Organizing Yourself

Methods to keep track of people, documents, photographs, and artifacts through scrapbooking, spread sheets, or databases, and how best to input all this data.

I Don’t Know EnoughTypes of Local History Resource
My friends and acquaintances — and this includes you — go to talks and presentations on local history, and so I am continually surprised when this circle of friends — and this still includes you — says that they do not know enough about local history to be able to retell it. In part, you may be right — you may not yet have the insights and knowledge to write a great American history right off the top, but you can access people, documents, pictures, and artifacts that tell great stories.
Objective: Develop a Catalog of people and items that would interest other like-minded people.

Whelming OperationsUse Organization So They Don’t Become Overwhelming
You will deal with personal interviews, documents, photographs, and artifacts: keeping track of all these items is going to be a challenge, but organization can reduce your anxiety and increase productivity.
Objective: Organize your materials so that you can quickly lay your hands on any particular item

Scrapbooking – The Nation’s Biggest Hobby
Scrapbooking is one of the most popular hobbies of all time. Many of us kept scrapbooks when we were young, but as you look at them now, you see how your photos have yellowed and the glue has dried. Scrapbooking today has a new meaning: a way of preserving history, photos, and souvenirs without yellowing or having things fall off the page.
Objective: Organize your materials without having to learn about computers

SpreadsheetsUsing MS Excel to Organize Resources
A spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel is considerably better than trying to control the data for your collection in a manual set of papers or in your own mind. You might want to read about databases as well before making a final decision.
Objective: Record the data of your collection electronically.

DatabasesUsing Filemaker Pro to Organize Your Information
A database is ideal for controlling data describing your collection. Economical database applications are Microsoft Access (Windows) and Filemaker Pro (Macintosh). PastPerfect Museum is a widely used database in local history but the price is steep. You might want to talk with your county’s historian about this or other databases.
Objective: Record the data of your collection electronically.

Inputting InformationDeveloping and Using Metadat to Organize Your Information
In setting up your file of data (using scrapbooks, spread sheets, or a database), remember that you need to account for five discrete types of information on each item in your collection: a unique name, digital picture, current location, provenance, and item description.
Objective: Input data of your collection electronically

Equipment You Will NeedOn the Road Again, a first draft
You never know when you might have a conversation on local history, so it is good to be prepared at all times (for instance, I had a very successful surprise interview at a local store simply). There are certain items that you will find useful to carry with you as a matter of habit.
Objective: Carry at least a minimum of tools so that you can always access and particular item

Equipment You Will NeedPreparing the Office, a first draft
Your office is a personal space — make sure that you set it up for yourself, and so you will be able to work efficiently and pleasantly. What is right for me will not be right for the next person, and our combined preferences should be secondary to your own.
Objective: Select your office tools to suit your own goals