Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Are Town Offices Going Paperless?

I almost hesitate to put this out there for fear it gets back to someone that some protocol wasn't followed, but it brings up a good point in the fight against paper.  As a genealogist I am constantly sending inquiries to various local historical and genealogical societies as well as town offices asking for information and/or documents. Invariably I am charged a small fee for copying and sending the materials. Of course, when they come to me, I scan this information so I can have it on my computer (where I can find it) and I put the originals in a binder of some sort since I have them (and paid for the hard copies).  I don't need ceritifed copies of birth certificates, or notarized marriage certs.  I just want the document that has the information I am looking for so I can add it to my database or even just note it as a source document.

Recently I emailed a town clerk if it were "possible" to get a marriage certificate of one of my distant relatives and "if so, how much would it cost?"  I did this before heading to work. To my surprise, before I got home I had an email in my inbox with a scanned image of the marriage certificate and no bill.

Are more town offices going the scan and email route when it comes to sending out vital records docs to genealogists? Why not?  It works for me :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Paperless Genealogy - Status Update

Even though I haven't been very active in the blogosphere lately, work HAS continued on the paperless journey.  Of course, I have had to remind my wife a couple of times that this is a marathon, not a race to the mailbox...  but overall things are going well.

A few key updates to mention:

1) (this is mostly for my wife if she stumbles across this blog :) My paperless journey started with genealogy because that's where the bulk of my papers come from. I do continue to have paper in and around my desk, but FAR less than before. Once we get the genealogy system ironed out, other things will fall in place.  For now though, I will still have some work papers floating around, a few emails I've printed off and of course, my most favoritest paper... bills.

2) I have had great progress on the genealogy front. In the past serveral weeks I have printed only 4 new papers, despite working on a new 30 page section on our family history for Christmas gifts.  In past years, when taking on a project like this, I type, print, edit the hardcopy, make changes, reprint, etc.  This year, I've taken a new approach.  Using One Note, I write a paragraph at a time in a "block."  I can easily treat each paragraph as it's own entity and move it around at will until it fits the story just right.  For a particularly difficult passage, I have found it helps to add a new page and look at that section on it's own without anything else distracting me.

3) (this is mostly for my wife if she stumbles across this blog :)  I'm still hoping for a FlipPal scanner for Christmas.  I see great progress in my future with the Flip Pal in my life.   Just Sayin'...

So, the obvious question on everyone's mind (everyone that cares, that is) is... "After annoncing to the world a little over 2 months ago that you were going paperless, is there any significant change?  Is it working?  Are you sticking to it?"

Monday, December 19, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Birth Mother's Letter

In my last post, I mentioned how I was working on writing up a new "paper" to share with the family this holiday season, but I wasn't sure what to focus on. I finally decided I need to share the current state of my search for the birth families of my Great Grandmother, Frances Marion (WILLIAMS) KNOWLTON (DOW) MONTGOMERY.  So... yeah, I'm not quite sure the proper way to put that on paper.  She was born Frances WILLIAMS.  Adopted by a KNOWLTON family when she was about 2 years old. Later, she married Raymond A. DOW, but Raymond died before their only child was born (my grandmother) and then she remarried Floyd MONTGOMERY.  I don't really expect anyone to follow all of that. It's confusing enough for me sometimes, but it sets the stage for what could be a messy research project.

Frances was born in 1914 in New Jersey.  All the rest of my mother's family was from Maine... all the way back to 1790 and earlier, so in addition to the adoption, this is my first project where I've had to do some long distance research.  It's been a long road, and I think I may have found the right family, though I am still trying to get some supporting documentation.  What's made it more "fun-strating" (that's my name for something that is fun and uber frustrating at the same time) is that this whole time, I've been guided by a letter from my GGrandmother's mother, Louise HARDING to my GGrandmother written sometime around 1930.  For anyone that's researching adopted children's ancestry, this letter would seem like a gold mine, but until recently it has raised more questions than solved problems.

As I think about the Geneablogger's blogging prompt, Amanuensis Monday, and my most recent project to document what I've been able to find, it seems only fitting to share the context of this letter today ...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Follow Friday: Nutfield Genealogy

Well it happened today...  I got a new comment, "Where have ya been?"  Ya, I know it's been a while since my last post.  I'll go through spells. It happens when you have 5 kids and "other" things you want to do, too...  like doing some actual research.  This time of year gets really busy for me, not only because of the holidays, etc.. but its about the beginning of November each year that I start writing up another aspect of my family's history to share with family at Christmas.  It's something I started doing a few years ago, and each year I seem to find some new interesting story to share.  I'm not sure which it will be this year yet... Maybe something about my paternal Great-Great Grandfather who was convicted of murder in the woods of Maine around the turn of the 20th century, in a case that was covered internationally by the press... or maybe it will be how I (actually a friend of mine) was FINALLY able to crack the mystery of my maternal Great Grandmother's birth parents.  At any rate, my time for doing a lot of blogging has been limited, and probably will be for a little bit, so I thought I would share someone else's blog that I often stop by to watch when I have some time...


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Introduction To OneNote For Genealogists

Well, I've started using Microsoft's OneNote to organize my digital files, and I realized as I started that there a lot of videos and "How To" articles on the internet about organizing your genealogy, but most of them assume you are dealing with stacks of paper, which of course, I am trying to avoid.

So, after a little bit of use, I put together this "Introduction To OneNote For Genealogists" video.  It's my first attempt at any kind of "How To" video, so I'm open to whatever criticism, good or bad, comes of it. If it's something people seem interested in, I may do some more shorter videos that identify some of the "neat" features of the program and how they can enhance your research, but this particular video is meant as an introduction and to get people thinking about how easy it can be to convert countless binders to a simple set of OneNote notebooks.

Feel free to leave a comment with what you like, didn't like, etc about the video and/or if you are interested in hearing more about OneNote.