©2018 by Donald R. Snow - Last updated 2018-03-09.

Go to the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page or Don's Class Listings Page .
ABSTRACT:  Presenting, as well as preserving, your family history are closely related and doing one helps with the other.  This class will discuss ideas and freeware programs to help with both of these including scanning and file naming, finding it on your computer, storing and showing the data, backing it up, collaborating with others, and having your data so you and others can see later what you have done.  The goal is to have your family history organized, presentable, and in a format that will last longer than you do.  The notes with active links and related articles are on .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. These notes with active Internet links and related articles are posted on .
  3. Tips:  (1)  To put an icon on your desktop for these notes, or any webpage, just drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser onto your desktop.  (2)  To open a link, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control (CTRL) key while clicking the link.
  4. The problem:  Presenting and preserving your genealogy are closely related.  The idea is to work so you, or your descendants later, can pick up where you left off.  Examples and details will be in Powerpoints, demos, and videos.

  6. Obviously, the very best way to present and leave your information is to have it all organized into a computer genealogy database, distribute copies to other people, print out multiple copies on acid-free paper, write books and articles about it all, citing all the sources and giving all the stories and photos, make videos to show your family, and put all the information for deceased individuals in an online database such as FamilySearch Family Tree.  But who will take the time do all that?
  7. Being organized yourself as you work makes it easier for you to pick up where you left off and for others to see what you have done.
  8. Organizational ideas to consider
    1. Home database and collaboration
      1. Use a computerized genealogy program on your home computer with all the data for living and dead; set the program to keep track of changes and when you made them
      2. Use an online collaboration with your family or others, so they can access your data.
      3. Use research logs of some kind, so you and others can tell what you looked at and found and what else you intend to look at.
      4. Digitize all your documents, pictures, slides, and artifacts, and label them so they are findable with what they are.
      5. Include stories, photos, research logs, and links for information in your computer database.
      6. Make slideshow videos of some of the pictures so they can be viewed easily -- People will look at short videos, but won't take time to go through lots of photos
      7. Be sure someone knows where to find your passwords. 
    2. Online database, e.g. FamilySearch Family Tree
      1. Store your proven genealogy in an online website like FamilySearch Family Tree with the documentation, sources, photos, and stories.  Anyone, LDS or not, can sign up for a free account and this gives them a Private Space, as well as access to the Public Space.
      2. Upload all information that is appropriate for deceased people and this can be viewed by everyone
      3. Upload as much into your Private Space in Family Tree about living people as you feel comfortable with; any time you enter data on someone born less than 110 years ago and with no death date, it goes to your Private Space automatically and only you can see it; as soon as you enter a death date for them, they are automatically moved to the Public Space and everyone can then see their data; they will then need to be combined with other copies of their records in the Public Space
  9. See more information on the FamilySearch Blog --
    1. Gary Wright's series "Preserving Your Family History Records Digitally"
    2. To find additional information search the blog for words like "preservation", "digital", "format", etc.

  11. Have backups, backups, backups!  Keep at least two generations of previous backups and delete older backups later.  Have backups stored online or somewhere other than your home to avoid losing it all in a disaster or computer crash.
  12. To help sort files, whether backups or other items, include the date in International Date Format after the name; for example, [file name]-YYYY-MM-DD.[ext]; this makes the latest one always at the bottom; YYYY-MM-DD is International Date Format (year-month-day, i.e., largest to smallest)
  13. DROPBOX -- -- can store a backup of your database here; you get 2 gigs of free space to store any files you want; then you and others that you designate can access it anywhere; the only problem with this backup method is when two people inadvertently work on the database at the same time, the full updates from each only the second one saved will be saved; GOOGLE DRIVE (15 gigs free) is similar to DROPBOX -- 
  14. ANCESTRAL QUEST -- -- has a very helpful free feature where you and others you designate can collaborate on the same database, but only one at a time so it avoids the DROPBOX problem of losing data; also allows you to save a backup of your latest AQ database on your own computer and view it without being online
  15. EVERNOTE -- -- free program with commercial versions having more features 
    1. Notes are saved in notebooks of two types
      1. Local notebooks -- only on your computer
      2. Synchronized notebooks -- available to you on any computer through the Internet and you can share them with others
    2. EVERNOTE is available for all types of devices, e.g. Windows, Mac, smartphones, tablets, etc.
    3. Great place to save info, notes, links, webpages, research logs, data, and if your device has a camera, it allows taking and saving photos; has a photo option like a scanner
    4. Can share a note or entire notebook with whoever you want
    5. Can use a local notebook (saved only on your own computer) to store your passwords and private data such as medical or financial data; safer since this doesn't go over the Internet; can backup local notebooks by copying to flash drives and/or transferring to other computers


