Like every other genealogist on the planet I find myself overwhelmed by the piles and piles of paper and information generated during family history research. One of my goals for this year is to get my research organized. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of printing duplicate records and wasting time following an ancestor trail only to realize that I’ve already performed that search once.
I don’t really have room for a filing cabinet but I found some cute, cheap file boxes that seem pretty sturdy and will hold quite a few hanging file folders. I labeled one with my grandparents’ surnames and then settled on a filing system. The one that seems to work the best for me and is the easiest to stick to is to make a file for each couple. Since I place both of my grandparent’s ancestors in one file box at this time, I use a red sharpie to label my grandfather’s lines and a green sharpie to label my grandmother’s lines.
On the folder label I write the husband’s name and then the wife’s name right below it, with last names capitalized. I also include the couple’s ID#’s which correspond to their numbers on my pedigree charts. Children are written in birth order on the front of the file folder. The family group sheet is placed in the folder along with any printed source material I may have for that couple. Information for the children of each couple that are not my direct ancestors are placed in a separate folder and filed behind the couple in the same hanging folder.
Now that I have a basic filing system in place I can simply pick a person or couple to work on and get all of the documentation and notes I have organized into one place. I can see what information I have and what I’m missing by writing up a summary on my new on-line research log/blog. I think keeping an on-line research log will have several benefits. I do hope to publish a written genealogy someday for my family members and it won’t seem too overwhelming because I will already have lots of little pieces of information about my ancestors written on my blog. Also, by posting on-line hopefully some long-lost cousins will come across a familiar name and together we can breach one of those nasty brick walls we all face in genealogy.
I have my plan of action now! By the time genealogy season is in full swing (= winter for me) I’ll be a lean, mean, family-history researching machine!