Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why I LOVE My Multimedia, Tuesday's Tip

CABS for Reflections From the Fence

Randy at Genea-Musings, this last weekend in his weekly challenge of Saturday Night Genealogy Fun,  posted a great challenge, especially if you love statistics.  It read, in part:

"If you have your family tree research in a Genealogy Management Program (GMP), whether a computer software program or an online family tree, figure out how to find how many persons, places, sources, etc. are in your database."

I was fascinated by the responses.  I noted that quite a few of us that answered this challenge were using RootsMagic 4.  No, I did not do a statistical study of the responses, just seemed a lot of us were using RM4, a simple observation that was made with a mind that was at that moment over tired and over stressed.  LOL

Something I did pay closer attention to was the number of people that did or did not use their program to it's full potential.  I am referring, specifically, to the use of multimedia events capabilities.  (When I was not so tired I went back to Randy's post to re-read many of the entries, to review the numbers other bloggers had posted.)

I was a bit surprised (better make that VERY surprised) that some researchers did not use this wonderful capacity at all. Some had a few items listed.  I did not see many that had a LOT of multimedia events.  Let's put a qualifier on the word LOT, say, over 2,000 multimedia events.  You can go look at my entry from Saturday evening, but, I will tell you here, I have over 8,000 multimedia events for a little over 16,500 individuals in my data base.

Why do I have that many?  Simply, because I just  L*O*V*E  this capability of any genie data base.  Here are some things I have done and why:

1.)  Record photos and maps of cemeteries where our ancestors are buried.  This allows me to keep this information all in one place, organized, super easy to retrieve.  Reasoning, as I always have my computer with me, I can pull up that information any time, any place, as long as the battery on the lap top is sorta charged.  LOL

So, if, and this really happened, we happen to be traveling near a burial place for an ancestor, I can pull up the map, drive to the cemetery, and personally visit the burial place.  This little trick/tip was used last fall when Man and I were in the first weeks of THE Trip, and I realized we were very near the burial place of my second great grandfather, Zachariah A. Trumbo.   I wrote about that visit here.

Think about how useful this would be if you have a map of the cemetery.  Think HUGE cemeteries with HUGE gardens with HUNDREDS of burials in each garden.  If you have what I call a site map, and you have an idea of what garden your ancestor is buried in, you might be able to locate them without additional assistance by the cemetery staff.  That said, depending on how HUGE we are talking about, row identification and position in said rows sure would help too!   I have site maps of cemeteries that only have 2 or 3 small(er) sections, if I know about where my ancestor is buried those maps are very helpful!   Taking this one step further, frequently when I visit a cemetery I either obtain a map, or hand draw one myself, mark the burial spots, scan it, and add it to the data base.

By the way, RM4 also allows you to also record GPS data about your cemeteries.  I also record notes about cemeteries in this area of the data base if I happen to have something of interest, such as history or news articles.

Below:  The Media Album for Georgia City Cemetery where Zach is buried.  Photos of sign and maps.

2.)  Heirloom and specialty facts with multimedia attached.  I developed this trick/tip when I decided I wanted to photographically record some of my family heirloom/antiques and include them in my data base.  I have linked the photograph, in most cases, to the ancestor who owned it, and then linked to a fact, "Heirlooms", listed with the person who currently owns this artifact (usually Man or Moi).

This serves several purposes for me, it allows me to take my heirlooms with me no matter where I travel or how long I am away from home and it records for my children and grandchildren the ownership and stories of these precious (to me) heirlooms.

Below:  Part of the "Heirlooms" Media Album I have linked to the Heirloom fact under my name and biography in RM4.

I also have a fact called Greeting Cards.  I scan the cards, front and interior, record the date, and link chronologically.  I don't have to save the cards if I don't want to.

