Research, groundwork and the first suitcase

It’s going well so far. New Year’s Resolutions are usually going well during the second week of January.

Looking back over my previous successful Year of endeavours, there are two key tasks to tackle early. First, do some research. Second, get some groundwork in place. If both can be done before heading back to work, all the better.

This year, for my Year of the Document, that early research is probably very important because I need to understand exactly what I’m hoping to achieve! The overall idea is to come to grips with life’s records, my own and a bit of family history.

Research

Digital Archive versus Digital Library

Neither a digital archive nor a digital library felt entirely right for my circumstances. An archive is usually where documents are buried, to only occasionally see the light of day for specialised research purposes. I’ve got all this family stuff that needs to be available to other people, easily and often. And I have blogs to feed.

A digital library, on the other hand, isn’t the obvious answer as there are things no-one gets to see while I’m alive (tax returns spring to mind!).

The aim, then, is to establish a digital storage structure that manages this public/private divide.

Result: Everything goes into the Archive folder and copies go into relevant category folders for things like Family History, Web Publication, Projects, etc. If it’s not copied to a category folder, it’s not available for anyone else to see.

Groundwork

The make-or-break moment was deciding that this digital storage structure needed to be set up NOW and all existing folders on my laptop moved to their new home, and then copied if appropriate.

It’s taken a couple of days.

Remarkably, there was an unexpected side benefit. I’m now more critical of photos. A photo is usually taken to be seen by someone else. So, there’s no need to keep them if they don’t fit into one of the categories. Now I can contain the exponential growth of image files spilling from my camera phone.

Next Step

Time for a test to see if it works. A small test.

In my Grandmother’s cupboard was a brown suitcase. When we opened it, we found it didn’t belong to her. It belonged to her sister, Aunty Pearl.

Gran had kept Aunty Pearl’s last suitcase, the one with her bits and pieces from the aged care residence, the little things she kept with her after everything else was sold.

It’s a good place to start because in this small tub there are photos, documents and objects, a nice cross-section of the types of things that need to be digitised.

And the result will connect us to a wonderful lady and her life story.

What are your thoughts?

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