  16. New scanners scan directly to flash drives without using a computer; many FHCs have Lexmark scanners that do this
  17. Outline of my system of scanning and labeling document images and portraits so they are findable and automatically form a timeline of the person's life
    1. Scan documents to flash drive as pdf's at 150 dpi and documents with pictures as pdf's at 300 dpi
    2. Scan portraits to flash drive as tif's at 600 dpi 
    3. Scanner automatically names files sequentially as Scanned-image-1.pdf, Scanned -image-15.tif, Scanned-image-7.jpg, etc.
    4. Use freeware program BULK RENAME UTILITY --  -- to change all names of files from "Scanned-image-##.[ext]" to "--Scanned-YYYY-MM-DD--##.[ext]" -- date is written in International Date Format YYYY-MM-DD (largest-to-smallest, year-month,day) so alphabetizing makes them chronological
    5. Use FILE EXPLORER with Preview Panel open to rename the files to include identifying info -- open Preview Panel by clicking on View tab > Preview Panel; Preview Panel allows seeing contents of file to rename it without having to open it in another program
    6. File naming:  SurnameGivenNames(Married Surname)(birth year-death year)-[Event or Topic Date--YYYY-MM-DD]-[Event or Topic key words, e.g. BIRTH, SCHOOL, MARRIAGE, NEWS, etc.]-[Name of document, e.g. CaliforniaOnlineBirthIndex]-Date on document [YYYY-MM-DD]--Scanned or Screenshot date-[YYYY-MM-DD]--##.pdf
    7. Examples:  StaffordAnn(Snow)(Condie)(1867-1948)-1948-05-04-DEATH-UtahOnlineDeathCertificates--Screenshot-2013-10-09.jpg  and  ManwaringDiane(Snow)(1934-2012)-2012-10-10-DEATH-UtahDeathCertificate--Scanned-2012-11-03--34.pdf
    8. Explanations of my file naming
      1. Name first, followed by event date in International Date Format makes it so the freeware program EVERYTHING -- -- lists all files for that person in chronological order, regardless of location on your computer, and you get an automatic interactive timeline of their life
      2. Including search key words, e.g. SCHOOL or MILITARY, in the search box in EVERYTHING shows all those files for the person in chronological order
      3. If document applies to the entire life of the person, such as a biography, pedigree, or genealogy, I use BIO, PEDIGREE, HISTORY, or GENEALOGY as key works BEFORE the event date so these sort with the person, but after all the event-dated items
      4. For photos other than portraits, I use a different system, since there are usually so many they are confusing in the list   
      5. To store the hard copy documents to I put them in physical file folders named "Scanned YYYY-MM-DD", so I know what has been scanned and where to find the originals
    9. The freeware program EVERYTHING can be used to find, run, move, copy, rename, or delete files from anywhere on your computer -- to move files from wherever they are to a single folder, highlight them in EVERYTHING and drag-drop them to the folder
    10. With my naming pattern files in a single folder sort chronologically for each person without using EVERYTHING
  18. More details about this method are in other articles and notes on my website -- see 

