And why they work for me!
A while back I started using Evernote not just for personal stuff like recipes, lists, and web clipping but for my history research. As I was developing my system of note cards and filing, my husband asked me why I don’t use Evernote tags to organize stuff. I hadn’t used tags before. In my Evernote world, I just named the notebook and filed all the notes related to that subject in it.
But once I launched into more history research, specifically my card file, I have related notes that aren’t the same subject in different notebooks. And with tags I could search and find all the related note cards at once.
Part of being a historian is collecting random facts about people, places and things from multiple sources over many years of research and study. Then weaving (or knitting) those facts into a bigger tapestry of historical context. In my research I started with Katherine Carson Breckinridge and then branched out from her to other family members, places she visited, and events she experienced. Most recently I’ve been searching for information about other plantation owners and their families in Carroll Parish before and during the Civil War and the migration of many Carson neighbors to the Tyler, Texas area to escape the advancing Union forces. After scanning my note cards into Evernote, I tag them so that hopefully I can find all the information about other plantation families the Carsons might have socialized with or information from other primary sources about the migration to Texas.
Tags in Evernote help me piece it all together. For example two of my favorite tags are Newspapers or T2LookFor: Newspapers*. I have the hardest time remembering the names of the newspapers that KCB or her family or her friends used/read. Some papers were only around for a short amount of time (like the Elton Eagle) and most aren’t in print anymore. But by creating the tags Newspapers and T2LookFor: Newspapers, I can quickly reference those notes when I’m researching other areas.
Other tags I’m particularly fond of are T2LookFor: Other Americans, Possible Carson neighbors Carroll Parish, and Tyler, Texas. Other Americans is all about other Americans or westerners who attended the wedding and/or coronation of Nicholas and Alexandra. Over the past year, I’ve discovered a number of self published memoirs, journals, or letters from other Americans (i.e. Katie Koon Bovey) and other westerners who attended the coronation. Taking their accounts, along with KCB’s, gives me a fuller picture of what really happened at the wedding/coronation or confirms KCB’s experience.
Possible Carson Neighbors Carroll Parish is just that – names of families who owned plantations near Airlie in Carroll Parish, Louisiana. If I can build a picture of the neighbors and I can locate letters, memoirs, and journals written by their neighbors, then I’ll have a better idea of how KCB and her family stack up against those around them. Were the Carsons the Jones of the plantation set in northeastern Louisiana or were they square in the median for land, property and slaves? What did their neighbors think about them? What outside the family opinions have survived? All these things are important to historians.
And finally the mystery of Tyler, Texas. As well as the journey to and from, the Carsons escaped the advancing Federal troops in 1863 and returned to Carroll Parish by 1868. This puts their time in Tyler, Texas in-between Federal Censuses and other more traditional sources. So grouping all the tidbits about Tyler, Texas in the 1860s by using one tag will help me find what I need to find when I need to find it.
So my husband was right for once…. Evernote tags are awesome!!!
*T2LookFor = Things to look for