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!
I’ve accepted this challenge! I’m going to make a concerted effort to record stories from my personal history. I don’t expect they’ll be in any specific order, but I’m excited to write my memories. So watch this blog . . . we’ll be traveling from Saginaw to Saudi, Uniopolis to Isfahan, and many places in between. We’ll meet a lot of people along the way and learn a little of their stories also. Because really, our personal histories are greatly influenced by those who have come before and after us.
The challenge is for the month of February. I’m hoping to continue throughout the year and maybe even have something to publish by early next year. . .
I’m drowning in a sea of pictures this week. I’ve assigned myself the job of gathering, sorting, and organizing by year all of the pictures we have taken/acquired since we married in 1973. No small task. I do have a system in place, and it’s working well, but the sheer volume of pictures is still daunting – even on my third day of this project.
But on the bright side, I’m finding some great shots and reliving a lot of fun times as I wade through almost four decades of our family’s history.
And just when I thought I couldn’t look at another picture, I discovered this treasure – and I laughed out loud. Really loud. And for a long time.
I’m excited to see what else is waiting for discovery!
I came home from my dad’s house last week with this.
And as I’ve starting sorting, I’ve created some messy piles.
I’m attempting to work the new treasures into my current filing system.
I think I’m going to need another file box.
And a lot more hours in my days.
But I don’t lack for enthusiasm.
Maybe I’ll create another blog like this one, for my side of the family.
I love this stuff.
I realize that I am very fortunate to be able to spend my days in projects that are dear to my heart. Family history in all its forms – genealogy research, written histories, preserving pictures – can keep my interest for hours and days on end. And although I quit a part time job to pursue this unpaid work, it doesn’t feel like my JOB. If it’s fun and fulfilling, it doesn’t really count as work, right?
Sometimes I find my self almost apologetic when stumbling through a response to the question, “Do you work?”
“Well, sort of, but not really. I do family history. My husband and I feel that preserving our family history is really important. . . ” Even to my own ears, my wandering explanations of family history, genealogy and scrapbooks don’t seem convincing. My job is to scrapbook?
And the casual conversation really turns awkward when the questioner struggles to make sense of what I’ve just said. I imagine her thoughts, “Your job is to scrapbook?”
As a result of my skewed perspective that work cannot be enjoyable, I put off starting projects that I want to do and need to do, because I keep thinking I should be doing something IMPORTANT. I have to fill my days with WORK. Fun activities come after the work is done.
In years past, I have compiled scrapbooks for Emily, Nathan and Peter. I’ve found the time between obligations of work and family to organize and display their histories.
I started Emily’s book just before she was married, and completed it about a year later. This month I’ve scanned each page, so I have a digital copy of all that hard work.
It’s been fun to study those pictures again and laugh at fashion, style, and personality from days gone by.
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I’ve been working on Peter’s pictures for years. When I first started, an experienced scrapbooker suggested that I start with the youngest child so I wouldn’t have so much catching up to do.
So Pete’s has been a work in progress, and with a couple more pages to document his post high school years, it will be ready for the scanner. I know Brittney’s anxious to have the finished product.
Mark (but mostly Kate) is still patiently waiting for his personal record to take its place on their bookshelf. But this week I’m moving forward with the idea that it’s okay to spend my day in activities that I love. I’ve finally started his albums, and I’m doing it in the middle of the day during prime work time. Imagine that!