TurboScan step-by-step. Making your research so much easier!

Step-by-step title_72 dpi 400x200My background is in computers so when I see new things that catch my attention, I am all over it. After catching the livestream from RootsTech 2015, I got really excited because most of what I was seeing all pertained to getting the stories and finding creative ways to share the information.

As we all know, you can do the most impressive amount of research, but if no one looks at it except for the facts, then it kind of like having a sports car that never makes it out of the garage!

One of the problems that I have been dealing with since I started into genealogy some fourteen years ago is getting copies of documents. It used to be that when I would go to a library or courthouse, I would have to find the copier and make sure that I had enough change.  So, I am talking about a lot of quarters or dimes which would flow like water when I came across something that was really important!

Gradually, I figured out the I could take a digital camera and in a special mode, I could take a picture of the page and then download it onto my computer, edit it to make it lighter and easier to read and then crop and print. Compared to making all the copies, I thought I was on the cutting edge.

After I got my first iPhone, I gradually started to find myself without a camera and pulling my phone out to grab a picture.  I mean, who carries cash around anymore for the copiers let alone any quarters? Now, I realized that I am no longer carrying my camera and all my copies are being done on my iPhone. But still, all the pictures have to be downloaded, “fixed up” and then printed out.

Fast forward to the future of scanning and now we have apps like “TurboScan.”

So, here is the scoop.  We can now take pictures, crop them to the size of the page and link them all together to be saved as one PDF file. That alone is worth the price of admission in my mind ($2.99).

Turboscan logo

TurboScan by Piksoft Inc.


Got your attention? Wait a minute…

The one problem that I find is that there is a gap between those that are comfortable with all the new technology and those that are not quite as warm and fuzzy about it. If you land on the 2nd side, then here’s the step-by-step on how to TurboScan while documenting your family research:

  1. Obviously, you will need to first purchase the app from the iTunes store or grab it at the Google Store for Androids. Download it, then open the app and you have a perfectly blank screen with three options: Camera, SureScan-3x and Album.


Click on Camera and hover your phone’s camera over the page that you would like to copy.  If it looks good, go ahead and click on the large circle on the screen to take the picture.  Tips: find the best light in the room that you are in. If you have natural light, then get close enough to pick up the light without being in the sunbeam (My cat loves our front window’s bright sunlight but pictures don’t do as well!)

  1. Your picture will show up on the phone’s screen and is now covered up by a frame adjuster. Take your finger and move the corner circle tabs to fit the outside edges of the page you just copied. Once done, click on the Done button. This will make your copy nice and neat without getting a picture of the table in the background. IMG_6255 Now you have some decisions to make. Your picture shows up in black-and-white mode and by touching the different shaded boxes at the bottom of the screen, you will adjust the contrast. If you really want to keep the color, then it is a click away (bottom, right “photo” tab.) The arching arrows are there to rotate the picture. Once you have it to your liking, click on Done (top right.)IMG_6256
  2. Are we done yet? No way. Let’s do a 2nd page and because you know that you have to have the title page whenever you get a picture of a document. Go ahead , look for the little page on the bottom right with a plus-sign and click on it. You are now ready to take a 2nd scan of another page. [Tip: Always get that copy of the title page of the document you are copying. That piece of documentation is only good if you can re-create it when needed or prove that it once existed. If the year the book was published is not included on the title page, then you will want to get a scan of the page that includes the publishing information as well.]IMG_6257
  3. Yay! You now have two pages that will become one PDF document. Just follow the instructions above for cropping the picture and changing the contrast if needed. Once you take the picture, you will notice that your screen now shows two preview pages. The little red circles on the left are there for easy deleting. Just tap on one and it will allow you to click on Delete to quickly take away an unwanted photo.IMG_6262
  4. Once you are at the screen that shows the multiple photos, click on one and it will take you into a zoom mode. Take a second to zoom in really close to make sure that the text is clear. There is nothing worse than getting home and finding out that your scan is blurry! That is frustrating especially if you have traveled several hours to get to that repository. (Just in case you are not sure how to zoom in, go ahead and touch the screen in the middle with your thumb and forefinger and then open them while still touching the screen. Kind of like flicking something at your sibling!)
  5. For filing purposes, it’s all in the name. Go ahead and name your file while it is fresh in your mind. It’s that little pen at the bottom of the screen. You can add the name and change the size of the document if you want.IMG_6263
  6. Now, here’s where the magic takes place. At the bottom of the screen on the bottom left, you will see the little half box with an up-facing arrow. Click on that arrow and you get options!IMG_6264
  7. In order to “email to myself” you will need to set up yourself in the settings. At the original screen, there is a cog-wheel and that will take you to the settings area where you can add your email.
  8. Once you have your email added, you can now “email to yourself.” If you are copying pages of documents, then it emails the files as PDF’s to you.  Sending a picture? JPEG.
  9. Remember the beginning and one of the options is “SureScan 3x?” This allows you to take 3 pictures at differing settings and combining them to get the best image. I think that the regular picture is pretty good but this is something to experiment with. Don’t worry about getting the picture exactly the same; it seems to allow for movement of the camera and work with the information that it receives to bring you the best image.IMG_6265
  10. Of course you can save your file to your camera roll, but if you think about it, sending it to your email makes a lot of sense since it doesn’t take up important space on your phone and it can be retrieved later via any computer that you would like to open your email in. It can also be shared easily with other family members! Once you are satisfied that you have sent it to your email, then feel free to delete. If you touch the document file that you have just made and emailed to yourself, then you will see the little trash can that will take your image off to never-never land. Remember that this will save space on your phone for all those important photos of family and friends!

