19 January 2016

DIY Page Flags for Genealogy and More

DIY Page Flags for Genealogy: The OccasionalGenealogist.com Thursday I posted about keeping a planner for your personal life. Amazingly, I found a bit of time that night to finally make some paper accessories for my planner. Friday I realized I had even better genealogical uses for my little creations.

FYI, this post isn't exactly aimed at Occasional Genealogists. I have considered that you might be an Occasional Genealogist because your other hobbies get in the way. If that's you, this is a hobby cross-over. This is a fun project for any crafty genealogist, though.

I recently purchased a set of clear stamps and dies at Amazon.com (note: links to Amazon products are affiliate links, I make a potential commission if you click through, you pay the same you would, I can afford to keep writing this blog!). The particular set I chose to start with is from Hero Arts's Clearly Kelly line, "Kelly's Planner Clips Stamp & Cut." Here are a few pictures of my test batch just so you can see what I used and what it made.

A Brief Review

I'm extremely inexperienced at stamping but I've done a good bit of die cutting (or electronic cutting, I can't live without my Silhouette Cameo). A lot of my manual die cutting has been with fabric so I was curious to see how these thin dies worked. They cut really cleanly and are much easier to use to cut the slit than an electronic cutter (I don't want to scrape a bunch of tiny cutouts off my mat). It is a pain to line up the stamped image with the die, though (the directions say "stamp then cut"). For me, it's a toss up if I'd prefer cutting with the dies or my Cameo. I'll probably use the dies when making a few clips. For some of the genealogy uses I'm about to mention, I may find a hybrid solution. But let's talk about the genealogy aspects.

Page Flags for Reference

A few years ago I was lucky enough to get on DearMYRTLE's first panel for her first Mastering Genealogical Proof (MGP) Study Group. Studying MGP requires you flip back and forth in the book from the exercises to the text and articles, and also to the answers in the back. Below are a few images of how I found my copy recently.
The top image is the top of the book once the clips were removed (three on top and one on the side). The other photos are the warping caused by just one of the four clips I accidentally left in the book.

Thankfully I know better than to use exposed metal paper clips so I wasn't faced with any rust stains. But the pages were pretty badly mangled. It looked almost like humidity damage (water damage without stains). I didn't really need or intend to leave the coated paper clips or the plastic clip in the book, but it happened. It's not a huge issue since this isn't a book I was concerned with keeping in pristine condition but it's also lucky I didn't leave more clips in or that this wasn't a library book.

I realized my new paper page flags would be much better for this use. They stick up from the book so it's a little easier to find them (more on the one downside of this in a moment). They are obviously thinner so they have less affect on the book. Here's the big advantage, they're paper. You can label them. They're easy enough to make you don't have to be able to reuse them so if you are doing something like a study group, why not customize them? This particular set comes with two stamps for the arrow style clips, one with a blank section intended for you to write in. You could also use either of the other two styles included if you need larger tabs. You could create tabs for each chapter down one side and then flag sections you want to return to along the top (or any method you like). Page clips are a popular idea so there are plenty of other sources to get a similar product (to DIY or completed flags). Here are the paper page flags in action in MGP.

I tested if these would stay in the book with minor abuse. If you are using these for a study group, you may need them to stay put for a while. Flapping the book around as best I could without damaging the binding, they didn't budge. The moment I set the book down on the flags (i.e. on the top edge or side), they popped right out. You're probably good if you're doing an online study group or if you carry your book in your arms. If you put it in a bag, I don't know if the flags will stay put. A different style might extend farther down the page and not have this problem but just test it before you toss your nicely flagged book into a bag.

Page Flags for Digital Images

This next idea is the idea that got me excited. I've had bookmarks similar to these page flags so using them for reference isn't much of a stretch. I'm also not that concerned about using sticky notes in my personal library so that's another option for longer term bookmarking. Sticky notes can leave a residue on books which is an archival concern, though. Especially for library books which may be used for several lifetimes and may have many more sticky notes placed in them than a personal book would.

If you take digital images of books, and lots of them, like I do, you have to have a system. If you don't you just end up with the digital equivalent of an unsorted pile of paper. Part of a good system is often marking each page in a book you intend to copy and then making all the "copies" at once. Normally I have not done this because the best marking option has been sticky notes and as I said, they can leave a residue. Anything that doesn't stay attached to the page can be tricky depending on the book. Larger books are easier but even the thickness can make a difference (both thickness of the book and your bookmark). Rather than deal with this, I've just gone with gathering page numbers from the index and then starting at the beginning and photographing and reading in the same pass. All the stopping and starting can lead to errors. I've opted for potentially making errors because of this rather than making an error when a loose bookmark falls out.

DIY Page Flags for Digital Copying-Genealogy
I'm excited to try these page flags as a solution. They have the same advantages as mentioned in the previous section. They're thin and don't distort the page. You can write on them. Plus, the flag style creates a little arrow you can "point" at the part of the page you're interested in (use one for each item on that page). This alone is a reason for me.

Here they are in a book of abstracted records.

I think a numbered set would be great to help keep the images and research log entries in agreement. In the event a page number inadvertently gets cut out of the picture, a numbered flag can save the day. They might work as a quick reference. It will also help you flip to the next marked page if you've got lots of pages close together, no more missed pages.
I said I love my Silhouette Cameo so I'm actually considering making a longer thinner version that will be a better pointer (you can always pull them part way out if they cover the text when it comes time to photograph).

If you are looking for a little craft project or a replacement for sticky notes, maybe these page flags can help you.

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