If “Getting Organized” is at the top your TTBD List for 2010, you might want to visit Elyse’s Genealogy Blog where Elyse is posting a series of How To articles on getting your genealogy papers in order, appropriately titled “Organizing the Paper Mountain.” Elyse really has her act together as far as controlling genealogical chaos, and she makes some good points about how to file rather than pile.
I have to admit that one of the sessions I planned to attend this weekend at the Family History Expo in Mesa, Arizona was the Getting Organized session by Dear Myrtle. Alas, both Ole’ Myrt and I were both rained out of attending the Expo — she was sidelined by snow in Flagstaff, and I was washed out by rain in California.
Meanwhile, I think Elyse is doing a great job with some very soul-searching questions. Surnames or Subjects? Binders or Files? Office Supply or Archival? All important questions to ask yourself as you embark on the task of Getting Organized.
I hope I am not alone in party-hopping from one style to another over the years. I’ve tried file folders and found them drifting all over the house. I’ve tried binders and been frustrated by oversize and original heirloom source documents. I’ve tried archival supplies and nearly gone broke. My present system is a combination of all three, and thus far, it works for me.
I like to think of my genealogy research in terms of families. I tried filing by Marriage Record Number (suggested by Legacy) but could never remember the numbers I was working with. It also bugged me that three generations of the same family with the same surname were scattered numerically in my files, whether I used file folders or a binder. I like to take the papers and talk about them with my mom, and it just makes more sense if we handle the files more like a notebook scrapbook than an office filing system with folders in drawers.
The problem with using binders became apparent right away, however, when I came to Grandma Arline’s marriage certificates. These were printed documents filled in by hand in ink. They were too large for the binder and also rather fragile. What to do? Preserve first, is my motto, and the filing system I have adapted accomodates heirloom originals and modern day print outs or photocopies equally well.
More on Organizing and Preserving in my next post.