Did you ever wish you could look over another genealogist's shoulder to see how she does things?
Look at this. I'm doing everything the right way from the get-go so I don't have to double back and fix or add any facts. As I was methodically tackling one item on my genealogy to-do list this weekend, it struck me. There are so many steps to this process!
Does anyone else go to this much trouble? Let's find out.
Take a look at what I was doing so thoroughly this weekend.
The Goal: Replace Several Bad Document Images with Good Ones
Years ago I viewed and transcribed every vital record (1809-1860) from my grandfather's Italian hometown. I used some poor-quality microfilm viewers at 2 Family History Centers.
At the first FHC, I used their computer to capture several of the images as jpg files. But they weren't very clear. At the second FHC I took iPhone pictures of some documents projected on the surface of the microfilm viewer. Terrible, ghastly quality.
Now there are excellent, high-resolution images of those same documents available online. I downloaded the entire town (and others) to my computer to make my research easy. So I'm able to replace those crummy old images in my family tree with the excellent copies.
But I'm also:
- cropping the images in Photoshop
- editing each image's properties to include a title and the source URL of the image
- deleting the bad image from Family Tree Maker
- adding the new image and editing its date and category fields
- the date is the date of the event
- the category is Vital Records
- recording each document in my document tracker spreadsheet.
1. Identify a bad image. The Media tab in Family Tree Maker makes it pretty obvious which documents are the bad ones. So I can pick any one and dive in.
2. Find the good image. I've got all these Italian vital records carefully organized on my computer. Since my subject, Benedetta Pisciotti, was from Baselice, I go straight to the Baselice town folder. She died in 1831, so I go to the 1831 deaths folder. I know the date and I can see the document number in the original. This makes it easy to find the image I want.
3. Crop the image and name appropriately. If there's more than one document in the image or it's crooked, I crop it in Photoshop. I save it in the proper folder and name it in my usual style: LastnameFirstnameEventYear, so PisciottiBenedettaDeath1831.jpg.
4. Annotate the image's properties. In each of my folders of Italian documents I have a text file called "URL format". It contains the format of the URLs where these documents came from. I simply replace the last 5 zeroes in the saved URL with the last 5 digits of the image's file name. Now I right-click the cropped image and choose Properties, then the Comments tab. I edit the Title field ("1831 death record for Benedetta Pisciotti") and the Comments field ("Benevento State Archives" and the image's original URL).
5. Replace the image in Family Tree Maker. To remove the old image from Family Tree Maker's media library, I detach it from Benedetta and put it in the trash. Now I drag and drop the new image into Benedetta's Media tab. The image retains the title and comments I gave it in step 4. But I also want to enter the date of the event and select the Vital Records media category. When I synchronize, all these details are on Ancestry.com for potential cousins to see.
|Check the boxes and click "Unlink Selected" in Family Tree Maker to remove the old image.|
|Don't skimp on the annotations.|
6. Update tracking spreadsheet. Finally, I record Benedetta's death in my spreadsheet of all documents. I add a line for Benedetta and put "1831 (cert.)" in the Death column to show that I have a copy of a certificate of her death in 1831.
Detailed, yes. But it's a simple enough process.
When I complete this project, I'll be rid of those dark, fuzzy document images. And I'll have fully annotated images. They'll have a descriptive title, date, category, and source citation.
I think it's worth all the steps and the juggling of File Explorer, Photoshop, Family Tree Maker and Excel.
What do you think? Is your tree's validity worth this kind of effort?