I’m hoping this helps. While I love all the new technology, it is moving as such a fast pace and can become very intimidating very fast. For some of you, this is making it way too basic but I know that there might be just a few that will appreciate these steps to be written down!

As always, feel free to contact me with any particular questions that you might have about genealogy research in general and I will try to work them into future posts!

You think you have heard it all?

Subject: Indiana State Library – Indiana Collection

The Indiana State Library is very near and dear to my heart.  As the genealogist for The Society of Indiana Pioneers, we are fortunate enough to have our office located within the Genealogy Section of the ISL on the first floor. As I said last week, I am so lucky to be able to have access to all the books,  computer databases, family and county files whenever I need them.


In this article, I would like to cover some of the things that lure me up to the second floor of the State Library almost every time I go.

My top 5 reasons to visit just the Indiana Collections Section (2nd floor) of the Indiana State Library are:

  1. Newspapers on microfilm by county
  2. County Records (Marriage, Probate, and Land Records) on microfilm
  3. County Histories
  4. City Directories
  5. Biography Index


Newspapers on microfilm

Newspapers are the window into the world that our ancestors lived in and are an incredible resource to us as family history researchers. The first thing that I think all researchers think of when it comes to newspapers are the obituaries, death notices and marriage articles. This is a pretty strong enough reason, but as you look for those obituaries, take a minute to read some of the articles or sections on the township that your relative lived in and the headlines for the day to get a flavor for what was going on in the area!


Where do you get started? You need to know what county and hopefully what city your ancestor lived in so that you can check to see what is available. You can click on THIS (and scroll down) to go to the index of newspapers that the ISL has by each county. It is worth the time to look at the index since it will quickly tell you if the library has the date(s) that you need.  If there wasn’t a newspaper in your ancestor’s particular town, then I would go to the county newspaper or the newspaper where the county seat is located.


Here’s a tip: Always start with the day that your ancestor passed away if you know it. Some newspapers took information up until they printed the paper and might have added a death if it occurred early in the day. Then I keep checking for several days after the death date when looking for the obituary. There are times that it might take a week to show up. You will want to also look at the township “chatter” sections because they might give you some information concerning the death or family that came into town visiting, etc.


The microfilm readers are a little tricky to get used to so don’t hesitate to ask one of the very helpful librarians to get you started. I have my favorite ones to use which is pretty common! As far as retrieving a copy, you have several options as well. They do have local printers and you pay on the honor system to the librarian when you are done. You are allowed to bring USB drives and plug them into the computers to save your images to take home with you and they can also be emailed as well. Of course, you can also do like I do and take pics with my camera. I like the ease of being able to take the image back with me and not fuss with any of the computers at the library. Just the microfilm machine and me… Again, it all gets back to what you are comfortable with so don’t hesitate to try different things while you are there to see what fits best for you.

