©2017 by Donald R. Snow - Page was last updated 2017-01-03.

Go to the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page or Don's Class Listings Page .
ABSTRACT:  Presenting and 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. Instructors are Donald R. Snow ( of Provo and St. George, Utah and Linda Snow Westover ( of Orem, 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 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 is going to 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 follow and see what you did.
  8. Organizational ideas to consider
    1. Use a computerized genealogy database on your home computer, as well as having your data in FamilySearch Family Tree.
    2. Set the program so it keeps track of the changed records and the dates you made the changes.
    3. Use an online collaboration database so you and others can access the latest version, preferably online, with instructions of how someone else can get to it.
    4. Use some sort of research logs so you and others can tell what you looked at and found.
    5. Digitize all your pictures, slides, documents, and artifacts and label them so they are findable with who and what they are.
    6. Include stories, photos, research logs, and links to information right in your computer database.
    7. 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
    8. Be sure someone knows where to find your passwords. 
    9. Store your proven genealogy for the deceased in an online website like FamilySearch Family Tree with the documentation, sources, photos, and stories.  This is available to everyone for their deceased relatives, but not the living ones.  It will stay online and remain free.
    10. You can store your proven genealogy about living people on Family Tree and it will be preserved there, but will be in your Private Space and hence only available to you until you enter a death date for that person; then that record automatically becomes available for everyone to see.
  9. Information about these topics 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 backups and delete the older backups later.  Have backups stored online or somewhere other than your home to avoid losing it all in a disaster.
  12. To help sort files include the date after the name, e.g. [file name]-YYYY-MM-DD.[ext]; this makes them sort in chronological order with the latest at the bottom -- YYYY-MM-DD is the International Date Format (year-month-day, i.e., largest to smallest)
  13. Store your proven genealogy on a website that will remain, e.g. FamilySearch, Ancestry, and Facebook -- You will also have many items you won't want to post on such a website, so keep track of those at home in your own database.
  14. 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 permit can access your database from anywhere -- only problem is when two people work on the database at the same time so the full update from each doesn't get saved and you lose data; GOOGLE DRIVE (15 gigs free) is similar to DROPBOX -- 
  15. ANCESTRAL QUEST -- -- has a very helpful free feature where you and others you permit can collaborate on the same database; you or they check out the database, work on it, and upload it when finished; only one person can work on it at a time, so it avoids the DROPBOX problem of losing data by two people working on it at the same time; AQ will save a backup of your latest AQ database on your own computer, so you can see it without be connected to the Internet 
  16. EVERNOTE -- -- free program; also has commercial versions with 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 computers and 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
    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; safer since it doesn't go over the Internet; can copy local notebooks to flash drives to backup and/or transfer to other machines


  17. New scanners scan directly to flash drives or to email without having to use a computer; many FHCs have Lexmark scanners that do this
  18. My system of scanning and labeling documents, images of documents, 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 names of files scanned that day 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)
    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; allows you to see contents of the file without opening it in another program
    6. Name the file as:  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. With name first, followed by event date in International Date Format the freeware program EVERYTHING -- -- allows finding all files for that person, regardless of location on your computer, and shows them in chronological order to form an interactive timeline of their life
    9. Adding the key words in the EVERYTHING search box shows all the files in chronological order for that person and key word, e.g. all files pertaining to SCHOOL OR NEWS OR MILITARY, for example 
    10. If document applies to the entire life of the person, such as a biography, pedigree, or genealogy, I put BIO, PEDIGREE, HISTORY, or GENEALOGY as key works BEFORE the dated event since these don't fit into a timeline for the person
    11. I use this systems for portraits of the person, but for most photos I use a different system since there are so many
    12. 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
    13. The freeware program EVERYTHING can be used to find, run, move, copy, rename, or delete files from anywhere on your computer -- you can move all files for a person from wherever they are to a single folder by highlighting in EVERYTHING, then drag-and-drop to a folder in FILE EXPLORER 
    14. With my naming pattern, if the files are in a single folder, they sort chronologically for each person without using EVERYTHING
  19. More details about this method are in Freeware Corner notes on my website -- see
  20. Many images of such documents should be uploaded to your Source Box on FamilySearch to attach to people to preserve and share them

  22. Transcribing sound recordings -- use freeware LISTEN N WRITE -- -- has panel with keyboard shortcuts to start and stop the sound recording and a panel in which to type what you hear; very helpful for transcribing digitized recordings; see more details in my notes on audio transcription at
  23. 8 mm movies -- may want to have them transferred to DVDs commercially; expensive, but worth it since new equipment allows them to be transferred without the old "flicker" that we used to see
  24. VHS video tapes -- can transfer these to DVDs yourself or can have it done commercially; commercially done is expensive, but better quality 
  25. After converting movies and VHSs to DVDs, to edit you may need to convert them to another format; helpful programs are the freeware Handbrake -- -- and Format Factory --
  26. Can extract parts of DVDs in appropriate formats with a freeware program like WINDOWS MOVIE MAKER -- -- and then edit the pieces together to form videos by subject, e.g. to form a video about an individual

  28. 35 mm slides -- scan these yourself or have them done professionally, use 2000-4000 dpi resolution for archiving
  29. New small Wolverine slide scanner (about $100); scans slides and negatives at 4064 dpi; fast (about 3 seconds per slide), but you have to feed the slides or negatives in by hand -- available from Costco Online; was on sale recently for $80 -- could maybe hire a grand child to scan them for you
  30. For photographs some FHCs have the new Kodak Photo Scanners available which scan photos up to 8 1/2 inches wide, both sides at once, in various resolutions and formats; very fast and easy to use; I save most archive copies of photos in 600 dpi tif's since tif format is loseless, unlike jpg  
  31. My naming system for digitized slides and photos -- different than my system for documents 
    1. I download photos from my digital camera into a folders by year
    2. Use freeware program NAMEXIF -- -- to extract date and time from camera metadata in each photo file and put it at start of photo name in International Date Format, so photos sort chronologically with photos of same event together
    3. Add other descriptive and key words in title after date -- this is the hard part that takes so much time
    4. Freeware program EVERYTHING finds all photos for any date, event, location, persons, or key words in title on your computer; can find by event date even if you haven't entered all the key words
    5. For photos and slides you scan the metadata only shows the date scanned, so you have to estimate the date taken and put that at the front
    6. More details about working with photos in other sets of my class notes
  32. Many free programs to help organize and generate slideshows of your photos
    1. PICASA -- no longer supported by Google, but is still free and available to download from other websites
    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 with copied 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.
  33. Can upload your photos of people to Family Tree to preserve and share them
  34. 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, so to make an 8-inch print you need  8 x 250 = 2000 dpi
  35. PHOTO FILMSTRIP -- freeware program to make "Ken Burns"-type videos of your photos -- -- adds apparent motion since you are moving around in the still picture; also allows captions and music or narration; helps hold people's interest

  37. This just scratches the surface, but we hope you get some helpful ideas to present and, especially, preserve your 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 .