As I’m working through my organize and input project, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have awfully negligent when naming my computer files. In a good majority of cases, it’s not a big deal. The file name may say “antonsouza”. I open it and I can see it is a World War I draft card. No big deal.
The real problem is newspaper pages. I have many saved on my computer from research done in the Daily Alta, San Francisco Call, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Oakland Tribune. At the time of research, I knew exactly what was on the page that had caught my interest. 4 years later I have no clue whatsoever.
It’s not a problem when dealing with something like a marriage license or obituary. But what about a land transfer, a social event, or other small news item? Many times these news items are tucked away in very long columns headlined “Around the City”, “Real Estate Deals”, or “Society News”. They are usually columns of one item after another with many names included throughout. Unless I know where I am supposed to be looking, I almost never find the item the first time.
If you are lucky enough to have saved the newspaper page in PDF format, it is not an issue. You do a name search and are taken right to what you want to see. But, many websites save them as JPG, GIF, or BMP files. These are not searchable. When I open up one of these files which I’ve named “pachecojoaoparty” or some other meaningless thing, I can’t find them. I have to comb the page item by item. If that doesn’t work, I have to go back and find the page on the website again.
Do yourself a favor. Put some thought in to how you name your documents. With newspapers it is important to know who it is about, the column, the headline (or part of it), and if it’s in the middle of some long column some direction. It will make for a very long file name but at least you will be able to find the item. The example pachecojoaoparty would have served me better as pachecocol4paragraph7. Now I know to look for it in the 4th column and to count down 7 paragraphs.
Later, if I decide to clip that article from the original file, I need to remember that the newspaper information won’t go with it. I will then rename the file something like SFChron7Jun1901pachecopg10col7. This is so I can source it correctly if I haven’t already input the data into my database. Or, if I need to go back to the original for any reason, I know the date, the page, and the column.
Do yourself a favor. Name your files so they are helpful to you. Take special care with newspaper pages. It can be difficult and time consuming to try to figure out what you found the first time around.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com