My 2019 Genealogy Do-Over: The Story of 15,000 Images

Thomas MacEntee brought genealogy do-overs to life way back in 2015, I think it was. Do-overs, or at least go-overs are part of the organization process I think every genealogist should practice yearly.

Whether the review process is small or mighty, go-overs help keep the research process tidy.

If you read my 2019 genealogy goals a few weeks ago, you might remember that I mentioned getting around to what I called a mind-numbingly boring task – renaming images and attaching them back into my genealogy software. I knew I was going to have to do something drastic to force myself to see this project through to completion!

Well, I jumped in and there is no turning back! I have to thank Cyndi Ingle and her Legacy Family Tree webinar, Maintaining an Organized Computer, for being the final push to get me going.

I’m an organized person – I didn’t need to organize myself, I just needed to get going with my plan.

I figure I have close to 15,000 images. At least my entire paper collection is in archival albums and totally digitized, so I don’t have to worry about that. However, this is what some of those 15,000 images looked like when they were heading out to the scanning company:

Pulled apart and ready to be sorted

Down to the nitty-gritty

The fact that all of this is now in digital format doesn’t really make the job less time-consuming because renaming and reattaching will take way longer than it took to sort and mail off the paper versions!

However, I did it! I created a GEDCOM of my family trees with no images attached. Both my husband’s and my trees have about 7,500 people in them.

Then I got busy and re-organized all my surname folders. A handful of files are quite small with fewer than 20 images, so there wasn’t much to do there. Some folders had too many generations in them, making it difficult to find what I wanted. Where I needed to, I added sub-folders for the head of household for each generation.

Here’s my newly reorganized Adams folder:

It took me about five days to re-organize all of my folders. Where duplicates of images were found, one was deleted. (Yes, I have several back ups of all files the way they were before I started moving everything around.)

About a half dozen folders took many hours each because they were so big. The worst by far was my Williams folder, which contains all the images I have collected for 25+ years of my husband’s Williams family. The book form of that info is now 247 pages long if that gives you an idea of how many images and generations are in that one folder!

Now the renaming and reattaching process has begun. However, I figure since I’ve stripped all the images from the tree AND renamed them, I have to keep pushing forward until I finish. Right?

The file naming format I’ve decided on, after much self debate, is:


I checked out a number different naming formats, but it finally came down to one question I asked myself.

If all my files became paper and fell on the floor, what would be the easiest way for me to get them back in their appropriate folders?

The answer was easy – the first words need to be surname and given name.

I do have to admit I’ve been energized just by re-organizing all the files and I am liking the format I’ve chosen.

I’m expecting this process to easily fill 2019 and possibly 2020. Now to just be able to stave off my boredom until I hit the finish line.

Perhaps I’ll post a mid-year progress report this summer. 🙂


One thought on “My 2019 Genealogy Do-Over: The Story of 15,000 Images”

  1. Congratulations and your descendants will thank you 15,000 times for organizing these 15,000 images! Really an impressive achievement to have family images not only scanned but also organized on paper and digitally.

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