Sunday, June 16, 2013
OK - I am already off to a pretty pitiful start, but trying to begin a new blog in May when I teach was probably not the smartest thing to do. Live and learn!
So.... today's topic: making things digital! Let me begin by saying that I am a little OCD - well, actually more, CDO. It is like OCD except that the letters are in order, as they should be! (I can't remember where I heard that one, but it continues to be one of my favorites!) I digress..... As I was saying. I began doing my research by printing out the census forms and family sheets provided by ancestry.com and writing in the information on the sheets to keep track of what I had found. I then tried to keep it all organized in notebooks.
Problem #1: I kept messing up what I was supposed to be writing and it drove me crazy, but using pencils with erasers was not really an option because pencil marks can smear and rub away over time.
Problem #2: To say that many lines of my family (as well as my husband's) have been in specific parts of South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia for a very long time would be an understatement. Because of this, I was finding many different family members living near each other in a number of censuses. I wanted to note this, but then found myself trying to figure out where to file the censuses? I wanted to store each one with all of the families listed (I have a notebook/file for each surname), but then that meant writing it a second time (or third, fourth, etc.), and then what happens if I realize there are more people on the page that have a connection to the family - how can I keep up with making sure I add all of the new information to all of the copies I have made.
That is where making things digital entered into the equation! I spent A LOT of time making a word document copy of each of the .pdf census files that Ancestry provides for us to print and use. All of that time was completely worth it, though! I now have a file for each census year in my dropbox account and whenever I am researching a census, I open up the blank file, type in the information I need to have, save the information as a new file listing the state, county, city and page numbers and voila! I have a digital copy of everything I want and can print it as many times as I need. I now only have to type things once, and can make as many copies as I want for as many surname notebooks as I need. Saving them into my dropbox account also allows me to have access to them when I go do research, without carrying 3-4 bags of notebooks, which is what I was doing before.
Now here is my gift to you (for reading this LONG entry!)....... I am attaching the files I have made for you to use, that is, if you want them. I am completely new to this, so if for some reason you are not able to open the files, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will gladly send them to you via email. Also - I have not finished all of the census forms, so I will continue to update this post as I complete the last couple.
One note that will help you when using the forms: If a name/number you have to type in is too long, try shrinking the font size for that box. This should work. If it doesn't, feel free to email me and I will be happy to help you figure out how to make it work.
UPDATE from June 18, 2014:
I have created an excel file with every Census on it to use if you prefer Excel over Word. Feel free to use it as well!