20 October 2012

What Are In Your Image File Names?

There are several ways that one can keep track of digital images made of records. When I am at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I usually make a great number of digital images of records from the microfilm. 

I don't take pictures with a camera, but that's just me. I use the microfilm scanners. 

If one is not careful, it is easy to make a great number of images and not leave a good audit trail of what they are or where they were obtained. This can be a grave mistake.

In compiling footnotes for a Casefile Clues article, I needed the casefile number for a document that was obtained from a Kentucky county court record. Fortunately the casefile number was a part of the file name. I did NOT follow my own rule of including the film number on every image as I save it. This is really fairly easy to do if one "copies" the file name when saving the next image. When I'm making digital images of microfilm, I try and include in the file name at least the:
  • FHL microfilm number
  • name on the document
  • other citation information not contained on the image itself--court case file number, deed book name/title, etc. 
Of course this information can be added to the image later, but how many of us are actually going to do that? If I'm making several image from the same record, I number them, usually by adding an underscore at the end of the file name with a number. 

Some examples:


I also don't use a flash drive at the Family History Library (shocking, I know). I save the files to the computer I'm using to make the scans and then I email those files to myself at one of my gmail accounts. My phone then tells me I've got the emails, so I know they've been sent. Of course, a person could upload them to any place in the "cloud" too, but I like the email approach because then I can see on my phone that the message has gone through.

Another personal reason I like to use the email is that I can then make notes to myself about the records being used and the images that I made. The email always includes the family names that were located in the records so I can easily search my emails for keywords to pull up the messages containing specific images. The emails also serve as an "on-the-fly" research log.