This article was written for my local genealogy society newsletter. You are welcome to use it in your own society online or print publication; please credit www.TheFamilyCurator.com.
Genealogists may not see eye to eye on the Perfect Organizational System for data and sources, but they will certainly agree that they would rather spend time finding ancestors than filing papers. The challenge is to create a system that suits the personality and habits of the user and is easy to create and maintain.
Here are four systems worth investigating –
Organize Your Paper Files http://www.fileyourpapers.com/
Genealogical Research Associates recommends using a straightforward numerical system based on Marriage Record Numbers in conjunction with your genealogy database software program. An illustrated tutorial provides step-by-step instructions for setting up and filing papers.
Finally, Get Organized http://blog.dearmyrtle.com/2009/01/finally-get-organized-jan-2009.html
Dear Myrtle (speaker and podcaster Pat Richley) describes her system of 3-ring notebooks in the first monthly installment of the series “Finally, Get Organized: January 2009 Checklist.” The monthly PDF checklists highlight different aspects of genealogy work, from organizing files to time management. Find the organizing blog posts by typing “checklist” in the “Search This Blog” search box.
Organizing Your Files https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Organizing_Your_Files
Folders, binders, and overall concepts are all discussed in a comprehensive article on the FamilySearch Wiki. Beginning with a discussion of the value of organizing your files, through organizing principles, setting up a system, maintaining your files, and using document numbers for filing, this article lays a good foundation for any genealogy filing system.
How I Organize My Genealogy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrWf6VmKVCs&feature=related
Elyse Doerflinger is a college student and experienced genealogy blogger and speaker. She has recorded a series of YouTube videos featuring step-by-step instructions for setting up a genealogy filing system and staying on top of the paper piles. Browse videos by Elyse90505 for more simple, effective filing tips.
If you haven’t found The Perfect System yet, don’t despair; keep looking and asking questions. And, as you investigate all the many possibilities, use a simple system that helps you stay in control of your research so you can spend your time finding – instead of filing – your ancestors.
Ten Tips for Organizing Genealogy Research
- Sheet Control – Use standard 8 ½ x 11-inch paper for all notes and printouts.
- Stay Single – One surname, one locality per sheet for easy filing.
- No Repeats – Avoid errors; write legibly the first time.
- Dating Yourself – Always write the current date on your research notes.
- Be Color Clever – Distinguish family lines with different colored folders, binders, tabs.
- File First – File one research trip or effort before starting the next one.
- Ask Directions – Write your own filing instructions; a big help when you take a long break.
- Supply Closet – Keep a stash of folders, plastic sleeves, tabs, printer ink.
- One File at a Time – Work through paper piles steadily; the mess didn’t happen in one day.
- KISS – Keep It Simple, Silly! Use an easy to set up, easy to maintain system.