Saturday, January 21, 2012

Storing All Those Certificates and Such

So how do you store your important genealogical certificates and documents? In my mind, I consider anything I had to cough up money for and/or possibly wait several months for, a certificate. So things like:

Birth Certificate
Death Certificate
Marriage Certificate
Divorce Decree
Social Security Application
Draft Registration

Plus there could be more that are a bit more unusual. For instance, I have a copy of the papers for one relative that officially changed his name.

Why do I worry about how to store these things? Hey, it's a scary world out there! And beyond the obvious answers of fire, pestilance and plague hurting my precious little documents, there is always the thought of getting to these things easily when I want to look something up. Or maybe I just want to stare at them all and kind of wallow in the thought that they are mine, all mine.

So I like to keep the originals (If I have originals) in plastic sleeves in a binder.

I'll have additional paper copies of them stored with the originals, and also in other family-specific binders and folders. Also, for you eagle-eyes out there, yes, I do keep a copy of Family Tree Maker 16 on my computer because I love the deliciously decadent feeling it gives me when it tells me my grandmother is also my cousin. The newer versions just don't do that (unless a really new version does and I just don't know about it, tell me if it does!!!). So it stays.

Back to the topic at hand...of course, there is the magical Redundancy Rule that saves me every time - it means everything has been scanned and stored on my computer's hard drive, on an external hard drive, and also burned onto a CD - one copy is stored at my house, and a 2nd copy is forced upon my father to store at his house in case my house ever detaches itself from its foundations and collapses in on itself like the house in Poltergeist. I hope I didn't just ruin the movie for you. Also, because I like to take things to an extreme (in case you didn't already notice), I store my electronic copies as both TIFF (for long term storage) and JPG (for actual use - emailing, posting).

Finally, I keep an inventory of what I have. Why? Because yes, I have actually ordered the same Social Security Application twice in the past. And you who have done that know it is not an insignificant price or waiting period. So when I realized I did that, I decided to keep a spreadsheet inventory.

I'm not saying my way is the right way - it's what works for me and I'm always open to new ideas!!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Starting Again Follow-Up

I wrote a post over my Christmas holiday talking about being side-tracked in my genealogy research. It was really great to see that many people have gone through the same thing and I appreciate everyone's comments!

So, what did I end up doing during my days home relaxing? Well......

1. I caught a nasty little virus on my work laptop which has cured me (at least temporarily) of going to the cheezburger network sites. Yep, something mean downloaded onto the computer while I was on the comixed site. I do miss my kittehs, but I also have 2 real life one's that live with me, and they (especially one of them) do dopey things all the time to make me laugh, so I'm okay with that. For now.

2. I spent time with my parents. :-) Sherlock Holmes was a fun movie!! Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Well, I wouldn't call it was a good mystery, but not the easiest movie to watch - some tough stuff happened.

3. I did lots of maintenance on my online life - updated and strengthened passwords and cleaned out and cleaned up temp files and trash on my home computer. I made sure my work contacts list (ie, stored in outlook) and home contacts list (stored in comcast) actually matched. I made sure I had the most recent versions of firefox, IE, Adobe, etc (see #1 above).

4. I burned CDs for family members of photos from our trip to Walt Disney World last Fall. I also pored through the hundreds of photos and picked out the best to get printed into real life photographs to send out to my grandfather so he can have pics of his great-grandchildren at Disney.

5. And finally, finally!!! I got to work on some genealogy "stuff". I had intended to do what I stated in my blog post - start with me and fill in documentation holes working backwards. But I got sidetracked by deciding to follow-up with my DAR contact on my application (part of #3 above).

A while back, I submitted an application to DAR for one of my ancestors on my mom's side. I got a letter back asking for some additional documentation to further prove the relationship between some of the fathers/sons. I've had a hard time doing that so far. I have hope that I'll be able to do it one day, but it will require a lot of time going through records in local historical societies I think. In the meantime, my father had suggested using an ancestor on his side of the family.

My father and I have split up the research so that I do my mom's side of the family and he does his, so I'm not intimately familiar with all the people on my dad's side.

So I asked my contact about submitting another ancestor while I continue to research the one and she explained what to do.

Then in a matter of days, I was able to pull together the documentation for an application to DAR on my paternal ancestor Kinsey HARRISON (from Maryland).

Why so easy? Because his Revolutionary War pension file is on Yay!!!!! Then I found a transcription of his son's will online that named his son! Yay!!!!! And from there I had census records and actual birth/marriage/death certificates. Man oh man did it come together more easily than my New York ancestors!!!

So I didn't spend time doing what I said I was going to do for my research on my break, but I think it ended up being pretty worthwhile. No matter what, whether my application gets accepted or not, it still prompted me to gather together some really great documentation for that HARRISON line of mine that I didn't know much about before. :-)