3.)  Photos of family and as many ancestors as I can find photos for.  Immediate family photos are easy, the tough part of my job as "recorder of the family stuff" is that there are so many GREAT photos of the current generations.  The further backwards I go, or the further off the direct lineage I go, the harder photos are to find.  Sometimes, sadly, the only photo I have for any one individual is that of their headstone. I may have their birth record, marriage record, land records, death records, and I will attach scanned versions of those documents to their Media Album, but, it is so sad that the only photo I may have is of the headstone.

My approach to "telling their stories" is two fold.  First, I attempt to tell each individual's life story with the facts I have discovered, birth, marriage, death, burial.  If I happen to have stories, newspaper gossip articles, anything else, I include those as well.  Next, I attempt to tell their story with images.  From birth to death.  The image story contains photos, but, it also contains documents, birth records, marriage records, death records.  The story of their life, in images.

Below:  My grandfather's story in images, from the letter that states his birth was NOT recorded in his birth city to World War I and World War II draft registrations, marriage certificate to my grandmother, his death certificate, social security application, headstone, and of course, photos.  Nope, not many photos of Hayden, none of his youth.  Always looking for more, maybe some day - - - -   Note the heirloom photos at the very end.

The Media Album is arranged chronologically, from birth to death, except for the heirloom photos, those I place at the end.   I maintain this organizational method throughout my data base.

I have been asked, if having multimedia events attached to my program slows down my program, and I have to say, not noticeably.  I have nothing to compare initial load up times as I do not have any databases of this size (over 16,000 individuals) with no multimedia events.  I do note a slight slow down when I load a specific individual that has a lot of multimedia attached, such as one for Man, or our children.  The delay is so slight that it does not hinder my work speed or productivity.

I always have to wonder, and I am not questioning other researchers ability to "find" what they have scanned, but, why have they spent hours and hours of scanning, naming the photos/documents, organizing the photo/documents, and not include the images in their data base, linked to the proper ancestor?   I look at it as the obvious next step, scan, link to the ancestor in my data base, tell the story.

Having taught a genie class several years ago in a RV park we were staying in I can tell you that showing what you can do with your family history and photos in a genie program really will get your students excited.  Show them an example of a Media Album and they TOTALLY get it RIGHT now!

Now, if RM4 would just give me a slide show capability to go with my multimedia events.  SIGHHHH, wouldn't that just be heaven???  (Believe that Legacy does this, or did.  And, yes there are other ways to set up slide shows, but, mmmm, that is extra work, and, mmmm, since I have so much extra time on my hands, OK, sarcasm set aside, I just am not up to the extra work, I want it to be part of the program.)

There are numerous ways to use those photos in publications and reports, discussing those reports could be a series of blog posts!!

You know what they say, a photo is worth a thousand words, and your multimedia is how you incorporate all your fabulous photos and documents into your family history, telling the stories.

And, it is ALL in ONE place!

* RM4 does not store the photos inside the program, all of my photos and documents are stored in a subdirectory of C (my hard drive).  I have named this directory and in fact, have sub-directories inside of that.  If I understand it correctly, and I am sure if I am wrong you will correct me, and please do, that RM4 stores only the links (the addresses) to the photos and documents inside the program.

**RM4 does not limit you to just photos and documents scanned, you can attach other files, such as PDF files, or videos or sound.  PDF or videos or sound files currently cannot be saved in a chronological manner, they tend to attach to the end of the Media Album.

*** Disclaimer, I am a user of the genealogy data base RootsMagic4.  I am not an employee, I don't have any gratis gifts from them.  I paid for my copy of the program.  They own the copyright and all that stuff.  I am simply, a user of the program.



TennLady said...

I had to go check and was surprised to find that I have 15200 multimedia items linked for 32955 people.

Apple said...

Love, Love, Love your Heirlooms category! Especially that you have connected the original owner to the current owner.

Also like the cemetery maps idea. I have maps in my files but haven't added them to my family tree database.

Thanks for the ideas!

Carol said...

TennLady, I knew you had mega more than I, so does Karen. Never have I met two more dedicated genie/input artists! LOL

Apple, you are welcome.

Linda McCauley said...

