Pipsqueak helps me sort papers and folders
I think that I was reading Randy Seaver’s mind this weekend.
Randy's assignment was:
1) Think about this: Is all of your genealogical material, which you've gathered over the years, well organized? Do you have papers, certificates, photographs and other ephemera squirreled away somewhere in your genealogy cave center? Do you have forgotten digital files, including documents, photographs and notes hiding in your computer file folders? It's Saturday night, do you know where ALL of your family history information is?
2) Give yourself a grade (from A to F) on how well you've done with your filing of tangible and digital genealogical assets (two grades, one for each). Brag about your organizational prowess if you deserve it - you can be a good example to the rest of us. Bemoan your situation if your files are like mine.
3) Look through your tangible or digital genea-assets and find something you've "lost," forgotten or overlooked that might add to your knowledge about one or more families. Tell us what you found, how will it help you, and will you commit to analyze it, source it, and use it?
Why do I think I was reading Randy’s mind?
Saturday I was going to do some research. I went up to my home office, aka “Genealogy Central,” to start work. The item I needed was under a pile. That pile included some genealogy folders. And on top of the box next to desk were more genealogy folders. I realized that some of these items should go into the folders in the box.
So I took all of the stuff downstairs to the family room, where there is plenty of space to spread out, to sort and file.
Three hours later, the materials were all sorted and filed.
This is why I am giving myself a “B” for organization of hard-copy assets and not a “C”. I must have somehow sensed that Randy’s task this weekend had something to do with organization.
A couple of weeks ago, I did some preliminary organization by consolidating some binders and hanging files into portable file boxes (each box contains materials for a particular line where I have done a lot of research: Brinlee, Moore, etc.):
The materials for most of the rest of the family lines I am researching are kept in binders:
Families for which I have only done preliminary research are kept in hanging files, along with materials on genealogical societies, genealogy publications, and so forth.
So there is a system and I can pretty much find what I need at this point. Still, there are a few odd file boxes and binders that are not organized by family: the items I obtained from my research trip to Greenville, SC still have a separate box (there are materials on three different family lines in that box), there is a file box containing documents that were too large to fit in binders or the shorter file boxes that I use, and I still have a binder full of “miscellaneous” genealogy notes.
For digital files, I would also give myself a “B”. Most of the sub-folders in my Genealogy folder are organized by family name, with sub-sub folders divided into individual generations, and sub-sub-sub folders for digital copies of vital records, newspaper articles, write-ups, correspondence, etc. The remaining folders are subject-based and have a number at the beginning of the file name so that they precede the family names: 1Forms, 2Research trips, 3To Do Lists, 4Resources, and so forth.
The main problem with my digital files is that I have digital files on two different computers (there was a third I used for a while, but I believe I have transferred all of those files to my MacBook Pro). I can access the files on my desktop computer through the Time Machine, but there is a lot of duplication and enough differences in organization between the desktop files and the laptop files that it can be confusing. Transcription projects, collections of newspaper articles, etc. can sometimes be hard to find. And I still need to put my photographs from both computers onto the Time Machine. So maybe that's a B-.
Bookmarks should also be included in digital organization. Not great - two different browsers + 3 computers = Chaos. This probably brings my digital grade down to a C+. However, I have been working on consolidating everything into a Genealogy Toolbox and have also been using Diigo.
One thing I found while reorganizing was a set of articles from doing a search on “Koehl” on GenealogyBank; the Koehls in these articles were not people I recognized as belonging to my husband’s Koehl family, but could be related, so I filed them under the “Leads” section of the Koehl family binder. The source information has already been written on them.
What has been my big advantage in organizing my files?
I’ve only been doing genealogy for six years.
If I can accumulate this much stuff in six years, what will my files look like in 20 years?