Category Archives: Media

How To Download FindaGrave Tombstone Pics

Tombstone pics are a great way to document your family (keep in mind that the info came from relatives and, since they are people, they don’t always get the info correct.) To snag that pic be sure to click on it to open it full view. You can click and save the pics as they appear on the memorial page or even on the photos page but they probably won’t be as large as when you click and open the individual pics. Make sure to add metadata info to your pic of where you got it. Something like #1234567 would be great. I usually give it a filename like this: SMITH, Joe (tombstone). Do you have any hints for tombstone pics?

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How FTM Sorts Media

Here is a hint to help when you are working with Media. When in the Media Workspace the files are sorted by Filename, not by Caption name. This can make a big difference if you are searching for a record, especially if the Filename differs from the Caption.


Note that Census records are actually sorted by first name instead of last because the Filenames are created like this: 1880 United States Federal Census – Thomas A HARMESON.jpeg. The first letter that makes this record different from the other 1880 census records is ‘T’ for ‘Thomas’.

Hint: if you are going through the list and updating records like I have been, it can be hard to keep track of your where you are on the list if you change a Filename because FTM auto sorts the thumbnails. BUT, I have found that I can find the spot where I stopped if I change from Detail View to Collection View and click on the bottom-left thumbnail.

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How To Reduce The Number of Images

I noticed that my disk drive space has decreased significantly. Yikes! What have I done now? Well, I have been working on my Census before 1880. I was saving each record individually and each one had an image saved with it. That is a lot of images, which take up a lot of space. I have decided that instead of saving each one separately as I have been doing, I will merge all individuals for each record. Then I will be able to delete the extra images and save disk space on my hard drive. This is a time consuming task especially since they had soooo many kids back then.

In the future I plan to add the image for the Head of Household but when I add the other household members I will not download the image. There is an ‘Items To Merge – Media’ check box at the end of each merge that needs to be unchecked if you don’t want to download the image. Then I will go to Sources and use ‘Replace’ to merge everyone into the Head of Household record.

Yay! More disk space coming up.

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How To Take Pictures of Tombstones (Updated)

Pictures of tombstones are a wonderful because they preserve the info indefinitely. Tombstones are worn away a bit each and every day and eventually become unreadable or even destroyed. I volunteer for and visit local cemeteries as often as time/weather permit. You should try it. It gets you out and about for a bit of fresh air and exercise as well as helping other genealogists that live across the country and cannot visit their families graves. When I go I try to canvas an entire cemetery instead of just those that I am looking for. Usually a lot of the pics have already been taken so you only need to work on those that aren’t added already or don’t have pics.

Here are some tips:

  1. Plan the time-of-day you will visit. You don’t want the sun shining in your camera – behind or overhead is best. The direction that most of the graves face is also a factor.
  2. Things to take with you:
    1. Smartphone with FindaGrave App.
    2. Whisk broom for sweeping off pebbles, leaves and the like.
    3. Small shears for cutting back grass from edges.
    4. Gloves if you like.
    5. Hat or sunshade.
    6. Sunscreen if needed.
    7. Large sheets of paper for making rubbings – only if allowed.
    8. Chalk for rubbing on top of the paper – only if allowed. Some graves are crumbly and even this method can damage them. It is wise to get permission.
  3. Be careful!
    1. Some cemeteries are a bit ‘squishy’. I try not to walk on the actual graves if possible.
    2. Here in Georgia there are wild pigs in the woods and one must always be on the lookout.
    3. Leaves make good hiding places for snakes so if there are a lot of leaves you will want to come back in the winter or with a leaf blower.
  4. Plan! Take an overall look at the cemetery and make a plan. Start in a corner and work your way around. Many times I have had to stop working and it is nice when you can return and start right where you left off.
  5. Taking pictures:
    1. Clean up by trimming any grass, removing gravel, etc. Be careful not to remove any rocks/pebbles that were intensionally placed. Many people leave a pebble when they visit.
    2. Set any flowers that obscure writing to the side – be sure to replace them exactly as they were!
    3. Get as close as you can to the tombstone or zoom in. You want to get a good clear shot so that the entire tombstone is in the picture. Remember those family pics where the head was cut off in the pic? Same thing applies here. People want to see the entire tombstone. If the writing isn’t close enough then take another close-up shot of just the writing. If there is a plot or a family plot it is nice to take a pic of that too.
    4. Squat down so that you are level with the writing.
    5. If one person is still living you can protect their privacy by only taking a pic of the deceased person’s half.
    6. If a tombstone is illegible and you have permission, make a rubbing.
    7. Make note of husband/wife/family names so that you can link them up later. Also note anything of interest. If a tombstone is hard to read, write the info down.
  6. If you leave before you are finished make a note of your stopping place. Usually the names of the graves on either side suffice but noting large trees, bushes, etc. help too.

