I'm a dinosaur, technologically speaking. I love paper and pencils and pens. I love notebooks and tablets with spiral bindings, and real books with paper pages and hard covers. I love the printed word and the smell of books. (Open that new book, stick your nose in and breathe deeply. What's not to love?) I love all things relating to office supplies, especially if they're paper. I don't believe I could live in a world without paper.
When researching my ancestors I make notes on paper. Until recently my notes could be found in a notebook, on a research log on my computer, and/or on small pieces of paper about 4" by 6", all stacked neatly near my computer. All easily forgotten and hard to find, especially three weeks later and at the very moment when I remembered that I needed that piece of information. I've reformed. I'm using only a spiral notebook.
Evernote and am beginning to use it. If I can use it the way I imagine, it may be the best thing I've ever done for my family history research. (I say may because I haven't used it enough yet to tell.) Being able to keep all notes in one place and search by word to find a note will be a great research aid: help for my aging brain.
Other Genea-bloggers have mentioned Evernote but an article by Thomas Houston at "The Verge at work: backing up your brain. How I use Evernote as a memory tool for deep reading, writing, and research", was the one that persuaded me to try Evernote. It is a detailed, encouraging, and informative post in which Houston explains several ways to use Evernote and how it helps him.
I think I'm in control of the storage system for my WordPerfect documents but the naming system for my image files is out of control. About 8 years ago I learned about scanning photos and downloading online images. The person who showed me how to do these things assumed I knew more about computers that I did. He recommended one way to name the files but I discovered that it didn't really work for me. Over time, I've added a variety of naming patterns:
- 1870 U.S. Census Pennsylvania Mercer Fairview Doyle William
- 1870 US Census, Pennsylvania, Mercer, Fairview, DoyleWilliam
- Doyle William 1870 U.S. Census, Pennsylvania, Mercer, Fairview
- Doyle-William-1870 U.S. Census, PA, Mercer, Fairview
- Doyle Lee school photo about 1927
- Doyle, Lee - school photo - about 1927
- DoyleLee-school photo-about1927
You get the idea. If there isn't uniformity there isn't a system. I'm currently researching ways to name files. I think surname first, given name, document identification, with the date in there somewhere is how I'd like to do it. I have yet to decide how much information to include in the file name, and whether to use spaces, no spaces, or underlines between words is still up for consideration. Newspaper articles are a little more difficult. Two obituaries for the same person without naming the newspaper could be very confusing. I'll have to think about this a little longer.
Some recommendations from online searches about naming images:
- avoid leaving spaces in the name
- use all lower case (because some systems are case-sensitive)
- use only letters, numbers, hyphens, and underlines
- if using a date record it as YYYYMMDD, using four digits for the year and two for month and day
As I continue to evaluate which system will work best for me I'll begin making changes to my image naming format. With all the photos I have it could take a while . . . .
Read what others are doing for the Genealogy Do-Over at Genealogy Do-Over at bagtheweb.
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