How Do You Track Your Digital Documents?

How Do You Track Your Digital Documents?

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I have found myself in a situation that I am sure is not unique.   Between 2009 and 2011, my home life was in turmoil.  My 14 year old dog passed away, I was given a puppy, my Dad’s health worsened and he passed away, and I moved.   For about 2 1/2 to 3 years I became a collector genealogical data–meaning I collect alot of data from online sources and did very little input.

In between, I have been slowly digitizing the records I collected prior to the modern era.  You know, when everything a photocopy or handwritten notes.

I’ve got many, many, many documents on my computer.  I’ve been slowly organizing them into folders by family and then by couple.  This is better organization for me today.  Years ago, I was on the phone with my binders in front of me.  Today, I more than likely at my computer with Thunderbird email open attaching documents to an email.

Here’s my problem.  I have no clue what has been input, what has been printed out, or both.  When I started researching it was easy to keep track of, I made a notation on the back of the document “input 3/1/2000” or “input done”.  I always knew if a document had made it into my database or not.  But, how do you keep this straight in the digital world?

I once had a very clever plan for organizing my work on my computer.  I made folders that said “printed”, “input”, or “input and printed”.  Clever…until I decided to reorganize my folders by family rather than type of research.  Once I was fairly well into moving documents I realized I was leaving behind the input/printed designation.

I’ve had to rethink how I make these notations.  The only thing I’ve come up with that stays with the document is to add it to the file name.  “pacheco joao birth cert input done” is alot clearer that just “pacheco joao birth cert”.

So, now I’ve left with another cleanup project.  I have hundreds of documents on my computer that I have no clue as to whether they’ve been input.  The only thing I can do is go through them one by one to see if the information is in my database.  Then change the file name.

I wish many times throughout my research journey I had the foresight to envision what I might be doing with my records 5, 10, 20 years out.  When records first came online, I didn’t not see what a mess I was creating sometime in the future.

If you have come up against this problem?  How did you solve it?  Did you end up doing alot of backtracking like I did?

2 thoughts on “How Do You Track Your Digital Documents?

  1. My surname files do not have items added unless they are linked directly to the person involved in my data base.

    Anything outside of those parameters means I need to look at it, deal with it and link it.

    Of course, there is this one “temp” file, no, don’t ask! LOL

    I have added the word linked to the original photo files, the unedited pictures from the camera since 1999. Then, I know if I did them.

    Perfect, HAHAHA, NOPE!!!

    Good luck! I’ll be watching for further developments and reports from you on your progress.

  2. For anything I have that has not yet been added to my genealogy database, I’ll try to scan/digitize it right away, then send it to myself via email(I use Gmail). I can then put a label on it of “to do” and this way I have a list to work from.

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