Tag Archives: Genealogy & Technology

Genealogy Organizing: How I Do It

From time to time, I am asked how I organize my 40+ years of genealogical treasures and data. If you’re expecting this to be a long post, or even a multi-part explanation, you’d be wrong.

SIMPLE is always the best way to organize anything and, although I’m sharing my method, the way you organize should be the way that works best for you.

How Do I Do It?

1. Paper and digital records are organized in exactly the same way – by SURNAME. I have a folder for every surname in my direct ancestral line. Records created by a female before marriage are placed in her father’s surname folder. If a female married more than once, all her married records are placed in the surname folder for the husband that is in my direct line.

Cousin files are grouped under the surname folder of our common ancestor. For example, my first cousins are nestled under our grandfather. Second cousins are found under our common great grandfather.

2. Original paper items, such as baptismal certificates, photos, etc. are also filed alphabetically by surname in the same manner as digital records. I inherited original photos of my 2X great grandparents, Calvin Adams and Nellie Tarbox, so they are together in the albums under “Adams, Calvin.”

I have discarded all photocopies and non-original paper records, but have scanned and saved them digitally.

Originals are kept in archival albums with slipcovers, in a closet away from sunlight. My company of choice is University Products in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

3. After trying several styles of naming digital images, I found one that works extremely well for me and makes it easy to find something when I need it.

Some choose to save images in folders named by type of record – e.g. Births, Marriages, Newspaper Articles, etc. with everyone, regardless of surname, grouped in those categories.  That doesn’t work for me, as I prefer to keep all my records together by surname.

How do I name my images? This is what I’ve found works best for me:

SurnameGivenName.RecordType.Year.Description

Examples:
AdamsCalvin.Marriage.1875.CalaisMainetoNellieTarbox

SmithEdna.Newspaper.1947.EngagementHeraldNews15JulyPage1

SaboJulia.Photo.1912.BridesmaidPassaicNJUnknownCouple

StewartMary.Letter.1991.WilliamStuartFamilyInfo

I try not to make the description too long, but just long enough to jog my memory of what the item is.

If I am looking for a cemetery record, I go to surname folders, find the person’s name in the list, open the file, scroll down to “Cemetery” and click.

That’s it! I promised a short explanation! Remember, the most important thing is to find a system that works for you and BE CONSISTENT!

Happy Organizing!