Friday, April 10, 2009

Weekly Genealogy Blogging Prompt #14

Prompt:  Talk about the different types of technology you use in your genealogy research. Whether it’s a new search engine, a special application, or anything else “2.0,” let readers know what you’re working with, and how it’s working for you.

I love technology.  And the pack-rat in me also loves technology; instead of hoarding papers, I now hoard digital files...lol.  My genealogy setup goes a little something like this...

I use Legacy for storing all of my genealogy data, references, to-do items, and notes.  I am able to export information to Excel if I have a lot of things I want to look at at once. 

My electronic filing system consists of folder for each surname.  Files are then named using the following standard:  SURNAME, First Middle LAST FileType Number (if applicable).  So a picture of me would have the file name:  CAHILL, Julie Marie CAHILL Photo 005.  Each file then has the details added to the Properties, and in particular, I use the Comments field to include source information.  So for example, the death certificate for Timothy McMahon would have the following in the Comments field:  State of Illinois, death certificate no. 28236 (1939), Timothy J McMAHON, State of Illinois Department of Public Health.  I used to break things down into folders for photos, documents, records, etc., but I found that too cumbersome.  The surname folders with all file types using my naming convention works best for me.

For searching, I use Ancestry.com to find as much information as I can about a person or family.  I then try to follow it up with locating primary sources based on the information I found in Ancestry.  Family Search's pilot search has become my new best friend since it has digitized records that pertain to the areas I seek.  I've also found the New England Historic Genealogical Society's databases to be helpful as well.

Then there's good old-fashion newspaper research.  But I like to do most of it from the comfort of my own home using ProQuest.  Lucky for me, I have access to the Historic Chicago Tribune database, which has proven very fruitful in finding information on my Chicago families.  I also have a subscription to Genealogy Bank, which has led to some great finds as well.

My digital camera comes in really handy for genealogy research.  Besides taking photographs of gravestones, I take pictures of mementos and items that are not scannable.  This way I have a digital file of these items.  I also take photos of documents and book and newspaper pages, kind of like my version of a photocopier.  Works really well; I save a few bucks and I have a digital file.

The digital voice recorder I bought last December has also been a great tool.  You can read more at my blog post Using a Digital Voice Recorder in Your Genealogy Research.

Diigo is a tool I started using a few months ago.  In a nutshell, it's a place to store Internet bookmarks.  You can add descriptions and tags, as well as add them to lists you create or share them with groups you belong to.  I use it solely for genealogy bookmarks.  I created lists like Cemetery Research, Irish Genealogy, and General Genealogy to make my bookmarks a little more manageable.  I also share links with the groups I belong to, such as Genealogy Research Resources and Illinois Genealogy.

And let's not forget some of the networking tools.  I've mentioned this before, but part of the reason I joined Facebook and began blogging was because of the wonderful GeneaBlogger group I found.  Through these two tools, I've made connections with other genealogists, and have learned so much from them.  Since I'm fairly new to genealogy, it's nice to have people around to ask questions. I've used FB's instant messaging a few times to ask someone a quick question; really nice to have instant feedback right when you need it.  I get wonderful ideas and tips from reading others' blogs and even FB statuses.  I've also found some distant cousins through these tools.  And of course, I've made some wonderful friends, that some day I hope to meet in person.

There are so many other tools out there that I'd like to explore further, but these, for me, and the the big ones and the ones I though might help others.


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