2County Records on Microfilm

My next favorite section is the County records on microfilm and I do spend a lot of time in this area. You can find an index of what all is available HERE. When I am looking for a document that ties generations together, I always head to the Wills, Probate  and Estate Records first. It helps to have a general idea of when your ancestor passed away so you can narrow down your research time-frame. As you can see by the picture, each county record is clearly labeled by county and then by section such as wills or marriages.


One tip: The drawers in these types of cabinets can be a bit finicky so you need to make sure that all the drawers are shut in order to open one up. There are times that I will find a drawer with just a little bit open and it will keep the rest of the file drawers from opening. Sounds silly but you wait until you are standing there desperately trying to get a drawer open and you’ll thank me for this tip!


Indexes are the key to microfilmed records. The WPA Marriage books by county can lead you to the Volume number and page to locate a marriage record. Just a reminder that these are not the fancy marriage records that you might find framed on a wall, but they are the records that are made at the county recorder’s office. Just the facts, thank you!


You will quickly see that there might be more than one volume (or copied book) listed on the microfilm. I find that if I need to go to the 2nd or 3rd volume that I can do a quick fast-forward and watch the screen for a black space to come up.  It doesn’t last long, so you definitely have to keep your eyes focused (or slightly unfocused but still gazing towards the screen.) I say unfocused since I get a little dizzy watching the screen whirl by me too fast – but that is just me! If I need to go to the third volume on a microfilm, then I will watch for the 3rd black space and quickly stop. It usually takes just a quick adjustment to check the label and make sure that I have reached the correct volume.


For the most part, you will find indexes in the front of the microfilm section but I have also found them at the back. There are also volumes that are simply indexes. Sometimes they cover many decades and you will have to just move through the microfilm until you reach the alphabet letter you are looking for. Each indexing system can be a little different and can range from simply all the “A’s” listed on one page, etc. to a more complicated system.


I might also suggest that you check down in the county section of the Genealogy Library on the first floor to see if there are any marriage, land or will indexes already printed. That is a huge help. I do recommend that you go ahead and get the a copy of the original though, because the transcribed or indexed information is only as good as the transcriber! As they used to say in my computer courses in college – “Garbage in, Garbage out!”


Indianapolis Newspaper Index

There is really so much to say about all the sections, that it would take a short booklet to cover it all. The Indianapolis Newspaper Index can be found in the “old-fashioned” catalog cabinets that is located right by the librarian’s desk near the microfilm. If you have any Indianapolis ancestors or ancestors that might have been written up in Indianapolis newspapers, it would be worth a look. You can find an online index HERE as well, but if you are in the library, I suggest actually letting your fingers do the walking! When I use these card files,  I think of dedicated librarians laboriously typing up each card noting a name and the newspaper information such as date, page, and brief description. Some of the cards were actually typed up by the WPA workers.  But the sheer dedication to the task at hand is quite unfathomable to me, someone used to using NewspaperArchive and OCR scanning. But as of this time, these particular Indinapolis newspapers have not all been digitized for OCR so this is a resource that I always hope that I can have an excuse to use!

Then you can simply head over to the Indianapolis newspapers on microfilm and easily locate the article you found. Oh, I love indexes!


Indiana Biographies

There are also indexed card files for Indiana Biographies located on the 1st floor on the east side of the library in the Grand Hall pretty much by itself. You will know you are in the right place because of the stained-glass. You can find them online HERE but it is fun to actually sift through the cards! Once you have located the book title, write down all the information and take it to the librarian at by the top of the 2nd floor stairs. They are located by the north facing windows and are more than happy to retrieve the book that you have located. These books are located in closed stacks so a librarian will need to retrieve them for you.


City Directories

And don’t forget the City Directories and County Histories that are also available on the 2nd floor. Being able to locate your ancestor in a city directory can help to zoom in on when an ancestor passed away or or where they lived and what their occupations were from year to year. You can find the listing by county HERE.


