This week I added a rather extensive combination of hardware and software to my primary Windows PC. The word “genealogy” did not appear anywhere in the new product's description or user’s manuals. Nonetheless, I believe my new acquisition will revolutionize how I store and manage my genealogy documents. I am now more organized than ever before. I also expect to spend less time and effort in managing and citing the many photocopies of documents that I have accumulated over the years.
In short, I am converting my 4-drawer filing cabinet full of photocopied documents and other pieces of paper into a modern document management system. I am now able to retrieve any document within seconds. I can also directly attach these documents to the various records in almost any modern genealogy program.
When I create a record stating that my great-grandparents were married in 1884, I can immediately attach a scanned image of their wedding certificate or a photocopy of the town clerk's marriage record. The name of each scanned image can be anything I choose. In the case of the town clerk's record of my great-grandparents' wedding, I might name it “Ashland Maine Town Clerk Wedding Records 1884 page 12.PDF” or something similar. Can you imagine a better source citation than an image of the original document, complete with the details of where it was found?
For typeset documents, I can even insert the text from the document into a genealogy program or a word processor without retyping the words. My new system includes an excellent OCR (optical character recognition) program that can automatically convert the original document from a printed page to computer text files. . For handwritten documents, the new document management system I am using will also create PDF or JPG files of the photocopied documents. These files can also be attached as source citations within almost any modern genealogy program.
Of course, genealogy is not the only use for a document management system. I can now FAX documents directly from my PC, make photocopies, convert any typeset document to a text file, create PDF files from any document, or send a document via e-mail as an attached PDF file. This system will also scan documents and save them on CD-ROM disks. I can even scan business cards and have the information automatically inserted into Microsoft Outlook's list of contacts. I also plan to scan receipts to simplify the preparation of my next income tax return.
If I ever wanted to scan an entire book, my new document management system is a natural choice. I can stack up to fifty pages at a time into the input hopper and press a button. When I return some time later, those pages are all stored on a CD or on my computer's hard disk, either as a single Microsoft Word document, or a single PDF document, or as fifty JPG images.
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