Category Archives: Organizational Tools

Tech Tip: TurboScan for copying important documents

document-turbo-scanA couple weekends ago I was traipsing through court houses collecting deeds and other documents for my ancestors.  And yes, it was as much fun as you imagine!

But how do you easily make copies?  And cut down on the expense?  Some court houses charge 0.50 cents a copy!  And that can add up quickly.  Also, the books that you find deeds and other documents in can be very difficult to photocopy.  Sometimes you have to take them apart which is very time consuming; sometimes you have to balance a heavy book on a photocopier.

Not all courthouses will allow you to take pictures of documents.  And you should always ask and follow the rules.  ALWAYS!

But if they do allow it, I recommend an app I use on my iPhone called TurboScan.  It’s available on both Apple ($4) and Android ($5). (And I have no connection to the company at all.)

gha2It takes 3 copies of the image and chooses the best one.  You can then crop it on your phone or use the full image.  You can also choose between black & white, color or photo.  I usually go with photo because I want the detail of how the document looked.  On this map, you would hate to lose the detail that the color provides.

Once I’ve scanned all the pages in the document, I can then save it or my preferences is to email to myself.  I label the document with the book and page numbers so I can source it correctly later, and then when I get home, I can go through my email and start processing the documents.

I think I probably made twice as many copies as I would have if I had gone with the photocopier method.  And save a lot of money.  I must have copied around 250 pages.  At 0.50 cents a page that is $125.  Money better spent elsewhere!

It’s an affordable app and I suspect you’ll be happy with the results.  And thanks to my friend Kathleen for introducing me to it.

Sourcing Is An Art: Using Location For Organization

We all know that sourcing is an art, not a science, right?  And there is no one way to write a source. Lots of wrong ways, but also correct variations that allow you to find your source and the information it contains again. Also you allow others to assess where the evidence came from and how credible it might be.  Or might not be.

But I also use my sources as an organizational tool.  I’ll bet that you use Find A Grave in your normal genealogy routine.  When I write my sources, I start with the name of the cemetery:

Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Rockbridge, Virginia,  James C Donald (1836 – 1899), Find A Grave ( : accessed 16 Mar 2015), Find A Grave Memorial no. 34,346,979. Memorial by Thomas Daniels, photo by anne mitchell; photo and maker legible.

Now when I look at a listing of all of my Find A Grave entries, I can easily scan the list and see everyone in my tree who is buried in the same cemetery:


I also do the same thing for census records. It allows me to look within a county and district and see more or less who seemed to live near each other.  If I were going to publish a census citation, I would make it follow the Evidence Explained format, but for examining data to show people in relation to each other, this suits my needs.  And I can find what I need to write the full citation as needed, when needed.


Usually you find people living near each other as expected, but sometimes you find people who surprise you.

Ready Cash and William Wallace appear on separate, consecutive pages in the 1840 census, but in a source listing, the “nearness” pops right out.  Charlton Wallace was very likely living in the household of William.  Martha Jane Cash was very likely living with her father Ready.  In 1842, Charlton married Martha Jane.  Wonder how they might have met!? 🙂


Finding new ways to organize your data and use what you have, usually brings new insights.  And this one, is pretty easy to implement.