How to organize digital files?

A lengthy day in the archives can result in dozens or even hundreds of photographs or scans, in addition to transcribed notes. If you are taking or transferring notes to your computer, there is the potential to lose valuable information or misplace the correct citation for the documents. How do you keep all of those files organized? Just as with basic note-taking systems, researchers will have to develop a system for organizing files based on their own research projects and habits. One needs to break digital files into two basic components. When you arrive at a new archive, you need to create a new electronic folder labelled with the name of the archive. If you are, for example, looking at three separate collections on the day that you visit a new archive, within the folder created for the large archive, you need to create three separate folders for each particular collection you are planning to explore. Within the collection folders, you need to start a new document in a word processing program to record the photographs you have taken or to transcribe and describe written documents. When photographing, you need to take pictures of the outside labels of boxes, folder labels, and the documents themselves. Then, on the master document for the collection you need to record what photographs have been taken and assign a citation to particular documents. The advantage of this system is that you can look back at your notes several weeks or months later and be reminded of exactly where a collection of transcribed documents or photographs was originally found and provide a complete citation for the collection. The disadvantage, however, is that you need to recall what collection a document was in to track it down (applications such as Google Desktop and Windows Search can help streamline this process). While this system works well for some, others may find it confusing if they are working with numerous collections with overlapping names and keywords. Each historian should develop a unique system based around their strengths for memory and recall as well as one geared to their particular kinds of archival materials.

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