February 28th, 2011 at 2:47 pm (Articles)
Every year I stop and realize it is time to organize. You may have a great system already, but if not, take the time and organize your files. Everyone has their own idea of how they want to house their information. For me, I use three ring binders and large filing cabinets. Needless to say the genealogy has grown through the years and it definitely takes up a bit of space.
In this day and age we have the option of keeping files the standard way by using the paper trail or we now have the ability to digitize our collection. Each works well. They both have their own pluses and minuses. Paper allows you to always have the hard copy of the information you have compiled. The draw back is it takes up a lot of space. Digital is a space saver and allows ease when sharing by email or online. The draw back is if you do not backup your work or burn discs, you may loose your files. The choice is yours.
Files-File folders are invaluable. Try to use archival safe folders only. By separating sir names, locations, family groups, etc. your task will be much simpler. As you create each file, mark it clearly with a dark marker. Next alphabetize the folders as you put them in the file cabinet or boxes you place to store your information in. If you start with archival safe supplies you will not have to worry as time goes by. At times I have written important notes on the front of each folder. This may help later to clarify which files is which for persons with similar names or confusing records.
Photos-I highly recommend that you use a good quality scanner for preserving and sharing your family photos. As you gather photos be sure to label them as to who they are, any dates and places that you may know, as well as any special notes that you might need for later use. If you are writing directly on the photo only use a specified marker for photos. If ink is used it may release acids later that will deteriorate your photos. If this was done prior to your use, visit an archival store. Several are online and they may have helpful hints as to a product that may lessen the damage. It is best to tag the photo by scanning the item and creating a digital copy. Always keep photos out of sunlight and heat. Special archival boxes and clear sleeves are available at most office supply stores.
Contacts-It is important to keep a list, rolodex, or spreadsheet of the contact you have made while doing your research. Many times you will find the need to contact the persons later in time. It is also helpful to list below the contact, their information, the date of contact and what they were contacted for.
Resources-Listing of resources may help you in the future. Many times we forget where the information was found or how we can across it. This will be a handy tool as your work progresses. Resource sheet can be kept with each file or as a file itself.
Workspace-Needless to say, if a dedicated workspace is available use it. Genealogy is so much easier if you have an area that your files can be left and not moved in and out constantly. You may not have this privilege, so you may have to work around it. A large table and a comfortable chair will make your long hours of research easier on the body.
Computers and Internet-When ever possible a computer is essential. If you don’t own one, your local library will usually provide access to a public computer. Internet access will allow you to use multitudes of resources. The Sweetwater County Library website has a Genealogy Page for your use. Listed are information and sites to help you with research.
Blank Forms-Many times you will find it most helpful to keep blank masters of all the forms you use on a regular basis. This may include census forms, family group sheets, pedigree sheets, etc. When working on Census Records you may find they are very hard to read. I always keep a blank of each record and pencil in what I find. Usually I am viewing it online and can enlarge the copy to make it more legible. Just copy down the pertinent information on the blank form and attach it to a print-out of the original report.
These are just a few ideas that may help you with your organizing. If you have a great tip that you would like to share please let me know.