  20. Digitize old analog sound recordings, such as tapes, as soon as possible since they deteriorate and so they can be stored, edited, shared, and uploaded
  21. Transcribing digitized sound recordings -- use freeware LISTEN N WRITE -- -- which has keyboard shortcuts to start and stop the sound recording and a panel in which to type what you hear; can also type what you hear into any other text editor, e.g. Libre Office or Word; see more details in other notes and articles on my webpage 
  22. 8 mm movies -- may want to pay to have them transferred to DVDs; expensive, but worth it since new equipment allows transferring them without the "flicker" that we used to see
  23. VHS (video) tapes -- can transfer them to DVDs yourself or can have it done commercially; commercially done is expensive, but better quality 
  24. After converting movies and VHSs to DVDs, if you want to edit them, you may need to convert them to another format; helpful programs are the freeware Handbrake -- -- and Format Factory --
  25. Can extract parts of DVDs with freeware programs and form videos of a single individual, for example

  27. 35 mm slides -- scan these yourself or have them done professionally, use 2000-4000 dpi resolution for archiving
  28. New small Wolverine slide scanner (about $100 from Costco Online); scans slides and negatives at 4064 dpi; fast (about 3 seconds per slide), but is labor-intensive since you have to feed the slides or negatives in by hand; could hire a grand child to scan them for you
  29. For photographs some FHCs have new Kodak Photo Scanners for photos up to 8 1/2 inches wide, scans both sides at once in various resolutions and formats; very fast and easy to use; I recommend saving archive copies of photos as 600 dpi tif's; tif format is loseless, unlike jpg; can archive jpg's, if you don't edit the originals, just copies of the originals 
  30. My naming system for digitized slides and photos -- different than my system for documents 
    1. Download and store photos from digital camera in folders by year
    2. Use freeware program NAMEXIF -- -- to extract date and time from metadata in each photo file and put it at start of photo name in International Date Format; this makes photos sort chronologically so photos of same event are sorted together -- requires that you set the date and time correctly on your camera
    3. Add other descriptive and key words in title after date -- this is what takes the most time
    4. Freeware program EVERYTHING finds all photos for any date, event, location, persons, or key words in title on your computer; they are sorted by date if you have put the date in International Date Format in front, even if you haven't taken time to enter other key words
    5. For photos and slides that you scan and are not from your digital camera, the metadata only shows the date they were scanned, so you have to estimate the date to put in front
    6. More details about doing all this is in other class notes and articles on my webpage
  31. Many free programs to help organize and generate slideshows of your photos
    1. PICASA -- still free and available, but not from Google, and not being updated
    2. PHOTO GALLERY -- free from Microsoft -- may already be on your computer since it is in Windows
    3. Both PICASA and PHOTO GALLERY do editing, slideshows, and facial recognition to help you organize your photos, but the labels they add are only in that program and not in the metadata, so they don't transfer when you copy the photos; PICASA does have a way of saving some labels to the metadata
    4. FILE EXPLORER helps for photo naming with the Preview Panel open -- click on View > Preview Panel -- can make the preview window large; then highlighting a photo name shows it in the Preview panel and you can add keywords to the title without having to open it in another program; works regardless of file type, e.g. doc, pdf, jpg, tif, etc.
  32. Can upload your photos of people to Family Tree to preserve and share them
  33. Helpful information about scanning resolution at  and the National Archives Recommendations at -- recommendation is to scan so final result has 250 dpi (dots per inch) for each inch you want to print; hence, from a one-inch photo or slide, to make a 10-inch print you need at least  10 x 250 dpi = 2500 dpi
  34. PHOTO FILMSTRIP -- freeware program to make "Ken Burns"-type videos of your photos -- -- shows apparent motion in the still picture; also allows captions and music or narration; helps hold people's interest

  36. This just scratches the surface, but I hope this gives you some helpful ideas to present and preserve your genealogy information so it will last longer than you do.

Go to the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page or Don's Class Listings Page .