Anyone who lives in an area with frequent power outages should invest in an APC Battery Backup/Surge Suppressor unit ($50-$100). This unit allows one to save any open files and shut down the computer after a power outage begins. If it is only a quick lights off/lights on outage, the computer is still up and the user can go on with his/her work.
Photograph Library Finds
I have to say that my digital camera is one of my favorite tools. I take it with me to libraries and use it instead of making copies. This way I don’t have writer’s cramp and I don’t have a lot of papers. I just download the photos and organize them in my computer files. I have also used it when viewing microfilm on a monitor; I use the close-up setting and no flash. It also helps if room lights are not glaring on the screen. The library I first tried this at had an old, cranky printer and the copies were terrible. Out of desperation I filmed the screen and the pictures turned out surprisingly well.
ADN Editorâ€™s Note: Be sure to check with the facility for any restrictions on the use of cameras. While many facilities allow the use of cameras, some may not. There may also be related restrictions, such as the use of the flash or requiring permission on a case-by-case basis, depending on what you are photographing.
Record Management and Research Plan
Most genealogists have trouble fighting â€œpaper chaos” and many of us fail to make efficient research plans. This tip helps a lot with both problems: Create a simple chart; it might be done with paper and pencil, or in a spreadsheet or database. First, create column headers for each type of document you hope to collect, e.g. birth, marriage, death, obit, burial, probate, etc. (You can easily add to these headers later, as you think of more document types.) Make the first column head “Name of Ancestor.” The first row of actual data might show your father’s name, and checkmarks for all of the original documents you have for him. Now, list each of your direct ancestors, or the family members you wish to study, down the first column. You are now ready to create a “log” of the documents you have in your collection. Get your materials together, and review your original source documents. (You will likely be amazed at the new clues you pick up by doing this! I like to keep these important papers in acid-free sheet protectors, and organize them in 3-ring notebooks, by record type. This makes using them VERY easy to use.) As you work, place a checkmark in the appropriate box on your chart. When you are done, you can quickly see what records you have–and what you still need to find.
Darlene C. Joyce, CG
St. Paul, Minnesota
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