Happy hunting!

Update: FindaGrave also has some info on the subject on their FAQs page see the Cemetery Preservation links.

Here is a link to what looks like a great book on the subject at Google Books.

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Source Media

Dear Ancestry, Why doesn’t Source Media show up on individuals Media? Why do we have to copy it for each Source Citation? Maybe I am missing something. Does anyone have info on this?

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It has taken me a couple of days to figure out exactly what I needed to do next.

I used to dump any new media into the media folder thinking that I would go link it up later – bad idea, very bad idea. I now have media files in my media folder that have never been linked up and I have no idea which ones they are. The only way I can think of to remedy this is to copy all the records over to another folder and then add/link them back up one-at-a-time. Argh! Don’t you just hate it when you mess yourself up like that?

Step 2 is to move ALL of your files (as opposed to those that you have downloaded from Ancestry – see Step 1) to a different directory – a ‘holding directory’ if you will.

  1. Backup your database and your media. Do a hard disk backup for good measure.
  2. Open a Finder window, locate your media directory and create a new directory on the same level as your media directory. Refer to Finder Help for info on how to create directories if needed.
  3. Select and drag all of your media files to the new ‘holding directory’.
  4. Goto the Media Workspace in FTM but keep your Finder window open.
  5. When you find a media item that belongs back in the original folder use the Finder window to move it back (it may be helpful to have 2 Finder windows open: one for the ‘holding directory’ and one for the media directory). Note: Now is a great time to rename the file if you like. I am naming ‘my’ media with prefixes using the categories that I have set up in FTM (I do NOT recommend renaming downloaded Ancestry media). Here are some of my categories: Birth Records, Books, Census (I have a categories for each year and one for State Census – these are all Ancestry downloaded files though), Church Records, City Directories, Death Records, Documents, Immigration/Passenger, Land Records, Letters, Marriage Records, Military Records, Newspaper Articles, Obituaries, Other, Photos-People, Photos-Places, Sons of Am Rev, Tax Records, Tombstones, Voter Records, Wills. You don’t have to use the ones that I have and yours could be completely different depending on what records you have found on  your own. I like to use a filename convention (fancy way to say consistent filename pattern) like this: Media Category-LAST NAME, First Name (Maiden Name). This helps group all the same names together so I can easily see if I have duplicate media items and having the maiden name is just-plain-helpful.
  6. Next I am use the color tags available in my Finder window to mark the completed media file with a green dot. I don’t usually use color coding but I think this is a good application. I will mark problem files with red so that I can work on them at a later date. It’s always nice to be able to complete a task without getting completely derailed by little problems that come up. Be sure to make a note so that you don’t forget to go back and clean up any red tagged media files.
  7. Now you can relink the media in FTM with the media in the directory. In the Media Workspace click the broken link (it should be in red) and then select ‘Manually search for this file.”
  8. When the window opens you can either navigate to the directory/file OR you can drag the file file from your Finder window. I find the later method to be quick and easy.

This isn’t a quick process, especially when I have 1,000+ media items to go through but it will insure that all of the files are named correctly and are linked correctly.

Note to self: Always keep new media files in another folder until they are properly named and linked!

Does this make sense to you? Do you have a better method? I’m all ears.

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How To Organize Media – Step 1

I currently have 3,539 media items in FTM. Yikes! I am sure that there are a lot of duplicates and I really want to get a handle on this because media is so important. I have researched but thought you might like to join me for this little, er, well, large adventure.

Step 1 is to sort all uncatagorized media into Categories.

  1. Go to Media Workspace.
  2. Under Groups select ‘By Media Category’.
  3. At the bottom of the list click ‘Uncategorized’.
  4. Select and move all media items to categories. You may need to create more categories like I did. Here a great video by Crista Cowan of that explains this well: Moving media from one category to another is not a quick process. Be sure to allow some time to complete this task. Suggestion: Have something else to do while waiting. Here is a bit more info from Ancestry although it is older (2010). It also covers renaming media file names:
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