnames: Mitchell, Smith, Sweat, and Boone.

Now that I have the main branches of my family tree, I then create folders within those folders. For example . . .

Mitchell: Forrest, Tate, McGregor, McGee, Clendennin, etc. 
Smith: Lane, Halterman, Sevier, Campbell, etc.
Sweat: Morris, Langdon, Hare, Page, Hussey, etc. 
Boone: Watson, Duvall, Hagan, Edelen, Blandford, Bevan, Boarman, etc.

Anytime I find a document, picture, or whatever related to a particular family, I save it to the appropriate folder.

First, this makes things much more organized and easy to find. Second, when doing a blog post about a particular surname, or deciding to work on a family history book, the source information is in two locations: the paper file and the digital file.

I also save the digital files to three locations: hard drive, flash drive, and external hard drive. Better safe than sorry!

Last, but not least, is naming the files. You don't want to just save a file as 1850 Census Record or a picture as Tombstone. I actually do the following: James D. Tate - 1850 Warren County Census or James D. Tate - Tombstone. This way, I can easily go to whatever file I need at the moment, without having to open up a bunch of files to find what I'm looking for in the first place. Yes, I wasn't so good at labeling in the beginning. I learned from my mistakes. Ha!

So, when dancing with the ancestors with paper, paper, everywhere, organization is important!!