Friday, February 24, 2012

My Thoughts on Digital vs. Paper

In response to post by Marian Pierre-Louis:

For a new problem, I open a new tab in a spreadsheet where I already have a mix of "standard" tabs I use per project (my personal research being 1 project) & "free-form" tabs.

The standard tabs are:
- table with individuals as rows vs record types as columns, boxes colored to indicate whether record found / should exist / doesn't apply for this individual
- tab per set of parents, showing table extract of any located records about each and their children before marriage, for comparison & annotation

Examples of free-form tabs are:
- combo research plans / logs (eg cemeteries, BMD records), in table format
- table of responses from DNA matches, by type, contact info, ancestor names / locations
- ongoing research or brick wall, eg is Anna, Susanna, Anna Susanna 1, 2, or 3 people?, or several possibilities for ship arrival record annotated with pluses & minuses

Can easily flip from tab to tab as needed, to images of original documents or software program or Word with timeline in different windows. Working with paper, eyes can only see one image at a time, too :-). Digital is easier to share with others, and harder to misplace, and with something like Dropbox, automatically backed up and synch'ed to other devices.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Formats I use for my genealogy data

Following in response to post by Marian Pierre-Louise:

As the family historian, for a far-flung low-tech family, Ancestry fit our needs for software program: other family members can get free ids - and without downloading software - view annotated tree I created, with documents and photos linked to each individual. And I like Ancestry tools for research, creating, & sharing. Personally, I love Legacy, but as no one in my family will download even free software, I'm the only one who'd use, at least till the next generation gets into genealogy.

Last year I also started this blog to share same info in a different format, a table format that older relatives follow better, including when & how I made each discovery, and analysis included.

As a strong visual, early on, for data analysis, I developed a spreadsheet (combo research plan / log, & annotated data transcriptions on different tabs) and a word document (combo timeline / location list with maps), that both work well for me, and also get raves from my clients.

For my personal research on the road, I kept paper copies in manila folders - less bulky to pack and tote than notebooks - but now that i have an iPad that's handier than laptop, I can reference there faster than paper folders.

In preparation for my 1st visit to Family History Library while at RootsTech, I spent January reviewing all my data: found very little to update - and already had a tab of all family NY BMD annotated with which available at FHL including film number, that served as my work plan on site - but while reviewing I did notice something in transcriptions tab for an immigrant ancestor, that helped me locate an elusive ship arrival record - which includes name of an unknown cousin, whose family I'm now researching, back in relation to my ancestor, & forward for possible unknown living cousins!