Organization – Not Sure There’s a Better Way

Over the past few months, I’ve read several posts about getting organized and considered participating in the ‘boot camp’ on organization. Most posts refers to color coding and notebooks. Unfortunately, I can’t bend my mind around how to make my ‘stuff’ fit into those systems. Thus I’ve hesitated to do the boot-camp. By taking time to ‘consider’ I missed the ‘boot camp’.

One of the reasons behind my taking time to ‘consider’ is that I haven’t seen any recommended methods that better fits my research:

  • 37 years of research – most in paper
  • Lots of cluster research — in at least one case following the neighbor for 3 generations
  • Collateral research — often following descendants for at least 2 or 3 generations
  • ‘One surname’ study for specific area / time period

A lot of the recommendations regarding organization refer to ‘notebooks’. That is how I started and much of my original research is still in those notebooks. However, using the notebooks became problematic when the photocopy covered lots of different people. I simply couldn’t figure out where to put the copy. It was also hard to figure out how to place all of my cluster research in the notebooks let alone the research involving ‘one-name’ in early Kentucky.

Thus, when I met William Dollarhide, I adopted a system similar to one he recommended for filing paper. In this system, each document is assigned a ‘unique number’ composed of three parts:

  • Surname
  • State Abbreviation (so far all of my research is in the United States)
  • Number — sequential based on when acquired

Thus, I have a document assigned the following ‘number’: Crawford.KS.024. Based on that ‘number’, I know where to find it in my files. I’ve incorporated that number into the documentation for the event in my genealogy software. I’m also incorporating the number into the file name when the document is scanned.

If the goal of getting ‘organized’ is the ability to find the document, then my system seems to work. I just need to remember to continue to include the ‘number’ as part of the source documentation.


Winter Storm Goliath — Establishes 2016 Goal

The winter storm Goliath lived up to its name. It has caused widespread destruction from tornadoes and flooding. While watching news feeds and praying for those affected, the images are a vivid reminder of what can quickly be taken away.

Even though I plan to continue learning by participating in the 2016 Genealogy Do-Over and the Finally Get Organized projects, my primary focus for the year will be to continue working to get all of my genealogy ‘stuff’ preserved.

I’ve already ‘preserved’ the results of my research by publishing my tree online. A basic version of my tree is on Ancestry as HeartlandGenealogy_Oct2015, while a more detailed version complete with footnotes is available at my Heartland Genealogy site.

However, the photos and documents that support that tree aren’t online. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those documents are stored in my filing cabinets and in photo albums and memory books. Thus, my primary goal for 2016 is to

  • digitize all of that paper

As I proceed thru the digitization process, I plan to continue finding ways to share my data so that the family photos and documents and the sources behind my research are not lost.

Thank You and a Look Backward

About six months ago, I re-connected with my hobby of genealogy thanks to Thomas McEntee and his ‘Genealogy Do-Over‘ project. This do-over project came at a time when I was also slowly beginning to digitize my work thanks to the encouragement of a blog post by Dick Eastman (similar but newer post on going paperless). This is proving to be a daunting task. As I go back thru my files, I am very thankful for the influence of others on my genealogy journey.

First for my grandmother, Winnie Currey Crawford, for starting me on this quest. (Grandma, I apologize in that I still haven’t found your grandmother’s grave.) Both of my grandmothers (Pauline Mentzer Briles and Winnie Crawford)  provided me with lots of information, stories and most importantly, pictures. For that, I am very grateful.

Second, to my mother-in-law, JoAnne Strohmeier Philbrick Miller for showing me how to use a pedigree chart and family group sheets. I would also like to thank JoAnne for introducing me to ‘scholarly’ genealogy by encouraging me to read Val Greenwood’s book, The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy.

Third, to my husband, Michael Philbrick and my family. My husband and parents willingly indulged me with a research trip to Salt Lake City on a vacation to the Tetons. It was during this trip that I attended a workshop on research and purchased my first software package, Personal Ancestral File (PAF). My husband has been very supportive of this hobby over the years and continues to be willing to adjust those travel plans to allow for visits to courthouses, libraries and cemeteries.

Thru the years, there have been countless people and organizations that have impacted my research. Below are the ones that have had the most memorable impact.

  • Topeka Genealogical Society and Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies for providing opportunities for me to grow in my knowledge of how to research
  • Ruth Keys Clark and the Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies for providing research trips to Salt Lake City
  • Bob Velke for his work on the software program, The Master Genealogist (TMG)
  • John Cardinal for developing Second Site software to easily publish my research on the web
  • The TMG community for encouraging the documentation of any/all life events and developing ways to record that information within the software.
  • The TMG-Refugee community for providing guidance on how to migrate data from TMG to a new software package
  • For all those researchers willing to share information and more importantly research tasks over the years. Mickey Briles Barby and Sandy Kuchenreuther stand out because of the quantity of letters and emails we exchanged in trying to document the Briles and Currey families. I still vividly remember trying to help Sandy locate a Currey family in Oregon because a newspaper article placed them in Oregon, only to discover the family living about 100 miles from me — in Oregon, Missouri.