Today’s research roundup is about collecting and processing your audio and video files. While the process of rounding up digital media files is easy yet sometimes tedious, rounding up hard copy media files can be difficult and expensive. You’ll have to make decisions about what files to convert so you can store them digitally and what files to continue to save in their original format.
Rounding up your digital media files is a matter of finding them on your computer or other devices and storing them all in one place. FHnotebook provides a simple framework for you to store your media files, and you can organize them into family-specific notebooks.
The 1940 Census is out, and you can access it from FamilySearch.org, National Archives, Ancestry.com, and a few other sites. I was just as excited as all of you to see it, and I thought I’d share my experience researching the 1940 Census so far.
I’m a later-in-life child, and as a result, I barely knew my grandparents. I was excited for the 1940 census so I could find my grandparents on it and learn a bit more about them. And, I’ll be honest, I was excited to be the first person in my family to locate my grandparents on the census—it would be like finding a great resource no one had looked at before. I began by trying to locate their correct enumeration districts.
The Genealogy Insider blog really helped me get started; Diane Haddad has spent a lot of time keeping up with which sites have which images uploaded, as well as the indexing progress for each site. I started with FamilySearch since they had Colorado up already, and that is where my maternal grandparents lived in 1940. After locating and poring over images from several enumeration districts, I couldn’t find them. I tried Ancestry.com as well, just to use a different system (their Beta viewer makes it easy to move around the image you’re viewing), but I still haven’t found them.
In the last two Research Roundups, we talked about collecting the written word—in the form of personal papers and email. Today, we’ll talk about how to gather photographs and make sense out of the billions and billions of images you have. The wonderful thing about FHnotebook is how you can organize your files into your specific notebooks, storing pictures next to documents and audio files, and you can further label each file with category tags to make them searchable.
First, and most importantly, find a systematic way to gather and digitize your hard copy pictures. Even if you don’t want to spend the time or money to create beautiful digital copies, you should still document your hard copies for several reasons: 1) Security: storing and backing up your files in the cloud means that you’ll always have access to copies of your files, no matter what happens to your computer or home; 2) Storage space: instead of keeping thousands of important photos readily accessible in boxes and file cabinets, you can store them all digitally in your FHnotebook, which will use less space and be more easily accessible; and 3) Organization: not only can you search and find specific items more easily with FHnotebook, but you can add category tags to pictures to group related images in multiple ways, helping you make crucial connections in your family history research.
In just over two weeks, the 1940 census will be released. This is a really big deal in the genealogical community, if you didn’t know! The census will contain a wealth of information to help you with your family history research. You will be able to access the census free on the website starting April 2. Not only will you be able to view the records for free (unlike previous census images), but you can download your research right from the site.
An index for the 1940 census does not yet exist since the images won’t be released until April 2, but FamilySearch and Ancestry.com are providing a way for volunteers to index the census so that it can be searchable and available to the public. The indexing project will greatly improve your ability to research the wealth of information included in the census, so to expedite the indexing process, you can join the volunteer effort! Visit the FamilySearch website to learn more and to sign up as a volunteer. You can also sign up on the 1940 Census website.
Besides the obvious excitement of gaining access to new family history research, the hubbub surrounding the release of the 1940 census is the fact that people today actually know people who are on it. Babies born in 1940 are only in their early 70s now, and their parents could still be alive as well. When you study the census, you’ll be able to make important family connections as well as find occupations, immigration data, and locations for your own relatives.
Use FamilyHistorynotebook to save and store the information you glean from the census. Keep the information organized into your various family notebooks, and cross-reference overlapping information using category tags.
For more information on the 1940 Census:
- Archives.gov: The official website of the National Archives, where you can learn more about the census itself, the questions asked on it, etc.
- 1940 Census Community Project: sign up to volunteer, learn about the 1940s, and read blog posts by census ambassadors.
- DearMYRTLE: just one of the many sources for webinars, advice, and tips and tricks for researching the census.
Image via the1940census.com.
We talked before about how to incorporate emails with unique family history information into your FHnotebook. The value of consistently and constantly gathering new information about your family history cannot be undersold. This week, we’ll talk about ways to add personal papers—such as letters, notes, lists, cards, etc.—to your FHnotebook.
Personal papers could refer to any piece of paper that has factual information, personal thoughts, or sentimental value in it—so basically any piece of paper that interests you or could interest your family! There are a few ways to digitize your personal papers and add them to your FHnotebook.
Your family history is never complete. Even if you ever get to the point where you’ve exhausted all of your resources researching the past, you can still start moving forward with your family history. There are tons of ways to gather information for your personal history. Today’s Research Roundup is about combing your email inbox for family history treasures.
It’s likely that a majority of your family history research is in paper form. There are certainly benefits to having hard copies of pedigrees, birth certificates, photos, etc. However, as time goes by, you will have to make the choice to go digital—to convert your hard copies to digital ones. Besides the ease of organization you’ll have in FHnotebook—remember, even images can have titles and categories added to them to make them searchable—there are many other perks to adding a digital copy of each record to your FHnotebook.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of fires and floods decimating people’s homes, including family albums and important paperwork. And previously, even digital copies were contained on computers, CDs, USB drives, and other tangible, losable storage systems. Now, you have the opportunity to create digital copies of photos or documents, save them to your own computer, and then save them to our servers using FHnotebook for added security. You can keep your hard copies and your own digital copies on your devices if you prefer those, but if anything happens to those copies, your family history research is backed up on our servers, allowing you to access them anywhere, anytime.
