Digitization of Family History

Going completely digital with family history may not be possible for a few years. However, you can get almost all of your family history on a computer. With the help of a scanner, digital camera, and a family history software program, there is no need to consult paper records again.

Most of us collect piles of paper whenever we go on a research trip. It might be to our local courthouse or across country to where our ancestors settled centuries ago. Photocopies of records give us those elusive clues about our forefathers and mothers. But, those photocopies are another piece of paper we need to carry around with us.

One way around those photocopies is to take a digital scanner or camera with us and make a digital copy of the record. However, what if something happened to your electronic copy? Before leaving any repository, it is important to transfer pictures to a laptop or other computing device and make sure the copies are clear and what you expected.

If you end up with a paper copy, you can make a digital copy at home. A scanner offers an easy option. You can also use your digital camera to take a picture of the document. My goal when doing this work is to get a completely readable copy that I can use on my computer without taking out the paper copy.

Once you have a digital copy of your document, how do you organize it on the computer?


Keeping Sane in a Pile of Research

Think about it. You have four grandparents, who each have two parents. The number of family lines doubles each time you go back a generation. If you spend enough time, you will find you have dozens of family lines to research and keep track of. But, how do you keep track of it all?

For someone who is a born organizer, that may seem like a simple question. However, most people I know, including myself, are not naturally organized. This has been a constant challenge in my life, especially when it comes to family history research.

Despite being in the age of computers, a good deal of my research is still in paper form. I have copies of wills, land records, court records, marriage certificates, etc. for many different family lines. Keeping them straight is always a challenge. But, with a bit of help from some veteran researchers, I came up with a way to keep track of everything and to start moving towards a completely digital collection.