Google Drive and Document Organization

On my most recent project with Nathan Simmons, I wanted to explore a new (to me) method for keeping research.  I wanted something that I could use anywhere and anytime as my work schedule is a bit wonky. I also wanted the ability to have something that kept my genealogy information separate from other notes. Lastly, it needs to be easy to use else in the long run it will not get used.

My current solution of Google Drive is ugly though parts of it do work well.  Drive is great for storing files and I was keeping master ‘Sheets’ and ‘Docs’ (Google’s version of Microsoft Excel and Word) with notes and items. It works from my home, office and phone.  On the downside I made some of the research log sheets so crazy though that I felt I spent more time sorting than researching.

What I am keeping of this system though are the folders of images of documents, maps, and photographs. Within a master folder I have four main folders.  Documents, Photographs, Catalogs, and an Inbox.

The Documents folder is broken several sub folders such as Births, Census – US, Census – State, City Directories, Marriages, Newspapers, Obituaries, and more.  I do find that I need to add folders from time to time as needed.  Each file is named starting with the Surname followed by First name or head of household for certain documents.  I then add the birth year of the person and lastly the type of document (and a sequence number if there is more than one page to a record.)

YOUNG Leonard b1843 – Pension Record 01.jpg

The Census records are an exception to this naming convention.  For these I have chose to name them starting with the Year, Location, Family Surname, and Head of Household.

1850 – US, MA, Bristol, Dighton –  SIMMONS, Nathan.jpg

The Photographs folder is broken down by different families.  If the photo is of a person, each file is named by the Surname, First name, Year of Birth, description, and date of photo if known.  Similarly, if the photograph is of an item belonging to a person it gets the same naming treatment.  Exceptions to this might be if the picture is of a place where I will always try to begin the file name with the location.

YOUNG Leonard Ivy b1843 - Portrait with Abbie Maria (Pitts) and dog

Leonard Ivy Young and Abbie Maria (Pitts). Date and Location Unknown.

YOUNG Leonard Ivy b1843 – Portrait with Abbie Maria (Pitts) and dog

YOUNG David b1931 – Plane Crash Debris – 1970

Mount Desert Island Maine – Photograph of Mount Young – 2014

This whole system will not work without a list of the items however and that is what is in the Catalogs folder.  I have two spreadsheets, one for documents and another for photos.  The spreadsheets are a way for me to list additional information about each item such as the names of those listed on the document, where the document was originally found as well as a citation, if I have entered the item into Roots Magic or Ancestry, and any additional notes.

[Note – WordPress doesn’t really display tables such as this too well so I have to work this ‘sideways’ compared to what I am used to.  Normally my headers run across the top with each record on its own row.]

File Name – [The Name of the File]
Inbox – [More in a moment]
Folder – [The sub folder the file is in]
Doc Date – [The Date or year of the document]
Description – [Usually a brief description but I have been known to put full transcripts]
Names – [The names of the people in the document]
Source – [A High level look at where the item came from]
Link – [If found online where to find it again]
Citation – [The Source citation – I usually copy and paste from the website when I can ]
Roots Magic – [Has this been input into Roots Magic?]
Ancestry – [Has this been attached to someone in Ancestry]
Family Search – [Has this been attached to someone on Family Search]

Example:
File Name – 1850 – US, MA, Bristol, Dighton – SIMMONS, Nathan.jpg
Inbox – No
Folder – Census – US
Doc Date – 1850
Description – Census Record for Dighton MA
Names – Nathan Simmons, Nancy (Pierce), Albert
Source – FamilySearch.org
Linkhttps://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MD9N-G31
Citation – United States Census, 1850, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MD9N-G31 : accessed 24 April 2016), Nathan Simmons, Dighton, Bristol, Massachusetts, United States; citing family 118, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
Roots Magic – Yes
Ancestry – No
Family Search – No

The photographs spreadsheet looks very similar.  I have kept the source and citation fields in case the photograph did not come from my collection.

The last Folder to talk about is the Inbox. This is loosely sorted collection of documents and images that I have not had the time to fully catalog yet.  I try to not let them stay in the inbox for too long and generally once I fill out a line item for it in the spreadsheet, I will move it out of the inbox.  An inbox is very useful to keep your research moving while you are on a roll and not break your pace but you need to remember to log your items.

This system has worked for me and I find I have to tweak it every now and again.  I have read that others organize first by surname and while I think that direction has a lot of merit, my thinking is that one document is more likely to have many names on it yet each document itself is generally only one type.  Take a marriage record for example.  At the minimum it would (should) have the Husband and Wife listed but many have the parents names as well.

In the next article in this series, I will introduce you to the next step in my (current) process – One Note by Microsoft – and how it has opened up a new door for me.

