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January 23, 2012


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Very funny stuff to read.

I have kept a lot of business and all genealogy email. I collect it and categorize it in EverNote v.2 and print it out occasionally as PDF, one email per page. Then I stitch the related PDF's together using an editor.

PDF's are easy to search either one at a time or en masse. Just in case I need to.

I considered using GMail ever so briefly and decided Google doesn't really access to my email too, although I'm sure they'd love to have it.

E-mails are todays mode of communication and it's important to retain SIGNIFICANT e-mails, especially those related to family history. Before I delete key e-mails to relatives or communications with genealogists or requests for records, I copy them into word docs and save them in appropriately named files. It's been enormously helpful when following up months or years later or when trying to pick up a thread of information that was misplaced physically or dropped from your memory.

Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful emails. Yes, I do keep my emails. Someday I may clean some out, but they often prove handy in preseving memories my head does not remember.

What a great idea about using Gmail as a backup! I accidentally deleted my email folder recently when trying to get rid of a bug! I recouped all I could from a memory stick and gmail. Because I had failed to back up recently, I lost all of 2011. I have my own website and receive emails from all over the world. I was devastated! It took 3 weeks to rebuild my, now incomplete, contact lists! Lesson learned!

How topical! This January I've been going back through my saved Genealogy mail and getting rid of some that I'd saved as clues that have proved to be irrelevant and attempting to contact some people who have now proved to be connected. Finding current email addresses is challenging but I've had some success. I've hesitated deleting any as it's great to be able to check in moments whether you've been in touch with someone before, but I decided it really was time to thin down my archive as well as doing a review. I've found some great information that at the time didn't appear relevant.

I've also got emails right back to my early emails in September 1996 though I appear to have been online for awhile by then. I have 155 dated pre 1 Nov 1996. However, it wasn't until 1997 that I started seriously doing Genealogy.

I've always used Eudora for email and still haven't found a replacement all this time after they stopped developing it. One of the reasons I stick with it is the ability to sort on multiple criteria and the search ability.

I know how to set up Gmail to pick up current mail from various accounts, but I don't know how to get it to import email that is currently archived on my computer. Are you emailing your old mail to your Gmail account, or is there a more efficient way?

Kathy - I'm not sure I want to answer this :) there is a more efficient way but it took more knowledge and skill than I had before I started. Here's what I did. In Outlook, you have to create a new account but it has to be set up with IMAP settings. Just set up the account with your gmail login and it should do it for you automatically. Then, you will be able to see both your gmail and your outlook accounts/folders. From here, you can simply drag/drop your outlook emails into the gmail folder. When you're done, your Outlook emails will be up at Gmail. Just an hour ago I finished the process and I'm now completely using Gmail.

I good reason to achive all those emails is that I find upon re-reading them I pickup extra clues that I missed the 1st or even 2nd time I read them

Unfortuneately my Windows XP computer died. I did subscribe to Carbonite, but I have had to get a special program to read all my old e-mails from 2004. It is a long process. I was not able to transfer my
e-mails to Outlook or Windows Live Mail. I had been using Outlook Express with my XP. I too have set up a gmail e-mail account strictly for genealogy.
Marilyn in TX

Geoff, in your article you mentioned the Smart family. I have a Lot of "Smart's" in my family and having trouble tracking them. Can you please advise where you obtained your info so that I may also search them?

As for emails, I almost never delete and my husband always deletes.

Glenda Shepherd Olejniczak

Using Yahoo - I save some email in folders as I go along but also never empty my SENT file. At the end of each year I rename it "SENT 2011" (etc) and start over. Since I am in the habit of acknowledging any good stuff I get (genealogy or otherwise) this gives me a searchable file for the year's activity. And since it is on Yahoo I don't worry about my computer crashing causing a loss.

Keeping all my personal emails was a no-brainer. I knew from the very first one I received (March 1997) that it was family history in the making. I've even kept some of those jokes and "please keep this email going" messages that make the rounds because they show the types of things people thought were funny.

I've made a Word document for each family member and save the emails with all headers and attachments. Now, since my nieces and nephews have switched to texts, I'm adding many of those messages to the Word documents too.

Backup is easy. I have external hard drives and make incremental backups every week and I subscribe to Backblaze, which is an amazing company. The initial backup takes weeks, but then it works continuously in the background. $50 a year for unlimited storage.

Don't you wish you had all your grandparents' correspondence?

I use folders to organize my email correspondence into subjects - Travel (by trip), Groups I belong to (Bookclub, Church),etc. Some really useful ones are separate folders for each family line which I title by surname + correspondence.

Hello Geoff. As an inveterate hoarder, I can relate VERY well to your situation. And to Peter YORKE: yes: I have discovered the same thing: re-reading old messages gives me more clues which I missed on earlier readings. Just had a breakthrough in a brick wall recently; and when reading through old messages for that line, discovered that this avenue had been recommended by someone years ago. grrr.. at myself.

I have been berated by a few people for using my Outlook as a permanent e-mail filing cabinet; but so far have not found an easy way of storing them otherwise -- and don't wish to use Gmail or Yahoo. I think that this slows down my Outlook e-mail a bit, but that is the price that I have to pay. AND yes, I also panicked last year when I lost a lot of my Outlook emails when a "compacting" process stalled. grrr..
Thanks for all of your notes, Geoff; I really enjoy them. Ray who bought Legacy version 2 -- probably at around the same time that you joined them. A great company.

My emails are a significant source of advice, references, and I cite them frequently as sources of genealogical information. However, I have a different problem: I receive daily/weekly/monthly genealogical digests, and there are frequently items of interest in them. However, I do not know how to file them so that I can see what the item of interest is. I now have 100+ emails with the subject line "Belarus SIG digest", "LitvakSIG digest" or "Legacy tips and genealogy news", and cannot see at a glance why I thought they were significant enough to keep. Has anyone found an easy/meaningful way to tag them, or store them without creating many folders in my inbox? (I use Outlook and gmail)

Glenda - I've done a lot of the research personally on the Smarts. Send me an email if you'd like to correspond on the family.

I copy and paste into my aol.com address, the part that interests me, mail it to myself and depending on how you want to list the title, then put it in that folder. Peggy

Celia, if you install a desktop search such as Copernic on your PC, the subject line of all those SIG digests will not matter so much: you can search for what you need and at least know that the resulting lists is all relevant.
I have 3.2 GB of Outlook PST files going back to April 1997, with text files for individual messages going back to September 1996 (comes of being an archivist... :-)) As long as Outlook can still read the old messages, and I still do a weekly off-site backup, it feels reasonably safe, though the Gmail option takes care of both the backup and obsolescence issues at once. Harder to get text messages onto the PC, especially from an old phone...

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