I’ve been working on my Genealogy “Do-Over” – making sure that every fact has a correctly cited source beginning with myself and moving back through family groups. I’ve recently completed my grandparents so I’m ready to move back another generation and the thing that I’m finding is that this is so BORING! Sure, as I’m entering information into my Evidentia file, I’m thinking of questions to ask my family or to research, but it’s not the detective work of finding new sources for ancestors from long ago that I enjoy so much.
So today, I’ve decided that I have to take a break and do something different. I’m taking the notes that I’ve created for each family and adding as many images as I can to them. Not the detective work that I’m craving, but at least it’s a creative outlet.
Each family’s notes begins as a basic timeline created in Microsoft Word. I add more information as I find it. I have consistently added cropped or reduced images of actual documents – more to remind me of what I’ve already found than anything. Each of these images is linked to the digital document that I’ve stored on Google Drive so that if I need to see the full page (or see the page in a size that can actually be read) I simply have to click on the image to open the digital file.
Today, I’m adding photos, maps and tree charts as well as any images I can find for the different locations that are mentioned. Right now, I’m focusing on my grandparents. The town where they lived after getting married is only half an hour from where my mother lives now, so we took a “genealogy tour” a couple of summers ago. I took pictures of the building where my grandparents met (now an abandoned building), the school my mother went to (now a community center), some streets paved with bricks back in the WPA era (laying those bricks was one of the jobs my great-grandfather had), the house that my mother was born in, etc.
I’m also using Ancestry’s “view in tree” feature to add an overview of the family whenever a significant event is mentioned. For example, in some notes for my great-great grandfather, I added this image to the page that contains an image of his will along with the transcription.
This allowed me to see the family dynamics when the will referred to different individuals. I can easily see all of the members of the family, not just my direct line.
I might also add an “un-expanded” version of the tree whenever a person’s birth is noted just to show how they relate to others being discussed in the notes.
To do this, I used the Print Screen (PrtScr) button on my computer to capture the image on the screen and then I pulled it into Photoshop or even Paint to crop it. Any photo editing software could be used. And I’ll just take a quick moment to say that I really wish Ancestry would allow us to select a background color for the tree views. Currently, the background is grey and I find that rather depressing…
For maps, I’m looking for county maps (especially if I can find a map from their specific time frame) as well as using Google Maps to show neighborhoods. Sometimes, I can find an image or a postcard using Google Images that matches the area I’m referring to as well. (This is starting to sound like a Google ad – sorry!) When I get to older generations, I plan to look for images that will represent occupations or even images of the types of equipment they would have used during their lifetime. Most of my family were farmers, so I’ll be looking for images of old farm equipment, etc. I’m going to research common household items to add as well.
Someday, I hope to turn these notes into a book of sorts, so adding these images now adds interesting details to the story, but also allows me to burn off some creative juices every now and then!