Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Installing PAF on your flash drive


We've simply got to start thinking about regularly using those cute little flash drives when doing genealogical research. I can envision two purposes:

-- to store digital copies of documents from microfilm

-- to store our genealogy databases for quick review

Here is a link to a VERY IMPORTANT paper from the Silicon Valley Computer Genealogy Group on the topic of how to install your genealogy database and the program to read it on a flash drive. In this example, the SVCGG suggests using PAF (Personal Ancestral File) but the principles will probably work with any other genealogy management program. See:

1. Compared to a laptop, a flash drive is a lot less costly and a lot easier to keep close to your vest when doing research at a library or archive. Of course, I mean that quite literally, since we tend to "wear" the flash drives on lanyards around our necks. We're assuming that the research facility has a computer you can use, with an available USB port. Checking for names in our database is always helpful, particularly as it seems we're more likely to find relevant data (with two earlier generations) on a here-to-fore lesser-known sibling of our ancestors than on our well-remembered direct lines. Confirming a relationship by a quick check of our genealogy database will determine if the new information dovetails with our known ancestry.

2. It would have been great to use a flash drive to store the copies from microfilm that I made last Saturday at the FHL. One of the probate packets I copied had 73 documents (69MB of digital copies.) Those certainly fit on a CD, but the flash drive storage is less bulky, and won't incur additional expense each time I do additional research. In my case, I had closed the first CD before it was full because I thought my research was finished for the day. But as luck would have it during the last hour, I found the intriguing probate file of my Nancy Jane (Swanker) GOERING's mother Mary SWANKER in Union County, Iowa records on film. Because of the argumentative nature of the heirs, there were numerous documents filed with the court. It is with a preponderance of evidence that I can build my case for Nancy Goering and Jane Goering being the same individual, aka Nancy Jane Swanker per her marriage entry to my Ferdinand GOERING, 10 Feb 1875 in Union County, Iowa.

Well, suffice it to say that I need every last document. I DID save $.23 per page over making a paper copy of each of the 73 pages. But without a flash drive, I had to purchase a second CD for the file storage.

Well, it's just plain cumbersome to protect your laptop when you are in the stacks at a library or archive. Would-be thieves are carrying cable cutters now days! As library computers become more numerous, the use of flash drives will be more readily accepted. The Family History Library here in Salt Lake City has microfilm-to-CD workstations equipped with a USB connection wire to facilitate front-side access to USB ports where their computers don't have them built-in in the front panel.

NOW I know what to talk with Santa about for Christmas.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

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