County Histories

The County histories are so very interesting once you understand that the biographies that they sometimes hold were given by family members that paid to have their own biography printed. So, when a lineage society suggests that you can’t always use a county history for proof, you really can’t fault them. Many times I have found that a family member gave faulty information either by mistake or on purpose to bolster their family’s history a bit! But, they are invaluable since sometimes the history was taken during the lifetime of the pioneer ancestor and this means that most, if not all of the information, is pretty close to the truth. Once you have a biography found in a county history, then backing it up with extra documentation to bolster it just might be enough to make a circumstantial case. Never give up! You can find a directory of available County Histories HERE.


Whew… I am exhausted from these two articles on the Indiana State Library. While you might not have ancestors that came from our state, it is good to know that if our state library carries information on other states, then most likely other state libraries will be very similar.  I haven’t even touched on the Manuscripts and Rare Books area along with so many more great places to do some family history hunting! Take some time and browse around the ISL website. Make yourself at home! I certainly hope that it makes you think that if you haven’t crossed the threshold of a library lately, either local or state, that it might be a good time for a roadtrip!

Good hunting!

Surprises in Unexpected Places

Subject: Indiana State Library Genealogy Section

The Indiana State Library Genealogy Section is located on the first floor of the library. Step on in and near the back you will find the Family History Books by sorted by surname.

The Indiana State Library Genealogy Section is located on the first floor of the library. Step on in and near the back you will find the Family History Books sorted by surname.

Oh, woe is the family history researcher that doesn’t check out all their local resources.

I know that I believe heavily in maximizing what is available through digital resources but hold your horses if you think that I would recommend not hitting our local and state libraries to supplement our research!

Many treasures can be found and it is well worth the trip from wherever you might live to visit your own state library. As an example, let’s take a look at my home state of Indiana to see what gems are available to me and you – all free!

The Indiana State Library (ISL ), which has been in existence since 1825, is one of those treasures that makes you scratch your head in amazement that it wasn’t at the top of your must-visit list.

Here are the top 10 reasons to visit just the Genealogy Section of  your Indiana State Library:

  1. County Records – books
  2. Family History Books
  3. Family Files (loose papers)
  4. County Files (loose papers)
  5. Maps
  6. Feeder State Books and more
  7. Lineage Society Books – DAR, SAR, etc.
  8. Military Books – Revolutionary, Civil War, etc.
  9. P.A. (Works Project Administration) Indexes for 68 of 92 Counties
  10. Database access – Ancestry Library Edition, NewspaperArchive, etc.

I am pretty sure that I have left out even more, but these are the top ones on my radar! Can I get most of these online? Some of these items can definitely be found online with a little digging.

And yes, this is just in the Genealogy Section of the ISL! I’m not even touching on the rest of the massive amount of materials that are available to all of us. Can I say free too many times? You can check out ALL the offerings here.

So, let’s take a look at what makes a few of the sections that I mention above so valuable.

Family History Books

This is the goal of everyone doing their family history research – to get to a point that you can put your own valuable documentation into a book form for others to look at and share. I’m certainly not the first person to gently nudge researchers to do this! And at the ISL Genealogy Section, they have been accumulating family history books for a long time.

As patrons or family members of Indiana families have their own family histories published, many are submitted to be added to the library’s genealogy collection. I have had several clients that have added their own books to the ISL collection for future generations and to be certain that their work will be maintained for many more generations to come. You never know what you might find in these books.

I have located several of my own family lines and it is amazing to read some of the stories that were passed down – but to a different side of the family. If I had not found that particular book, I might have never known about some of the stories that have brought my own family history to life!

3County Records – Books

Each county section is an area that is filled with books that pertain to that particular county (as you would expect, right?) These books can range from cemetery listings to newspaper extracts to will extracts and the list of items just keeps going. You can get a listing of each county and what books are available by going here.

Before hitting the microfilm to look for probate and land records, it is always a good thing to check to see if there are any books on those topics within the county. There have been quite a few hardy soles that have already gone through all the above-mentioned records (either in person or via microfilm) and possibly made indexes. Some probate record books include citations —think names listed in the wills.

