Genealogy: Digital Camera Checklist for Research

Digital Camera Checklist for Research By Barry J. Ewell

I use my camera extensively when I conduct field research and through my personal experience built a checklist that I have found important to include with my camera. While I don’t use all of the list each time I am out, I have come prepared to handle most situations that I have that you will encounter.

  1. Digital camera with built-in flash
    1. Two extra sets of rechargeable batteries.
    2. At least 1 Meg of removable storage:
      1. I carry 3 gig of storage with me—which is about 3,000 photos in JPG format.
      2. I have had discs that were full (which I forgot to clean off), or that failed.
    3. Electric charger for rechargeable batteries.
    4. Transfer cord that links from camera to computer.
    5. Car charger containing one or more plug outlets.
    6. Camera stand.
    7. Carrying case.
    8. Camera manual.
    9. Tripod.
    10. Copy stand (cookie sheet with markings) and extra strip magnets (to use for indoor shooting) will provide consistent results.
  2. Laptop with DVD/CD burner
    1. External hard drive to transfer large amounts of data.
    2. Electrical cord.
    3. Time to build electronic folders for transfer before you leave on trip.
    4. Make sure the loaded software includes:
      1. Choice of family history software and needed family files.
      2. Word processing software.
      3. Digital camera utility software needed to transfer images from your camera.
    5. Carrying case.
    6. Back up your discs of favorite software in case you need to reinstall software while on the road.
  3. Cell phone with key call numbers stored into database/memory
    1. Rechargeable cord.
    2. Ear phone cord.
    3. Extra phone cord.
    4. Extension cord from phone to computer if you use your phone to connect to the internet in emergency cases.
  4. Scanner and camera support software
    1. Scanner support software.
    2. Photo/image editing software.
    3. Internet software to connect to email, etc.
    4. DVD/CD-burning software.
    5. Carrying case.
    6. Note:  Do not take a scanner when traveling via airplane. The scanner will be banged up in transit.  If you need a scanner on a trip when you are taking a plane, consider buying a low-end model once you get there for under $100.00 and leaving it behind as a gift when you fly  home.
  5. Audiomicrocassette recorder to record thoughts or interview persons
    1. 5 to 10 hours of blank tapes.
  6. Research folder
    1. Goalsandobjectives for trip:
      1. Acquisition goals.
      2. Travel plan and approximate times for each phase of research.
    2. Appointment calendar.
    3. City, county, state maps.
    4. Key contacts, addresses, phone numbers.
    5. “Mapquest” maps of destination.
    6. Internet printouts that include addresses, phone numbers.
    7. Library, historical society, city offices, etc.
    8. Printouts from catalogs of key documents you seek to view/film.
    9. Internet printout of things to see.
    10. Packing list so you can recheck what you brought and not leave anything behind.
  7. Scanner
    1. Electrical cord.
    2. Cord for transferring images from scanner to computer.
    3. Note:  When researching in courthouses and libraries keep the computer and scanning equipment stowed safely in the car in a large insulated lock box and only bring them in if needed.
  8. Necessary clothing
    1. Extra pair of old shoes for muddy, cow occupied fields.
    2. Long pants to protect legs from tall grass, briars, and climbing fences.
    3. Extra clothing for when you get wet or soiled.
    4. Hat to protect from the sun.
    5. Sun glasses.
    6. Bug repellent.
  9. Emergency food for when you can’t leave the research work
    1. Energy Bar.
    2. Water.
    3. $10 -$20 for meals.
  10. Larger padded carrying case
    1. To secure equipment that doesn’t require protection.
  11. Hard-shelled suitcase
    1. To protect camera and other digital equipment in their own bags.
  12.  Mapping program
    1. Example: Hardware in combination with its Street Atlas USA mapping software to take advantage of the Global Positioning System (GPS), especially when you’re going to multiple places over several days that may be hard to find.  Rent or have a GPS system installed in your vehicle such as Neverlost.
    2. GPS is extremely helpful when finding cemeteries as well as other locations of genealogical interest.
  13. Extra notes
    1. Note:  Check all equipment upon arrival if you are staying long term.
    2. Charge all equipment before you leave.
    3. Clean removable storage disks.
  14. Miscellaneous
    1. Envelopes in which to put removable camera storage and cassettes.
    2. Note pads.
    3. 3 pencils w/sharpener or 2 mechanical pencils with extra lead.
    4. 3 pens.
    5. Electrical bar strip with at least 4 outlets.
    6. Camera cleaning kit.
    7. Thumb-drives (I like to have at least 8 gig but often will carry two 32 gig).
    8. Extra DVDs (large storage media) for data storage when external hard drive is not available or larger thumb-drives.
    9. Quart and gallon size zip-lock bags to keep equipment dry.
    10. See-through mesh cases to hold cords and misc.
    11. Roll of quarters for photocopying if needed.
    12. 3X5 cards or flip pad for writing/notes in the field.
    13. Handy backpack or fanny pack with multiple pockets for storage to keep your hands free.