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Geoff Tani
16 April 2006, 11:39 AM
I have come up with the following clumsy system organizing source files. (By "source files," I mean electronic files of genealogy sources.) If you've worked out a better system, could you please enlighten me?

I used to enter my sources into Reunion, but I now enter them into a separate FileMaker database. There are two big reasons for this: the volume of sources (thousands) was too much to comfortably manage in Reunion; and I wanted to view thumbnails of my sources when I looked them up. So in my present system I scan every source I have, including pictures, documents, etc. If a paper source is multiple pages, each page is a separate scan. Then I rename the scanned files to something like "0001, 0002, 0003, 0004, etc." I import all of them (as references) into a database table in which one record = one scanned page. In the same database, there is a separate table called Sources. In Sources one record = one source, with numbers like "1, 2, 3, 4." (This table is equivalent to Reunion's Sources.) Each source may link to more than one scanned file, such that Source 1(for example, a 2 page newspaper article) links to 0001, 0002; source 2 links to 0003, 0004, and so on. Finally, I write the source number (1, 2, 3, 4...) on the hard copies of the sources.

Some issues I have encountered:

1. More and more, sources are digital ONLY. Emails, stuff from the web, etc. -- They start out as digital only, and I don't need print outs. But I still want to keep those digital only files organized. At the same time, I must keep the hard copies of physical paper sources. So, as I accumulate more sources, my collection is a motley mix of files that came from hard copies and files that are digital only. It is easy to just number the all the sources together as, "1, 2, 3, 4, etc." But maybe only 1 and 4 have hard copies and the others do not. How do I number the hard copies? Just have page 1 followed by 4 (skipping 2 and 3)? It seems like there is a more elegant way. Is there?

2. The number of scans do not have a 1:1 relationship with the number of sources. Because of this, there is a disconnect (or non-intuitiveness) between looking at a source number in the database, and the filenames on the hard drive. For example, I look up source 100. But the files that make up that source have filenames like 0387, 0388, 0389. I suppose I could try to number each scan like 100-1, 100-2, 100-3 to more obviously connect to the source number. However, doing so is difficult, because I don't know the source number, until AFTER I have imported the scans into the database. How have you handled this?

3. The work flow for organizing sources is backwards. In the system above, I cannot write a number on the hard copy until I have scanned it and entered it into a database. Realistically, research works the other way: collect hard copies from a library, put numbers on them, then when time allows, scan them. How have you handled this?

4. In this system, files of all different types (TIFF, doc, xls, mpg, jpg, txt...) are all together. Is there any benefit to having them separated by type?

My questions are indeed nitpicky, but isn't that a good thing in genealogy?;-)

Thank you very much for your help.

AE Palmer
17 April 2006, 07:48 PM
I have come up with the following clumsy system organizing source files. (By "source files," I mean electronic files of genealogy sources.) If you've worked out a better system, could you please enlighten me?

I used to enter my sources into Reunion, but I now enter them into a separate FileMaker database. There are two big reasons for this: the volume of sources (thousands) was too much to comfortably manage in Reunion; and I wanted to view thumbnails of my sources when I looked them up. So in my present system I scan every source I have, including pictures, documents, etc. If a paper source is multiple pages, each page is a separate scan. Then I rename the scanned files to something like "0001, 0002, 0003, 0004, etc." I import all of them (as references) into a database table in which one record = one scanned page. In the same database, there is a separate table called Sources. In Sources one record = one source, with numbers like "1, 2, 3, 4." (This table is equivalent to Reunion's Sources.) Each source may link to more than one scanned file, such that Source 1(for example, a 2 page newspaper article) links to 0001, 0002; source 2 links to 0003, 0004, and so on. Finally, I write the source number (1, 2, 3, 4...) on the hard copies of the sources.
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As a discussion of using FileMaker Pro is not directly related to Reunion, I suggest you contact me off-list at <aepalmer at a-znet.com> so we can improve on your FMP DB.

MabryBenson
20 April 2006, 07:33 PM
I know that saving source material electronically is very popular, and can be convenient.

But if any source document is important enough to keep, I think that a copy should be saved somewhere in a form that is readable without technology (except maybe by magnification such as film). How many of us backed up files on 3.5" floppies? What use are they now? Computer technology comes and goes, and once it is gone, the files saved with it are useless. Sure, you can keep updating your technical equipment, but realistically how many of us do it for everything we have?

I also include Reunion family files in that category. I have printed pedigree charts and family group sheets with all my data & sources for all the ancestors (well, not all the ones far enough back, and since I probably did not do the original research on them, I'll just go to the source I used for them).