To celebrate my article in the new issue of Family Tree Magazine (co-authored with Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton), I’m running a series of posts on teamwork tips and technology tools for collaborative research. This post covers one of my favorite free sharing tools: Dropbox.
A cloud storage service like Dropbox or iCloud is a dream come true for genealogy researchers who want to collaborate from across the living room or across the world. It’s also great for accessing your own research from multiple devices without ever having to copy it over: your home computer, laptop, tablet/iPad, smart phone.
Basically, Dropbox looks like any other file folder you keep on your computer. Open the folder, retrieve and save files to it like any other folder. But this folder lives online as well, so more than one person or computer (with approved access) can access it. You can save documents, images and other files in real-time. And it’s free!
What can you share on Dropbox?
- Research sources. Photographs, documents, audio files of interviews, materials from books, etc. Basically any source material you can think of that can be preserved digitally!
- Your to-do lists. Whether working alone or as a team, it’s important to have–and use!–a to-do list. The list should track specific tasks, like ordering an ancestor”s death certificate or searching for an obituary. For the article in Family Tree Magazine, the editors created a brand new Research Planner and Log: a comment-enabled PDF that lets you keep track of tasks, including when they’re done. This is a great document to use in Dropbox!
- Research notes and writing. Think timelines, biographical sketches, drafts of writing projects, GEDCOM files (the universal file type for family tree data) and any other files related to getting the research done.
- Links. Keep a file with your favorite links embedded in it, including links to digital books, vital records and other resources. You can simply copy and paste links into a word-processing file called “Links.” Include notes before or after each link, like “great local history blog for Marietta, Ohio.”
For more on using Dropbox and other collaborative tools on your tablet, check out my book Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse, available as an e-book or in print.
I also hope you’ll check out our article “Teaming Up” in the December 2013 issue of Family Tree Magazine. You’ll find more technology and teamwork tips, including more on Dropbox for genealogists.
Check out the other blog posts in this series: