Organization

Have you been following all of the Facebook posts about organizing and tracking your genealogy research? If you haven’t then you might want to check out some of these posts:

If you haven’t joined these or other genealogy groups on Facebook, then you are missing out on a lot of help!

Because of the recent discussions around organizing one’s genealogy, I thought I’d share what I’ve found useful. Since my genealogy adventure began prior to the Internet, I started with a lot of paper. Thus, I had to have a way to organize it so I could go back and find my notes. As Drew Smith has suggested, I used the SURNAME as my first level of organization. Because I had too much information to fit in one folder for the SURNAME, I subdivided my notes. Below is an example of how those folders were named for one of my surnames:

  • Crawford
  • Crawford – Letters
  • Crawford – Census
  • Crawford – Kansas
  • Crawford – Indiana
  • Crawford – Ohio
  • Crawford – Kentucky
  • Crawford – Virginia

As my research has broadened to include the siblings and others of the Surname living in the area, I started adding sub-folders for those individuals. At first, I was just using the person’s name for the folder. However, the computer would sort those folder alphabetically. Growing frustrated with the alphabetical arrangement, I changed the way I named the folders to put the year of the person’s birth first. Thus, the folders get arranged chronologically.

I have applied the same concept to my file names. When I find a record for an individual, I start the file name with the date of the document, followed by brief sourcing info and end with the name(s) associated with the document. 

It took me a while to develop this organization method and naming pattern. And, my system is far from perfect, but it works for me.