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.