I use Legacy but also make heavy use of multimedia. I don't see a number anywhere but if I have a photo or a document for an event then it is attached to that event. I also attach source documents to my sources. I really like that ability because if I'm working in my db and need to double check something about a source, it's right there. I don't have to go searching through folders to get to it.

Carol said...

Linda, RM4 has the capability to attach the source document right to the event, say a death event, you can attach the death certificate as a multimedia image to the fact. I have not gone there yet, but, it sure is a powerful ability/choice.

The reasoning for my choice of putting ALL multimedia images in just one place for each person on my data base is another long discussion, short reason: books and the format that I prefer.

Linda McCauley said...

You can attached the document to an event in Legacy as well. I always attach the source document to the source and I sometimes also attach it to the event. (It's just a link so there is only one copy of the doc on my computer.) My events are set up for how I want them to look on my website so if I want that doc to be available on the website, I attach it to the event. It will then show as a thumbnail on the webpage and can be clicked for a larger view.

Carol said...


I am still learning all the tricks of RM4, as I have only been using it since April, when during the middle of my SLC stay I was forced to purchase a new computer and upgrade to RM4 from RM3.

After your last comment, I looked deeper into the sourcing capabilities and discovered that, indeed a multimedia image can be attached to a specific source as well as an event. For those that want to use it, there ya go, it is there. :-))))

And, yes, you would use the same link/address of the image, so the document would only be stored on the hard drive one time, but, could be used in several different places in your data base.

And, your use for web pages, and the document being attached. Pretty cool! Multimedia ROCKS!!!

Thanks for your comments.

Brenda Leyndyke said...

Carol, I love RM4. Thank you for the great ideas. I especially like the Heirlooms idea and am going to copy/steal your idea. Thanks.

Becky said...

I'm one of those people who have scanned photos and documents but haven't "attached" them to my Legacy database. It's a matter of time - not enough of it! LOL. But I do like what you have done and it gives me some ideas. Thanks, Carol.

Carol said...

Ok Becky, I'll give you that as a true bonafide excuse!! LOL That said, you can find your files on that computer faster and better than any one I have met! I have seen you in action!

Michelle Goodrum said...

Love your idea of attaching cemetery maps, photos, etc and attaching scans of greeting cards.

I have to admit, I haven't used this feature because I am paranoid. What if I get a new computer. Will the links be lost when the files are transferred? (I had this happen when Clooz 2.0 came out a few years ago - all those images I worked so hard to include vanished.)

What I often do is include pertinent file names with various facts and sources in my database. Still it's no where as good as including the actual image. Sigh.

Any insights?

Sorry I'm so late to the party. Your post came out about the time I left on my cross country drive. So I saved it in order to properly comment :)

Carol said...


With RM4, your photos are NOT included in your database program, ONLY links are.

I save all the photos etc., to specific directories on my hard drive, I believe I have several, but, the main one is, named, "Family History Photos". Not terribly original I know. I also have one for videos and one for documents, some of which are more like books in a PDF format.

Photos attached to my multimedia area have moved every time I needed to move, via GEDCOM. I made a move from Family Origins to RM and then from RM3 to RM4 when he re-wrote the entire program.

I did loose the photos that were attached to my Heirloom facts and the greeting cards one too, and I have no idea why. But, note, that those were facts that I made up, I thought I did them correctly, but, obviously something went bad. I came up with a fix methodology to reclaim the MIAs, and fixed it, took an evening or two, it was not hard, just took a bit of time.

I do not have photos attached to individual facts, like the death certificate image is NOT attached to the death fact. That was a choice I made (and can change if I so desire with some time and patience).

SO, I cannot specifically state that photos attached to facts will transfer, but, Anne and Karen have images attached to facts, and I know I would have heard about it if they had major troubles. Anne uses RM4 and Karen is now using Legacy.

I believe that overall the way this is handled in RM4 with the links being part of the GEDCOM for transfers but the photos being held in a totally different directory on your computer will keep your work safe. In fact, I am betting on it. Bet over 8,000 times on it. And counting - -