If you have ever looked at county microfilm records, they contain filmed copies of the original documents. Some include indexes and some do not. Being able to look at an index that might span several microfilm containers would save you a lot of time. Yes! I’m all for that!


4Family and County Files

At the ISL, there are many filing cabinets filled with loose papers that have been submitted over the years by patrons that might not have published an entire book but wanted to leave a copy of some document that they have in their possession that they feel might help other researchers. This section is broke down into family surnames and counties. You can’t really read it well, but in my picture, I was looking for the Julian family folder. I could easily look at the Fulton County folder as well to see what might be available. Of course, you can let your fingers do some walking as well by searching the catalog. Anything that shows up as “uncat” will be found in these file cabinets.  This is a great reason to contact public and state libraries directly in the area you might be researching because they might have a family file on your ancestor!

Feeder State Books

Oh, this is where it gets really good! Before I became the genealogist for The Society of Indiana Pioneers, I made many a trip up the Allen County Public Library (which is the largest genealogy public library in the U.S.)

I LOVE that library! In fact, it is hard to not sing their praises and those of Curt Witcher who is the voice of the library and Senior Manager of Special Collections. I forget how many books come into the genealogy section of the ACPL every day, but it is mind-blowing when you hear the number.

Once I took on the genealogist’s role within the Society of Indiana Pioneers, I quickly became aware of what was all available right there at the Indiana State Library. You see, our office is located within the Genealogy Section of the state library on the first floor.  So, don’t feel bad if you didn’t know what all was contained inside the state library. I didn’t either!

Ok, everyone would guess that the Indiana State Library Genealogy section would contain county records and books, which is does, but just think about all the feeder states that pioneers came from to get to Indiana in the earlier days of our state and country. The ISL has a reputable amount of books from these states as well. I really shouldn’t even say “reputable” since it gives the illusion that there are only a small amount of books from these feeder states. I have personally done research in New Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio to name a few. I’m just saying… if you want a one-stop place for research, you need to make the trip to both public and state libraries!

2WPA Indexes

This is a wonderful example of public funds going to project that has lasted for almost 100 years and will continue to be valuable to researchers for many more to come.  A great articleby PBS on the Works Project Administration can be found here. For Indiana, it meant that each county was given  the ability to choose how their allotted funds would be spent.  Sixty-eight of the ninety-two counties in Indiana chose to use their funds for transcribing marriage, birth and death records within the county from 1882 – 1920. Marriage records date as far back as 1850.

The counties that did not use their funds for these indexed records include Blackford, Brown, Crawford, Dearborn, Decatur, DuBois, Fayette, Grant, Jefferson, Jennings, Lawrence, Marshall, Noble, Ohio, Porter, Randolph, Ripley, Rush, Scott, Steuben, Switzerland, Tipton, Union, Wabash, and Whitley.

What can you find in one of these books? Well, as an index, it gives name and/or sex of the child born and the parents listed as well as the birthdate. The book number and page can also be located. If you would like to request a birth certificate for a relative, you can give this information to help retrieve the document.  They are a great first place to look for any Indiana researcher lucky enough to have an index for the county they are researching. With the marriage record information, it is a quick hop upstairs to the microfilm section at the Indiana State Library where you can quickly locate the marriage record you have been looking for!


I covered a brief description of how to use the Ancestry Library Edition in my article titled, Genealogy Research ONLINE at your Public Library. What I didn’t cover is that each library has their own subscriptions to different databases. For example, at my local library, they have a subscription to Ancestry Library Edition, Heritage Quest, and Fold3. At the Indiana State Library, not only do they include those three databases, but there is a long list of others that you can access while at the library. Check them out here.

Oh, I know… this has been a long article, and the funny thing is that it is only about the Genealogy Section of the Indiana State Library. It doesn’t include all the other collections that are available. I’ll hit on those at another date.

Some might think that the entire Genealogy Section of the Indiana State Library could be found on some online genealogy site like Ancestry.com but you would be very short-sighted to make a statement like this!

I would love to hear stories of treasures that you have uncovered while at a local or state public library!