Dig up the past
Usually people suggest you don’t dig up the past, but as family history buffs, we know that the past is full of great stuff. When you write your Mother’s Day card this year, show that you care about her life by finding facts, pictures, and memorabilia to share with her. If you have the chance to get together with your mother this year, talk with her about her life and her past to create connections with her and increase your own knowledge about where your mother came from and how she got to where she is today.
Give her new resources
Even if your mother isn’t a genealogist like you, she’ll love seeing her family in a piece of history. Find her parents (or grandparents) on the 1940 census. And if she’s on there too, even better!
You can also provide new family history resources by helping out with BillionGraves’ Million More in May promotion. By contributing to the headstone database, you are helping mothers all over the world connect with their ancestors.
Compile a book
Use your Fhnotebook account to create a small book about your mother. Use pictures you’ve collected, interesting stories you remember sharing with her, and important facts and dates to create a great, personal family history resource that she’ll love. You can easily create photo books on many photo printing sites, and they even have easy-to-use templates to get you started.
Get her set up with FHnotebook
Finally, you can help her get her family history research organized and digitized. Create an account for her. Set up notebooks with her married name and maiden name, and add a few pictures and documents to get her started. She’ll love being able to clip pages from the web and store documents somewhere where they won’t be forgotten or misplaced.
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.
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.
Do any of your New Year’s Resolutions include family history? This is a great time to set new goals to further your family history research. Here are a few common family history resolutions and a few tips for helping you stick to them this year:
2012 is a great year to start getting involved in researching and recording your family history. There are now so many opportunities to help you research. Attend a conference or webinar. Check out a few online databases. Find an online community to share tips and tricks with. Contact relatives you know are involved in family history research—remember, you can share research easily through FHnotebook.
Tip: If you don’t know quite how to jump in, record your own memories using FHmedia. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to type or record your personal history—it’s important, too!
Remember our recommendation to collect memories this holiday season? I hope you were able to do that. If you did, you already have items ready to be organized in your FHnotebook. Now, go through your files and organize any family history information you have into your FHnotebook, where it will be safely backed up on our servers. You want to start the year out without any nagging feelings. If you can’t organize certain items right away, create a task to remind you to do it later.
Tip: Be systematic about your organization. You probably won’t be able to get everything moved over in one sitting, so make a plan that will allow you to be thorough and efficient as you gather and upload items to your FHnotebook.
You may be overwhelmed by the mountain of work ahead of you—your family history is never really complete—so try to find something that excites you. If you feel nagged or obligated to start your research, there is only a small chance that family history will turn into your favorite hobby. However, if you find motivation to keep you going when you hit a dead end or get confused, then you’ll find a way to continue working on your family history.
My motivation comes from listening to actual recordings of my ancestors. For Christmas, my uncle compiled a CD of stories told by my great great grandmother and mailed them to members of the family. Wow! It is amazing to hear her voice and have those stories recorded and passed around the family. Now that we each have a copy of her stories, (now digitized thanks to my uncle’s hard work), the chances of losing those stories are slim.
Tip: Using your FHnotebook, break down your family history into smaller, manageable chunks. As we’ve suggested, you can create a notebook for each side of the family. Within those notebooks, you can create notebooks for specific people or time periods; find a topic you are interested in, and create a notebook for it. This notebook will give you direction as you continue your research.
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.
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.
Your family history research has taken you hours of searching and collecting; why wouldn't you want to share it with others? With FHnotebook you can share your research with friends, family, and fellow researchers. When you share an item with others, they can see and add to what you've accomplished. You can share entire notebooks, individual documents, and tasks.
Here are a few specific scenarios where sharing could be useful for you: