New archival collections at your favorite repository may be the long-awaited key to solving your family history mysteries! But how can you keep up with what’s new at archives and libraries? Professional archivist Melissa Barker shares her favorite tips.
Not long ago, Lisa Louise Cooke read my article on what’s new at the Utah State Archives. She asked me how I keep up with new archival collections at my favorite repositories.
New Archival Collections May Be Just What We Need
Many of us can say that our ancestors were living in a certain area and their records should be located at certain local archives, libraries, or genealogical or historical societies. Maybe we have even done research there in the past, either by visiting the facility, contacting them by phone or email, or using their records online. Records, photographs, ephemera, and artifacts are constantly being discovered and made available in all of our wonderful archives. Many of these records may not make it to microfilm or online, but they are so rich with family information. (Don’t know where to look? Click here to learn how to find archives and libraries near your ancestor’s locale.)
But trying to keep up with all the new records that are being processed in archives, libraries, and genealogical societies can make your head spin! So how are genealogists supposed to stay current?
3 Ways to Keep Up with New Archival Collections
1. Check the archives website. See if they have announced new records collections that are available for research (many archives do). The archives may even have a blog or newsletter that you can subscribe to, which will give you the latest news right at your fingertips. Not only will the archives announce new records that are available but they will even let their patrons know what has been recently donated to the archives and which records are currently being processed.
2. See if the archive has a social media presence. Archives like to post photos of new discoveries and records collections that are ready for the researcher. I know at the Houston County, TN. Archives I like to scan and post images of great documents or artifacts to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. (Like the post pictured here that I shared recently.)
LISA’S TIP: Remember to use Google search terms to find your favorite archive’s website and social media homes! A quick search such as National Archives Pinterest might be faster than trying to find it on the actual social media site. That search brings up tempting boards for National Archives in both the US and the UK:
3. When visiting an archive, ask: “What’s new?” Talk to archivists about records collections that have recently been processed and made available for research. This is a great way to find more information and records about your ancestors. As an archivist who processes records on a daily basis that are not online or even microfilmed, I get excited about sharing what I find with the genealogy community.
Until next time, this is The Archive Lady, remember it’s not all online, so contact or visit an archive today!
Learn More about Using Archival Collections
Listen to me on the free Genealogy Gems Podcast! This year the podcast is celebrating its 10th-year anniversary. Tune in to hear more inspiring stories and tips to help your family history research. Listen on your computer or on your mobile device through the Genealogy Gems app. Click here to learn more.
Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast
with Lisa Louise Cooke
Republished May 20, 2014
Listen to the free genealogy podcast
Download the Show Notes for this Episode
Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-09. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.
Episode 32: Organize Your Genealogy Files, Part 1
Hard drive organization is one of the great challenges that quickly faces new genealogists—and often continues to plague experienced researchers. In today’s episode I’m going to share a system I’ve developed for organizing your computer hard drive files so that you can quickly and easily locate any document. I’ve been using this system for almost a decade and it’s never failed me. So set down your family tree, just for a little while, and put on your apron as we get ready to do some hard drive spring cleaning and organization!
Self-discipline and organization for the genealogist can be our greatest challenge. But it can lead to our greatest research victories!
Think about it. Your amazing research finds become pretty useless if you can’t locate it whenever you need it. And in fact, it has the potential to become a HUGE time and money waster because when you do need it again, you’re going to have to retrace your tracks, find it again at the original source, and pay whatever additional costs that requires.
So each time you’re tempted to toss that record in a pile on your desk or in some non-descript catch all folder on your computer’s hard drive because you’re in a hurry, just remember that in the long run it’s going to slow you WAY down when you want to retrieve it, and ultimately it’s going to dramatically hinder your overall research.
In these next few episodes I’m going to share the hard drive organization system I’ve created for use in Windows. My goal with this system is that I can locate the corresponding electronic file on my computer for any fact in my database in seconds.
At your computer open Windows Explorer. Now on most computers the C drive is the main drive that you store your files on. But if not just double click on the drive where you want to store your computer files.
Select the C drive by clicking on it and go up to the menu and select FILE – NEW FOLDER. In most versions of Windows, you can also just right click on the C drive and select NEW – FOLDER. You’ll see that the label for the folder will be highlighted so that you can name it – so just type GENEALOGY and press ENTER and you will now have a folder on your C drive called Genealogy. Everything’s going to go into this folder.
