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I have a file system for my computer, for my filing cabinet and for my traveling research. I use binders for traveling to libraries or to visit families and of course, I always have my laptop or flashdrive with my full files on it as well as my digital camera.

I have a binder for each of my 4 grandparents. Each binder begins with a 5 generation chart and then I have dividers for each surname. I have my family group sheets for each surname, which helps me decide if the “John Smith” record I’m looking at is for my great-great-grandfather or for his son’s son. I’m currently working on adding my endnotes for each piece of information on the group sheet. I have done a fairly decent job of keeping track of my sources in my Family Tree Maker program, but I had never included these sources on my group sheets. It has always been a huge frustration to me to be in the middle of my research at the library, to look at a group sheet and wonder where in the world I got THAT date from! So my top priority right now is bringing my citations up to date.

When I go to the library, I bring along the binder for the branch I’ll be working on as well as the folder for the specific family I intend to research. That way, if I come across information for another possible connection, I can look at my group sheets to see if it’s worth noting for future research or not.

I purposely try to keep these binders as stream lined as possible. It is so easy for me to get side tracked during my research and I find that I can keep myself on track much easier if I don’t have the temptation of looking at my full information on any other lines except for my chosen line of the day. I also know that I’m less likely to make a spur of the moment trip to the library if I have to make a big plan for what I’m bringing along – not to mention the weight of my back pack! I simply grab my laptop, my binder and 1 or 2 family folders from my filing cabinet and away I go!

In my backpack, I keep my post-it notes handy to keep track of sources I’d like to come back to on other family lines. I cite the source and page number on the post-it and stick it to the correct family group sheet so I’ll remember to come back to it at a future date.

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