Sunday, September 30, 2012

I've Got E-mail! Lots of It! 21COFH Week 39

So much for getting my e-mail system written up and posted "tomorrow"! This has been a challenging week to say the least. Without further delay here are my e-mail comments.

I have opted to keep genealogy related emails both in gmail and on my computer. Here's the workflow:
  • After reading an incoming e-mail, I save it (or the entire thread, if we have been corresponding back and forth).  Pdf is the format I have settled on. That way if any files have been attached, the filename and often a thumbnail of the image are included. Since pdf is an accepted standard today, it should be around for years to come. I understand Rich Text Format (rtf) is another good format to save in.
  • Next, I add tags to the metadata which might include surnames, localities and general topics (such as military, land, etc) as appropriate. I can use the description field to include additional information, including a citation, if appropriate.
  • Where? There are a couple options here. One is to save under the surname of the individual I'm corresponding with. Another option is the surname of the subject family we are discussing. Since I have a correspondence folder under each surname, that's the folder it goes in.
  • What about attachments? I've decided to go into the metadata, create a source citation, provenance or whatever is appropriate and use tags. Then the attachment is filed just as any other document or photo would be: in a surname or locality folder. I still have a way of tying the attachment and the e-mail together because of the citation included in the attachment and the pdf automatically includes the attachment info.
  • Once I'm done processing the e-mail (it sounds complicated but it really only takes minutes) and making any notes or inputting to my genealogy software, I will add tags/labels to the e-mail and file it in the appropriate surname, locality or subject folder in gmail.
Confession time. I get really far behind with this and make a point of plugging away as I am able. When I do, I am rewarded because I can easily find what I'm looking for. Motivation to try and stay caught up!

Oh yeah, one more thing. Sometimes I print this stuff out and file it. There's times when an item is so important it just needs to be on paper too!

How about you? How do you handle your genealogy related e-mail?

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Photo credit: Nieve44/La Luz

 © 2012, copyright Michelle Goodrum


  1. Hi Michelle, I need to pay attention to this post! I save genealogy emails to a surname file in my email account. Not ideal. I just tried to save an email in pdf and couldn't find an option to do that. How do you save as pdf? Also, I need to learn more about metadata - any resources to suggest? Thanks!

    1. Hi Denise, You will need a pdf printer installed on your pc. I have PrimoPDF (free). There are plenty of others out there as well.

      I'll be back tomorrow with more comments. I'm getting on an airplane now... :)

    2. Thanks for the tip Michelle. Anxiously awaiting the next article.

    3. Denise, Regarding resources for learning about metadata, you can check the labels on this blog (right sidebar, scroll down aways) for the term metadata. Also, Moultrie Creek Gazette had article article in January called Let's Talk Tags. You can read it here:

      If you check her blog there are probably other related articles as well.

      Books: I use Photoshop Elements and now Lightroom so a good instructional book on those programs should cover metadata.

      Geoff Rasmussen ( ) did a webinar in late June called, "Digital Images for Genealogists and Technologists: scanning, digitizing, editing, and preserving your photos" that was helpful in this regard.

      Also, Josh Taylor did an excellent webinar earlier this year for Illinois State Genealogical Society called, "Going Digital: Organizing Your Research Files Electronically." You can view it on their website, if you are a member.

      Hope this helps!