Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, September 26, 2016

Using Smart Technology to Jump-Start Your Genealogical Research: Part Twelve

A multitude of devices from digital cameras to smartphones, tablets and other computer devices can take images of documents for research and store them or share them with your other devices

With the release of the latest round of smartphones, we can see that one of the most rapidly advancing technologies is the incorporation of high resolution digital cameras into phones, tablets and other mobile devices. The image produced by these new devices rival expensive, professional level cameras. From the standpoint of a genealogical researcher, the new devices enable us to make high resolution images of our documents and other research and share them instantly with other researchers or attach the images as sources to our documentation.

Many of the large online, genealogical database programs such as,, and all have ways to upload and share digital images of your ancestors and other records. Some of the programs, such as the Memories add the aiblity to upload audio files and enables users to add video files.

Using your tablet or smartphone to add a photo to your online family tree is as easy as snapping a photo. For example, when I found a book for my research in England, rather than take the time to copy the information by hand or even take the book to a copy machine and pay for a copy, I simply pulled out my iPhone and took a photo of the few pages I needed for reference.

Of course, there are copyright issues if the images are used improperly and any further use, rather than for research, should be done in accordance with the laws of the country where you live or where the book was published. This almost universal ability of people around the world to take instantaneous photos and share them over the Internet in programs such as Instagram or Snapchat, has revolutionized communication and will have the same impact on research. While at the same time, the copyright issues and the ability of copyright holders to protect their rights have become overwhelmingly complicated.

From the standpoint of the researcher, the ability to gather information, when allowed, has been increased exponentially. Some of the most profound effects of this developing ability to gather genealogically significant images are the huge online cemetery imaging programs such as and  With, the GPS information collected by the device, such as a smartphone, is automatically attached to the photo of a grave marker and the program then plots the location of the grave marker on a digital map that can be used by anyone to find the grave with great accuracy. I have used this technology several times to find graves in large cemeteries and have been able to drive or walk directly to the grave marker I was searching for.

On many occasions when visiting relatives, we find that they have documents or photos to share. Because we now have a camera in our smartphones, we don't have to lose these opportunities to preserve the records even if the relatives do not want to part with the originals. We can simply take digital images and thereby preserve the documents for further use and reference. This works very well with scrapbooks and larger photos and paintings. You can also preserve images of keepsakes and other memorabilia.

If you use an online or cloud-based storage program like, you can upload the images immediately and make them available on your other devices or share them with other relatives. All of these technological advances require a degree of learning and some sophistication in the use of the devices, but there are a huge number of online resources that illustrate how this can be done. Sharing the images online requires the sender and the recipient to have the same programs on their devices. For example, if you want to share a photo using, both you and the person who receives the image need to have the program on their own device; smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.

Here are the previous posts in this series.

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