This is another in an ongoing series of my organizational efforts – here and here, for example. It’s an important part of how I work, so I’m documenting it here for my reference. This is my personal record, after all!
Last July I returned from a visit with Dad with this in tow.
All of my mother’s genealogy research and information was filed in this box, categorized by just a few broad labels like “Roberts” or “Pratt.” Mother had been researching her ancestry for years (I found several letters of inquiry dated in the 1960’s) and she had accumulated a wide assortment of documents. Dad was happy to see the box go; he had no plans to continue the research on the Pratt/Roberts side of the family, and I think it made him feel good to know that even if I never did anything with the information, at least I had it available.
I rifled through the files and decided that I probably had a treasure chest of genealogy information, but many of the names were unfamiliar to me. I knew I had heard “Buker” before, but I had no idea what family line that name belonged. “Benoni Pratt” kept turning up, and I finally realized that name belongs to two different ancestors – my great-grandfather and his grandfather. I wasn’t really sure how to make sense out of my inheritance, and I was very overwhelmed, so I did the natural thing and ignored the box for several months.
One day when I couldn’t ignore the hodgepodge any longer, I read about a filing system that made sense to me. So armed with file folders in 4 colors – indicating my four direct lines – I sorted and filed. Going into this project, I was very afraid that my need for organization coupled with my ignorance and inexperience in the field of genealogy could result in the loss of valuable information. So as a precaution, I threw almost nothing away, which is highly unusual for me. I simply filed every document where I thought it belonged, knowing that I would have to do some rearranging later. The file folders were still bulging, but it was a more organized bulging!
That system was a great improvement, but I still didn’t know which documents I had for which people or what information they verified. So following a genealogy class at the local library, I knew I had to do something to create easier access. About this same time, I saw this Organizational Checklist on Dear Myrtle’s blog, and I was pretty sure I had found my answer.
So now I’m in the process of creating my surname binders, printing family group sheets, scanning pictures and documents and getting everything for each family name all in one place. It’s great! I’m only making slow progress, because scanning and labeling scans and pictures is a time consuming and tedious process.
But I am making progress. And I’m finding some amazing things – like the death certificate for my great-great grandfather. I’m almost through with the Pratt binder – then it’s on to Berrett, Butler, Carpenter, and all the names within those families. . . Don’t look for this project to be completed this week!