FHnotebook has a great feature called “Tasks To Do.” Often while you are researching, you get interrupted or need to take a break. FHnotebook allows you to create a task so you can remember where you were when you come back to your research. This way, you don’t repeat research or forget to do an important task.
Tasks To Do also gives you a place to put all of your ideas. If you think of something to research, but now is not the time, add a task. When you put items somewhere you will remember to do them, like in your FHnotebook organized with your research, your mind can focus on your current work.
Read more about the simple process of adding a task to your FHnotebook in our user guide. You can even add categories to your tasks so you can easily find them, the same way you categorize documents or photos.
Family history research is confusing as it is. If you create a task system for yourself, you will be able to be more efficient and organized as you research. You will be able to keep track of what you’ve done with your documents, photos, and videos, and you’ll be able to keep track of what you still need to do through the tasks you create.
Say you are researching your grandmother’s aunt. You could create a category called “Aunt Gloria” so that all tasks associated with her could be easily grouped together in FHnotebook.
The tasks associated with Aunt Gloria can then be tracked and marked as complete when you finish them. This way, you know what work you have left to do concerning Aunt Gloria.
You can add as many categories as you want to each task. The task, “Find Aunt Gloria’s birth certificate” is also categorized under “Records to find,” so that when I am at the family history library doing research, I can be sure to have a comprehensive list of the tasks I need to do there.
However you choose to use Tasks To Do, make sure you use it! It will provide structure and purpose to your research.
This time of year is a perfect time to observe and remember holiday traditions and stories. Be sure to use FHmedia and FHnotebook this season and record these memories. You won’t have to dig far to find that treasure trove of family history gems that you should save forever. We have a few suggestions to help you find traditions to record, either in the form of notes, pictures, audio recordings, or videos.
Most families have an event or two that is standard during the holidays. These events could be in the form of Christmas dinner, a trip to get a Christmas tree together, baking together, etc. In my family, every year we have a Christmas Eve gathering with our extended family. It includes dinner, a talent show, and a Nativity Scene Reenactment. It is comforting to have a set event each year—something to rely on even when the rest of the year has been difficult. And when we gather together Christmas Eve, we remember what happened the year before—like when my six-year-old niece wrote a song about hot chocolate and performed it for us, or when we heard a performance from a mini-band consisting of a French horn, trombone, and clarinet. I definitely want to remember stories like these. What events does your family participate in every year?
I was speaking with my mother-in-law, and she gets new Christmas decorations each year. What a novel idea! My family has had the same decorations since I was little. In fact, my mom tried to throw some away one year and we wouldn’t let her. How does your family decorate? Does everything have a theme? Does your mom trust the children to decorate the tree?
During the holidays, cooking is a central theme of family activities, service, and events. I’m sure your family has a traditional treat you make. In my family, my mother always makes a delicious German sweet bread called Stollen. For me, it wouldn’t be Christmas without it—watching my mom make batch after batch, delivering bread to friends, and finally getting to eat our own slices on Christmas Eve at our family gathering.
Besides recording memories of cooking together, you can store your favorite holiday recipes in FHnotebook in the family notebooks they belong to. You can type the recipe into a note, or if you have a cherished recipe card, you can take a photo of it using FHmedia and then upload it to your FHnotebook, preserving the original card while ensuring you never lose the recipe! Cooking meals together can be a memorable experience. Take the time to either tell the stories you remember of cooking together, or gather your family around and tell them the story while you record the experience.
This year, I will write about our Christmas Eve party, include pictures and videos of the event, and write down the memories of previous years. I’ll save my mother’s Stollen recipe so I never lose it. My memories—my notes, pictures, and videos—will be organized into notebooks in FHnotebook with the correct category labels on each item. These treasured memories can then be shared with my family so we all have access to them now and in the years to come.
I struggle to keep track of my digital photo albums. Right now I have hundreds of pictures stored on a jump drive in my closet, a stack of printed photos on my bookshelf, and even more pictures on my 3-year-old laptop—the laptop that probably won’t make it much longer. So, I need a safer place to store my photos. I also need one place to put them all. And even better—a way to categorize each picture so I know who is in it! I am good at labeling folders on my computer, but I have a hard time remembering specifics, such as where I put that picture of the family reunion. (Was it in “Winter 2010”? Or “Family Albums”?)
FHnotebook solves ALL of these problems. You can store and backup all of your photos on our secure servers. Because of this, you can also access your photos from a laptop, your smartphone, tablet, or desktop. And you can keep adding pictures to your FHnotebook. Once you reach your 100 files, upgrade to our Hobbyist plan, which lets you store 1,000 files. And our Genealogist plan gives you 20Gb of storage, or 4,000 files!
Using FHmedia to Collect Pictures
I love knowing exactly where all my digital photos are. But what about my printed photos? Easy: the FHmedia app allows you to scan photographs and documents so you can store them securely with all of your other photos. You can still keep the printed copy, too, for peace of mind. In the app, you can choose the “take a new photo” option or the “scan a document” option. On iOS devices, the scanner has a grid to make it easier to scan documents and end up with straight images. Using FHmedia is great because I can take a photo and immediately upload it onto my FHnotebook. I can even leave a date stamp in the notes section so I know exactly when I took the photo.