Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Family History Through the Alphabet – P is for … Images

P could be for photos or portraits but all images that genealogists collect are not photos. We collect a profusion of images that we digitise : vital records, baptismal certificates, military records of service, letters, handwritten notes, invitations, orders of service etc. Whatever you call them they create problems for people like me who are disorganised.

Are you able to retrieve an image a family member requests within a minute of being asked?

A collection of images that is not organised is like a book without an index, virtually useless if you need to retrieve something efficiently. There are evangelists around who spruik about the advantages and disadvantages of different methods of organisation; some people even part with good money to purchase books on organising ones images. You just need to find a method that suits you and stick to it.

So how do I do it? 

WARNING: this may not be the best or most efficient method but it works for me.

I treat photos and images of documents separately. There are three places where I store images:

Photos are organised using free Picasa software from Google. Stored on a portable hard drive (and backed up on another) are my 90,000+ photos. These are arranged chronologically in folders by date; earlier ones just by year, from the 1990s by year and month and from the 2000s by day. Each photo is tagged with one or more tags that describe the when, where, what and who of the image. Typical tags for a photo might be Rootstech, Salt, Lake City, 2012, Thomas MacEntee, Amy Coffin or Jill Patricia Curry, 1956, First Communion, St Vincents College Chapel, Potts Point or Restaurants, 2010, Sydney Opera House, Food and Drink (for one of my many photos of food).

When I travel the hard drive goes with me so that I can organise and tag on the go. Now that Qantas  has power outlets on planes used for international journeys I am able to use my time in the air fruitfully and arrive home with some of my stuff already organised.

Images of documents as described above are stored in folders according to my very simple Fling it in the Folder method. These are stored on the same portable hard drive as my photos (and backed up on another). Screendumps that I use in presentations are stored there in the folders I make for each presentation I prepare. Having the hard drive with me when I travel allows me to save images of new documents straight into one of  my folders once I have entered details gleaned into my Family Historian database,

Bits and Pieces found during web wandering Those images that I find interesting like genealogy cartoons I clip using the Evernote web clipper, tag them and file them away in Evernote. They may at a later date find their way into Picasa or a folder but, in the first instance, they are saved into Evernote where I can easily retrieve them.

Use whatever pleases you but if you can't put you hands on an image within a minute it's time to ponder a method that allow you to do so.

1920s images in Picasa


A O'Brien said...

That sounds like a great method for image organisation. I have finally sorted my digital photographs into date folders and hope to go through a day, month, year at a time tagging the photos with names, places, occasions etc as you mentioned. But for now I just need to tackle the 'scans to sort folder - how I wish I'd organised from the beginning! Great post.

Kristin said...

I have organized my mother's side of the family in dated folders...mostly. I sorted my father's side by names and it's impossible to find anything fast. I'm slowly working my way towards organization.

Alona Tester said...

All of my newer (last 5 years or so) photos are nicely organised into folders by date, and also by name, or topic. Everything before that is a work in progress - but is getting there very slowly. But I MUST sit in on your Picasa talks while on the cruise, and learn more about it.

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

All good tips Jill. I prefer my folders by theme eg Brisbane 2012 but I have a severe need for some sorting & tidying. Like you I keep my photos separate from copies of docs. BUT I need more organisation soon.

Crissouli said...

I thought I was reasonably organised, till I read your post, Jill... I think I still may have a bit more to do. ;-) i'm spoilt with the search function on my Mac... unless i know exactly where something is, which, mostly I do, I just do a search and everything relative is at my fingertips. My worst problem is adding to my FH program all I want to keep with them. I mean to, I really do... but the Goopy lot and their multitude of Trove entries will have me sifting and sorting forever!

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