Monday, June 4, 2012

A Method to My Madness ~ Organizing My Genealogy

So you have started searching your ancestral roots and you have accumulated documents, papers, genealogy forms, birth and death records from one or multiple surnames. How do you stay organized? How do you know what documents belong to which ancestor? Do you just throw everything into one file folder labeled "Family Tree Stuff"? Haha I did that! But I'm trying to change that right now! 

Some ideas that may help are:

In your filing cabinet, you have all these folders where some are labeled and some are not. Okay! So it's time to sort through all that mess. Because the more involved you become in the subject of genealogy, the more paperwork and photos you are going to accumulate. Believe me, it's not pretty! So first off, you are going to want to gather all your files together, separate each document by surname and put in a folder. This is where you want to start labeling each file folder- you can even color code each surname if it makes it any easier for you to distinguish one folder from the next. I love this idea! You don't necessarily have to label the folder by surname; you can label by couple, maternal or fraternal grandparents and so on. I just think it's much easier to label by surname to limit any confusion. As you probably already know, there are hundreds of names in one person's family tree. In my own research, I have come across names in my Cornett ancestry that include but are not limited to Carrico, Sutherland, Delp, Canute, Canutt, Anderson, Livesay and so on. There are plenty of others, so this can get confusing if you don't organize what you have already.

Organize your hard drive on your computer! Recently, I have scanned two separate sets of paperwork on my family's tree- mind you, each set was approximately 30 pages! Create a hierarchy of folders that are easy to find on your hard drive. Adobe Acrobat is a Godsend as it creates one PDF file of multiple files. Saves you space! 

This is what my files look like, with everything labeled and in its' respective folder. So easy to do! 

Do you have hand written notes in notebooks? I did! I think I had two notebooks at one time with names, dates and events all written down with no general sequence. They were just randomly written and sporadic and just a bunch of clutter! Well pull out your shredder and get rid of all that. Create a word document of all your notes so you aren't throwing away any vital information and all that clutter. 

You could create an ancestral timeline that shows when your ancestors lived and for how long. 

Prepare and fill out the pedigree chart of all your known ancestors. 

I hope these ideas help you in some way. There's nothing like a messy, unorganized work space! 

Links to Genealogy Forms- Free To Download

Free Forms To Organize Your Research

Free Genealogy Forms


Image Source: Stack Of Files


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