Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How To Capture Tables of Information From the Web-And Why Would You Want To?

As you do research online, there are times when you want to capture tables of information to use in the future, sort and analyze, or use as a checklist to make sure you explore all of those records.

I use Mozilla Firefox as my primary browser, so this method works with that browser.  If you haven't tried Mozilla, you can download it for free from:  www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/ .

There is an add on called Table2Clipboard that can capture table information so you can paste it into other software on your desktop [I usually use Microsoft Excel] without losing formatting and links.  The add on is free, but the author does appreciate donations to support their work.  I cannot guarantee that this add on works on every computer, but I have personally used it with Windows XP and Windows 7 without any problems.  I have used it to capture tables from sites like Ancestry (search results), cemetery transcriptions, etc.  Please be sure to respect copyright rules and provide recognition and citations for any data you acquire using this method.

Example of Use in the Homer NY One Place Study

I am currently adding vital statistic information to individuals in the pioneer database, as well as new people, and their relationships to spouses and children through the transcribed records of the Atwater and Glenwood cemeteries (all sourced with recognition to these web sites and their awesome volunteers).  I have had to make some assumptions with this data, which I have recorded on the web site and will probably discuss in this blog at a later date.

Using Table2Clipboard I copied the cemetery transcriptions into Excel spreadsheets - you could use other products - there are some good free spreadsheet applications available.  Since I use Excel for work, it is my program of choice for home as well.  It is possible to import some lists of information into your database, but I am not going that route for this data.  I put the cemetery transcription up on one side of my laptop screen and my Legacy database on the other side, with some overlap.  I can scan the index of people in my database and compare them to individuals listed in the cemetery transcription to find possible matches.  I manually add information into the database, sourcing each detail as I go, and I can copy and paste the exact transcription text into my source detail.  I then mark the records I complete in an extra column I add into the cemetery transcription spreadsheet, and use color codes to indicate individuals I am not putting into the database right now - for example, individuals who are born after 1890 or infants who can't be tied to parents yet. 

Having these tables of information available on my computer allow me to use this information in ways I couldn't if I was accessing them only online.  If you have other means of transferring information from the web into usable tables, please share.

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