Friday, June 19, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Week 10 - DNA and Digital Organization


The topics for Week 10 were 1 - Reviewing DNA Testing Options and 2 - Organizing Research Materials - Digital

Reviewing DNA Testing Options

If you saw my last post and the photo of my new genealogy filing system or you take a look at my digital files above, you'll see that I have a Smith line. It also happens to be a brick wall and one of the lines I'm most interested in for a couple of reasons. There is Mayflower mythology in the Smith family. I believe it was my maternal grandfather's father who said that we are descended from Francis Cooke, although I have absolutely no evidence to support that claim. More importantly, my 2nd great-grandfather, Benjamin Smith, was born in the vicinity of the Long Island village where I grew up and still live. That wouldn't be a big deal in and of itself except that we moved here from the Chicago suburbs and my parents had no idea of any ancestry on Long Island when we did.  Long Island in 1822, when Benjamin was born, was lousy with Smiths and even with Benjamin Smiths and I have not yet found any evidence of the names of Benjamin's parents, so then DNA, right?

Well, not so fast.  I am a female descendant of a female Smith. I need a male Smith cousin to take a test. I actually have a male Smith cousin who has the genealogy bug and who might be persuaded but I'd like to do a little more research before I approach him about DNA. With all the answers we are looking for, I  have never heard him suggest it, so I don't know how he feels about it. There is a Smith DNA project which I should really investigate further and then, we'll see if Mr. Smith Cousin is willing to do a cheek swab or if there are other ways to break through this wall.

In any case, Thomas MacEntee has given all of us plenty of resources in the Week 10 post which I plan to add to my resource toolkit as I consider the options.

Organizing Research Materials - Digital


I am in the process of organizing my digital documents to mirror the color-coded system I am using with my paper files.  If I had a PC, I would be all over Folder Marker which I have seen demonstrated on some Google+ Hangouts and may even have seen posted in the Do-Over Facebook group. Folder Maker lets you change the color of folders and even their shape I believe. Unfortunately it is not available yet for Macs. What I can do without added software is to tag folders with one of 7 colors of dots as in the screen-grab at the top of this post (which you can click to enlarge).

My naming convention for documents is the same as Thomas MacEntee - DOE John b 1900 WWI Discharge Cert.  If John Doe were discharged prior to his marriage, the document would be filed in his parents' file because he would still be part of their family group. If he were discharged after marriage, the document would be filed in his file because he would be the head of his own family group.

Part of me says this seems like a lot of work when I can just do a simple search to find any document on my computer, but I like the idea of my digital files and paper files being organized the same way. And if it ends up that it doesn't work for me, I can always change it, wouldn't be the first time!

Images (Digitized Slides and Photos)

I am organizing my digitized slides and photos differently from the document files, and that is by the way they were taken/stored. For example, I have been scanning 18 carousels of slides that belonged to my father. Each carousel has its own folder. It may seem a little confusing, but it makes sense to me. Naming the images themselves has been another challenge, but one I can deal with better now that I know about...


Wow, how did I not know about this? Thomas MacEntee's webinar about metadata included in this week's post has been enlightening. Unlike a birth certificate or other vital record, photos often hold the images of more than one person but listing everyone in the file name can be impractical. That didn't stop me from trying, though. Now that I know about metadata, I will have to revisit my photos and my photo-naming. It will mean more work, but it will be worth it.

Backing Up

When I finished my first big digitization project, my maternal grandfather's photo albums, I saved all of the files to two memory sticks and gave one to my mother and one to my in-laws. The one I gave to my in-laws was actually lost to Superstorm Sandy, and I did not have any cloud storage at that time, so it was a good thing I chose two sites for off-site storage, although my Mac is still going strong as well.

These days I am saving files to Dropbox and my Mac's hard drive. I know I should also have an external hard drive and I am planning to purchase one this summer. Should I still back up to a thumb drive to keep at a family-member or friends house? It wouldn't hurt, I guess, but I probably won't do it right now.

One thing that needs improvement is the habit of uploading my digital images to Dropbox. The .tif files take a long time to upload so I don't always do it right away and then it is so easy to loose track of what is done and what is not.

As I said yesterday, once I am finished with this cycle of the do-over, I will dedicate some posts to my processes for digitizing photos, slides and negatives including archiving the originals and organizing the images.

Tomorrow morning I am headed to my first-ever in-person genealogy meeting. I'll post about that this weekend as part of a post about Week 11.


Joan said...

If you want to have the color highlight the entire filename on the Mac, try XtraFinder. It's free. In the XtraFinder preferences, there is an Appearances tab, and you'll find Legacy Label Color Painting. This will color highlight the whole file name like it used to before Mavericks (I think), changed it to the silly dots.

Anna Matthews said...

Thanks, Joan, I will definitely look into that.

JL Beeken said...

For metadata, I would recommend something where you can use batch-mode. It will significantly reduce your work time. I personally like Photo Mechanic which also works with Mac although it has a price tag. XnView is free and although a good reader of metadata not quite so handy for writing it.

Anna Matthews said...

Ouch, a little pricey for me at the moment but I think I'll at least do a trial and check it out. Thanks for the tip.