Your Quick Tips, 18 February 2008

Google Highlighter
While scrolling down list after list of individuals with the very same name, I discovered a helpful tool. I subscribe to the Google Toolbar, and it has a highlighter as one of its tools. In the search box associated with the toolbar, I place pertinent info, such as, the birth year, death year, maybe the state initials, or any other info I deem helpful. I do not click in the search bar, but instead allow the highlighter to go to work. If it finds any info corresponding to what I have in the search box, it will highlight the info. I would imagine Yahoo has the same arrangement. It truly does help immensely.

Diane Magraw

Cleaning Up Shared GEDCOMS
We all know how important it is to have a source for our information and to share our findings with others in our family. When I started ten years ago, if I found someone with a lot of my ancestors, I would ask for their GEDCOM file and merge it into my file immediately, with no source info, many duplicates, misspelled places, and with their formats for sources, place names, etc.

I later learned the importance of having consistent sources. I had to clean up several source citations that only read, “I have original birth or death certificate.” After spending several weeks putting sources with every fact in my file, I have a new way of approaching a new GEDCOM or FTM file. 

When I get a new file, I save it with the family name (e.g., John Smith). Then I save it again named “John Smith-cleaned.” In the cleaned file I delete duplicates, and add a source to every name, fact, and note in the file. I also make sure that all the place names are in the same format, city, county, state, country, and that the spelling is consistent (not Ft. Worth, Texas; Fort Worth, Texas; or Fort Worth TX).

After I have done all this, I then merge it with my file. Not only is it easier to do this in a smaller file, it also helps you to get familiar with the new names and places in their file.

It also helps you decide on other research to do. I make a list of people more than 100 years old to check for death records. After I have merged the file, I also back up their original and cleaned file onto CD to clear up space on my hard drive.

Thanks,
Brooke Mahnken
Garden City, Kansas, US

Back Up Digital Photographs
Here’s some advice to those using digital cameras based on bitter experience. Please remember to make separate back-up copies of all your camera uploads. I use USB memory sticks that can be easily updated. A bonus is that you can take your photos with you when visiting other people and give an impromptu slide show.

Raynor Record

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If you have a suggestion you would like to share with other researchers, send it to: mailto:juliana@ancestry.com. Thanks to all of this week’s contributors!

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2 thoughts on “Your Quick Tips, 18 February 2008

  1. I agree that backup is extremely important for documents as well as photos and that the USB memory sticks are very convenient. I use them. However, I have read that USB or flash memory sticks are not as long-lasting or reliable as CDs.

    There is also the option of buying a second hard drive (prices have come down) for backup. I wonder if anyone out there has seen research on this subject or has had a bad experience with a backup device failure.

  2. CDs are probably more reliable than flash memory devices, but no backup media is infallable. Flash memory drives can be lost or broken, hard disks can crash, CDs can get scratched, paper can be damaged by a spill, etc.

    The best bet is to have multiple backups in at least a couple of mediums. For example, I copy my genealogy database to a flash drive anytime I change it. To reduce the risk of hard disk crashes, at the end of the day I copy all changed data files and pictures to another PC in the house. I also take a copy to my office in case the house burns down or gets blown away. I periodically burn a copy of my files to a DVD and occasionally put a DVD copy in a firebox. Most paper documents I scan into a file, mainly because I can find files on the PC more quickly and easily than the paper copy in a binder or folder or box, but it also gives me an electronic backup copy which gets backed up along with all my other files as described above. Another good option is to occasionally send a CD or DVD of your stuff to a family member or genealogist in another city or state, as protection against regional disasters like a tornado or flood.

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