Discovery Your Family History

Using Technology To Aid Your Research

When you visit the genealogical department of your local library, or a library specializing in genealogical research, you are likely to see people pouring over dozens of books, making notes to pack in their huge briefcases, or satchels, and they would be lined up at the photo copy machines with coins jingling in their pockets. Years ago, I was one of those many people lugging a load of books and papers and buying photo copies. That is until I discovered the endless electronic sources for scanning and digitizing information, and the countless online resources for downloading digital pictures. The tools you will need to find and gather information for your LDS family search include, but are not limited to: flash drive or external hard drive, digital camera, laptop computer, a simple flatbed scanner or an all in one printer/scanner/copier, (preferably wireless ), and a digital recorder.

Connecting a flash drive or an external hard drive to a USB port on a computer has made information more accessible and portable than ever, without breaking the bank. Although flash drives are more portable than external hard drives would be, you are limited on how much information can be stored on the flash drives. However, if you only want to save a few images, and put your notes in an electronic document, flash drives are ideal. On the other hand, when you are doing your LDS family search, you may find several pictures and other sources of information that you want to save for your family tree. If you have a 500 GB or 1 TB hard drive, you can save more information to add to your family tree, which can also be stored on this device.

Since the early days, when astronauts used digital imaging devices aboard spaceships, technology has improved to make taking digital pictures more portable and cost effective than ever. Nowadays, you can purchase a digital stand-alone camera, or you can get cell phones, and hand held iPads and tablets with cameras built-in. Inexpensive smart cards can be purchased to store thousands of photos in one place. These cards can then be used to transfer all your pictures to your computer.

Over the years, technology has changed to the point of making computers more compact and portable. However, if you prefer to type on a keyboard versus using a touch screen, you will want to look at either the standard laptop or a smaller computer.

In order to scan your old photos into your computer, to digitize your family tree, you have the option to purchase a flatbed scanner, or you can purchase an all in one printer. Whether you get the wireless variety or the printers that connect to your computer via USB port, you have more features with these machines than with a simple flatbed scanner. Not only can you transfer images to your computer, or storage device, but you can also make prints of documents and photos, and make print copies of documents to share with other family members. The wireless printers also allow you to print photos and other items directly from the web.

A digital recorder, which has now taken the place of a tape recorder or even, your smart phone or other handheld device with digital recording capabilities, will be an asset to you when you want to make notes or interview any of your relatives to help you put together your family tree. There are even some digital recorders with a USB connecter built-in so you can store your notes or interviews on your computer, or storage device for later use.

Now that you have the essential tools, it is time to plan your research trip to the library. Before you take a research trip to a genealogy library or repository, it is important to make a list or outline of your research tasks, so you will have a written agenda to follow. There are genealogical database programs available to help you put together your to do list. These programs list research topics by library or repository, so you will not only have a list of research topics you are looking for, but an idea of which outlets to research. These programs can also pull up the library’s online catalogues so that you have reference numbers for the information you are looking for. Be sure that the library you visit allows digital recording, scanning, and downloading of their resources.

Once you have a list of search topics, here are a few tips for gathering your information. When you find the information you need in one or more books, papers, or periodicals, you can use your digital camera or portable all in one printer to take a picture or scan the pages you need for your research. If the information you need is on microfilm, find out whether your library has a digital micro film machine, because information and images can be downloaded onto a flash drive or external hard drive. If the library or repository uses the old microfilm machines, you can take a picture of the text on the machine’s display screen. After visiting the library and gathering all the information and reference citations you need, visiting the cemetery to take pictures of grave markers, and getting photos of burial records, you can use your digital recorder to record interviews with your relatives. These can be transferred to your computer or storage device. These are a few helpful hints to get you started on your LDS family search.

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