Sunday, July 3, 2016

God Bless The USA 2016

God Bless The USA 2016

I love celebrating this holiday, there is so much behind it that I appreciate. I have ancestors that fought for our freedom and family members that continued to defend it.

Happy Birthday America, you truly are the Land Of The Free, Because Of The Brave.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Tagging To Organize Your Digital Family Documents

Stop the Madness and Organize Your Digital Family History Documents

In the highly digital world we live in today, it's easy to accumulate large quantities of digital files and images. When I say large quantities, I mean thousands of photos and documents, it's crazy, it's madness.

Tagging To Organize You Digital Family Documents

My smart phone automatically syncs images I take with a folder I have designated in Dropbox called Camera Uploads. Of course, my intention is to always process that folder and file the images where they really need to go to aid in easy retrieval at a later date.  

Not one to kid myself, for too long anyway, that processing rarely takes place. Often what is a manageable task in the beginning soon becomes an unwieldy beast when left unattended for too long. Being faced with a beast or walk away, I tend to walk away and leave it for another day.

Windows Folder With Digital Files Details VIew

No more! I was tired of wasting time looking for photos or documents in the long, long list. I read an article about batch processing graphics for blog posts (make 5 or 6 images at a time rather than only as needed) and that's when I decided I needed to batch process my digital images.

I'm not a folder type of person, the hierarchy ends up being too nested for me. In Evernote I rely on tags, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Evernote's powerful search to find what I am looking for. Time to employ the same tactics everywhere.

Organizing In Your Windows Folders

I reached out to Dropbox via Twitter to ask if their was a way to mass tag photos using Dropbox. They very nicely told me no, but appreciate that would be a great enhancement. I quickly saw that I don't need to perform the tagging in Dropbox, I can do it right from Windows.

Your image folder probably looks like this. For ease in illustrating my steps, I will be working in the details view as displayed in the image above. The same steps apply using either view.

Windows Folder With Digital Family History Douments

Step 1: Select The Images You Want To Organize

Select a large blocks of images with a left click of your mouse on the first image, hold down the shift key and then left click on the last image. Once your selected images are highlighted, right click to open the menu and select Properties. You will then see the Properties dialog box.

Step 2: Assign a Tag

Click on the Details tab that is at the top of the dialog box, then position your mouse to the right of the word Tags and left click. You will see that you can now type in the tag you wish to assign to these files.

Step 3: Select OK on the Properties Dialog Box

After you select OK, you will see the tags you have assigned to the photos. You can then repeat these steps for all of your files. Thus batch tagging large groups of files as you have time.

Once you have tags assigned, you can search, sort and filter by those tags as well. I've selected mostly broad tags just to get myself started. I can then go back and add more detail if I choose to.

Search Sort Filter By Tags

Give batch tagging a try to get some forward movement in organizing your family history files.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Viewing Ancestors By Location A Visual Exercise

Viewing Our Ancestors By Location, A Good Visual Exercise

It all started earlier this week as a little meme on Facebook. That little meme soon went viral and took over the feeds of every genealogist on Facebook. We have J. Paul Hawthorne to thank, or curse, for this. 

Locations By Themselves Are Interesting But Not Enough

Isolating the locations from my ancestors names proved interesting. However, once I added the dates to the locations I became even more curious. Historically my family hasn't been in Missouri long. When I look at the dates they made their move and where they moved from I immediately asked how and why.

How Does A Family Move From New York to Kansas In The 1800's?

How did my Merys family make the trip? Did they travel by a steam powered train or riverboat and how long did it take them? We think nothing of traveling halfway across the country today, or even coast-to-coast. We have multiple options to choose from depending upon cost, time and comfort. Our ancestors options were limited, which makes the fact that so many chose to make these cross country moves even more impressive.

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Digital History Project

Rates Of Travel From New York City in 1800

While trying to wrap my head around the actual time and effort a cross country move entailed in the 1800s, I found an amazing map collection that took up an hour, or more, of my life. Again, I'm placing all blame on J Paul Hawthorne and you should too.

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln's Digital History Project Railroads and the Making of America contains maps from the 1932 Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States. These maps show the progression of the decrease in rates of travel time from New York City to other areas of the country.

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Digital History Project

The entire collection is a valuable resource to genealogical researchers and well worth the time to review. Based on the 1857 map, I can estimate that it took my Merys family four to five weeks to travel from New York to the Kansas state line. I am now looking forward to finding photos of travelers during that time period so that I can get a full visual picture of what their travel was like.

Thank you Paul, for initiating this journey. We all know it is always a good exercise to look at our ancestors and our research with new eyes and from different directions. That is exactly what I have done.

Railroads and the Making of America, The University of Nebraska at Lincoln,, March 26, 2016.