Overview of Computer Folders:
Setting up folders on your computer is a lot like setting up a filing system in your office. Think of the Genealogy Folder that we just created as a larger drawer in your desk. In that drawer you would put folders for all the major headings of work that you do. And each of these hanging files have a lot of folders in them with sub headings. And within each of these file folders you could even have more folders.
Well, your computer hard drive can be organized much the same way. And you can create all the folders you want.
There are general items having to do with your genealogy research such as:
- Charts and files
- History topics
- Research trip materials
- General timelines
- Genealogy societies or organizations
- and other things that don’t pertain to a particular family in your family tree.
But the folders I want to focus in on are the ones that do apply to your family lines. So we’re going to create a folder inside the Genealogy folder called SURNAMES RESEARCHING. How to Create the SURNAMES RESEARCHING Folder:
- Click on the GENEALOGY folder to select it
- Go to the Menu and click on FILE
- Select NEW
- Select FOLDER
- Name the folder
In next week’s episode I’m going to focus on organizing my family tree which will take us into the heart of this system.
Do you want to revitalize your genealogy energy, boost your online research skills, and better organize your many family history discoveries? Join Lisa Louise Cooke at the “Reinvigorate Your Research” all-day seminar in Denver, Colorado, hosted by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado.
Genealogists seem to face some universal challenges. Like, how to research online more effectively and efficiently. How to organize what you find (especially when discoveries are spread across various websites and in paper files). Knowing which technology tools to invest in, and how to master them. Genealogy and technology expert Lisa Louise Cooke can help you with all these challenges–in person, in fact, at this upcoming all-day event in Denver, Colorado.
Organize Your Genealogy, Revitalize Your Research
Here’s what you’ll want to know about this event:
What: “Reinvigorate Your Research with Lisa Louise Cooke:” Annual All-Day Seminar by JGSCO
Where: Jewish Community Center, Social Hall, 350 S. Dahlia St, Denver
When: Sunday, October 15, 9:00 am – 3:30 pm (doors open at 8:00 am for registration)
Hosted by: Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado
Registration: Register online by October 9, 2017
BONUS: Cost of admission ($20 members/$35 nonmembers) includes continental-style breakfast, snacks, and a Kosher buffet-style lunch.
Lisa’s host, The Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado, has chosen a fantastic lineup of Lisa’s lectures that really do hit on all those pain points we have. Here’s what classes you’ll get to enjoy all day on Sunday, October 15:
How to Organize All this Genealogy Stuff! Save yourself future frustration and disappointment by putting a solid genealogy organizational plan in place for all the types of items that will be coming your way.
- Organizing All This Paper! The Physical Items Organization System
- Organizing All That Genealogical Data! The Family Tree Data Organization System
- Organizing All These Digital Files! The Digital Organization System
- Organizing All that Web Information! The Online Notetaking System
Google Search and Google Books: Tools for Every Day. Discover Google search tools and new ways for using them to solve the genealogical challenges you face. Learn the secrets of getting more than you ever imagined from the largest online collection of digitized books–Google Books. With 25 million books, many of which are digitized and fully searchable, Google Books should be the first place to which you turn as you climb your family tree. Learn how to make the most of this goldmine chock full of historical data with little-known techniques.
Time Travel with Google Earth. Get ready to experience old historic maps, genealogical records, images, and videos coming together to create stunning time travel experiences in the free Google Earth program. We’ll incorporate automated changing boundaries, and uncover historic maps that are built right into Google Earth. Tell time travel stories that will truly excite your non-genealogist relatives! You’ve never seen anything like this class!
Future Technology and Genealogy: 5 Strategies You Need. Envision your genealogy as technology speeds ahead into the future. There are five key strategies that you can employ right now that will make the ride easier and the results more exciting than ever. Discover the paradigm shift that will make it easy to find the right technology for your needs and learn how to capitalize on how technology is changing the flow of information.
Bring Lisa Home with You
I’m sorry if you’ll miss this event–Lisa’s seminar attendees always leave with a new list of strategies they can’t wait to try. (I’ve actually seen people sneak onto their devices during her presentations and start trying the apps, search strategies, and tools she’s talking about. It’s like they can’t wait after she shows them what’s possible.)
You can bring Lisa home with an annual Genealogy Gems Premium membership. Premium members have exclusive access to a packed archive of video classes–including a new class on Google Books and an entire series to help you organize your genealogy “stuff.” You also get ongoing tips and inspiration in her monthly Premium Podcast (and access to all past episodes). It’s the most affordable and consistently high-quality, tech-forward genealogy education around. And you can start trying her tips any time you like.