Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Good Day to Start Organizing, p. 2

Keeping your materials organized is an ongoing process because you are always finding something new.  When I come across material that I need or want to keep, I first record and cite the data in my genealogy software, then put the printed material in the "File Pile", next to my laptop.  Because I tend to focus on an individual family group for a period, I've found it helpful to keep recently used documents close at hand; you never know when you need to quickly recheck something.  Then, every few weeks, I catch up on my filing or scanning.  Filing is also a good break when I seem to be running into a brick wall, getting nowhere in my research.

Earlier this year, I sent several afternoons going through my files, looking at what I had, and considering ways to better know what was there.  I did a Google search for free genealogy forms and found several that might me a clearer picture of what I had.  Bailey's Free Genealogy Forms had a number of download forms including a Research Log titled "Research Record Sheet" that was just what I needed.  I downloaded it, printed copies, and am using this form as a Table of Contents for each file folder, as in the sample shown below. 

Entry 1 is for the transcription of an ancestor's will, and it is document #9 in the Andrews Family files.  I've written an identifier, "Andrews Family - 9" along the 11" side of the document so it is easily read in the folder.  No matter when I take that transcription out of the folder, I can always get it back in the correct folder once I've finished using it, thanks to the identifier.  As a New Year's resolution, I've going to be copying the info from my Research Record Sheets onto a Google Sheets spreadsheet so it is easy to access when I away from my files.  On Google Sheets I'll be adding a note as to whether the info is paper, scanned, or photo.

In addition to my Surname Files, I have a few general files that I consult periodically.
  • Blank Census Forms for each census year - handy for seeing the different data recorded for each census enumeration, especially those that only show tally marks
  • Check On file - unsourced or questioned data that I want to check further into 
  • Maps - copies of old state,county, and militia district maps
  • Specialized files such as my "Norwegian Searching Tips" gathered from a variety of sources and useful when I'm researching one branch of my family
This has been a quick look at the way my files are organized.  Have you found ways that work for you?  I'll like to hear about them.

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