Friday, 2 October 2009

What to do With Genealogy Source Images!

A regular question on genealogy forums, and not only from beginners, is how to store and use images from genealogy websites, such as Amazon and Findmypast, on one's PC. The question of storage depends on which genealogy program is being used and whether it only stores the paths to the images or embeds the image in the Source.

For myself, I use Legacy Software which only stores the path, thus only one instance of an image is required to source a number of Events, whereas some other software will embed the image in the Source. In the latter case the number of images increases as the number of times a specific Source increases and is, therefore, very memory intensive. In the latter case, it is better to use the image once only eg. a census may be linked only to the head of a family, but do try to be consistent. When only the path is linked then it can be linked to every instance the Source is used with very little extra memory being taken up. Remember also that images in grey scale use less memory than those using RGB..

Why link the images in the first place?

I find on an almost daily basis when working on my data that I need to check something with the original data, it maybe just a date of birth, and having it only one click of a button away is so much more convenient and faster than going back to the website or searching through a load of hard copies.

How can I publish the images?

This can be tricky! Although the data may be copyright free, the images and indexes are almost certainly not. The answer to this question is to always read the small print on the original source very carefully. The UK censuses, for example, are Crown Copyright, and as I have no wish have action taken against me by Her Majesty the Queen I do not publish these images. Similarly the indexes will be the copyright of the organisation which compiled the index, and how these may be used is determined by that organisation.

I have on my web site some searchable parish registers, this data is copyright free but the format and coding is my copyright. So, abstracting and using the data is fine, but that is all! (I will happily allow copying, with my express consent, provided that my site is acknowledged as the source).

There is another problem with publishing many images, and that is their physical size. For hard copy of censuses a new page will be needed, otherwise they will be virtually unreadable, and for web pages the most convenient way is to use expandable thumbnails.

© Ronald Ferguson 2009

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