In my filing cabinet, I have a hanging folder for each family I am researching. I have a regular school-type 3 prong folder for each family. I buy these in bulk at “back to school” time when I can usually get them for about 10 cents each. There are 4 colors of folders – a different color for each of my grandparents and their ancestors. The folders are arranged in my filing cabinet alphabetically by color (a different section in the cabinet for each color). When I start a new folder, I begin by putting 5 top loading sheet protectors in the prongs. I use these sheet protectors for copies and print outs of records that I find. The very first page is always the group sheet for that family. My goal is for my folder to be like a chronological booklet of evidence for that family. Some folders eventually have more sheet protectors added, but not all of them. I like the sheet protectors because it’s easy to rearrange the order of the printouts and I don’t break the prongs with overuse.
In the front pocket of the folder, I keep group sheets for each child (if I’ve researched them) and my typed notes for the family. These notes are written as a timeline and every single piece of information that I can find on the family is included in these notes along with footnotes of sources. I recently decided to also add thumbnail images of all of my sources so that I can tell at a glance if I have a copy of the original or a transcription from a book, etc. It also reminds me if I need to scan a document. I am a very visual person, so seeing the thumbnail helps me remember where I am in my research. I also include thumbnails of photos I have for the family to help me remember that their lives were more than a list of dates and places.
In the back pocket of the folder, I keep print outs of census images, correspondence and index listing from books I have been looking at. I do not include the census print outs in the sheet protectors simply because there are usually quite a few print outs for a family. I crop the digital census images to include just the information of my family and include it as an image in my typed notes.
Copies of documents for my direct line are kept with the parents’ folder until the time of their marriage. My notes for each person include all sources of information from birth through death, but I know that the copy of the source is in the parents’ folder if it occurred before their marriage. This works well for me because the thumbnail images in the typed notes remind me that I have a document in another folder that I can easily access and it cuts down on the amount of paper in my filing cabinet.
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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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Posted in Introductions, tagged Introduction on May 9, 2009 |
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Welcome to my blog. I’ve been doing genealogy research for years, and now I feel a strong desire to begin writing the story of my family. I’d like to make this blog a place to document my research steps as well as a place for my scattered ideas for family stories to be collected and to germinate. To me, the hardest part of writing has always been to begin. This is my beginning…
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