 

Old Colony History Museum, Taunton Massachusetts

After attending the 2016 26th Annual Pro Video & Lighting Trade Show Thursday, Sue and I found ourselves 30 minutes North of Taunton MA, birthplace of my father and his father. I have many other ancestors from the neighboring towns in Bristol County as well. The Old Colony History Museum is the local historical society and sounds like a place we just had to explore.

image

We were greeted by a wonderful woman who took us for a tour of their amazing collection as well as a bit of the history of the building.  Pro-Tip #1 – ask about the museum’s photography policy at the beginning of the tour and not at the end. I suppose that not taking photographs of every little thing did leave me less distracted.

The first floor gallery and meeting room was much larger than we had expected I think.  Among the items on this floor there were a couple that stood out for me.  The first of which were several grandfathers clocks made in the area by local tradesmen.  They looked amazingly similar to one that stands in my Mothers house right now, handed down by my Grandfather, made by his cousin William Davis.  The other item, a writing desk, also bears a resemblance to a piece in the front hall of her house as well.

image

Clock made by William M. Davis of Taunton, 1907. Photos by Claire Young

The second floor was simply amazing with what must have been thousands of objects to see and discover.  Everything from dolls to clothing to furniture.  Some amazing old photographs, cameras and paintings.  Taunton was home to many cast iron stove makers and several were also on display.  They had an old pump fire wagon, a descent sized multi harness loom, and a display of Native American finds.

Of the many items in this room though there was a lone daguerreotype of a steam engine from the late 1800’s.  My 2nd Great Grandfather Leonard Ivy Young used to work for the railroads in this area and of course this made me wonder if I was looking at something he himself had seen – or even worked on.

A separate room holds military artifacts and for my re-enactor friends several articles of clothing, hats and, accouterments.  Our tour guide told us an amazing story of a slave who fought with the Continental Army in the revolutionary war as a part of a cannon crew.  When he returned he was granted his freedom and gifted a cannon by General Washington himself or at least that is what the rumor and town lore told.  I learned more about Camp Myles Standish mentioned briefly in one of my Grandfather’s WW2 Greenland diaries.

Old Colony Historical Museum items

Sue managed to remember to take a couple of photographs before we left (with permission of course)

In the last room an amazing display of locally made silver goods. Among the normal items there was a silver handled and ebony sock darner, a small silver clad pencil, an elaborate silver and glass pickle jar and my favorite – the Ketchup, Mustard and Relish containers – appropriately etched just in case you forgot which was which.  One name stood out in this room, Albert Pitts, a local silversmith that I will have to keep in mind as my research continues.

The last stop on our tour took us into the William T. and Mary L. Hurley Library also located on the second floor.  Wow.  That’s all.  Wow.  Now, I know I didn’t come here prepared to do any research – nor did we have the time really however I will now offer out Pro-Tip #2.  Have a genealogical travel kit.  I’m not sure how – but I am going to get working on one.

From the Old Colony Historical Museum website about their library:

 Our research collection, which includes more than 7,000 volumes in our non-circulating library and over 400 linear feet of archival material, embraces a wide range of topics.

Some of the largest collections include:

Genealogy:
• Family histories (published and unpublished works)
• Family papers
• Diaries
• Unpublished manuscripts
• Cemetery gravestone transcriptions
• Local church and municipal records

Primary Records:
• Proprietors’ records for the Taunton region
• Military records and accounts from the 17th to 20th centuries
• Materials related to prominent local industries (textiles, machinery, locomotives, stoves, iron, pewter, silver, pottery, nails, tacks, bricks, shipbuilding, etc.)
• Collection of maritime records including diaries, papers, ships’ logs, etc.
• Account books of local merchants, businesses, and citizens
• Selected Bristol County Court records (17th to 20th centuries)
• Newspapers: Taunton Daily Gazette (1848-2001) on microfilm; other newspapers on microfilm and in bound copies as early as 1824

Published Records:
• Vital records for the Commonwealth of MA and the State of RI (prior to 1850)
• Maps and atlases for Taunton and Bristol County
• Taunton municipal records, dates vary (Fire Department, Police Department, Public Schools)
Taunton City Directory, 1850 to 2002
• Yearbooks from Taunton High School (1891-1990, incomplete), Msgr. Coyle High School, Bishop Cassidy High School, St. Mary’s High School, St. Anthony Parish, St. Jaques Parish

I am looking forward to returning, taking some photographs, and of course delving into the library but first – I must prepare.

Our thanks again to the Old Colony History Museum for a wonderful afternoon.

Old Colony History Museum
66 Church Green
Taunton, Massachusetts 02780

Open Tuesday – Saturday
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

508-822-1622

www.oldcolonyhistorymuseum.org