history-genealogy site

This is a site where I will discuss my family genealogy research and related history. When a blog deals with a particular family group, I will try to include it in the title so uninterested people can skip it without skimming it. It is my hope to get feedback on research methods, family members and historical context from other historians, genealogists, and researchers. (c) Barbara L. de Mare 2006, 2007

Location: Englewood, New Jersey, United States

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


When I first got serious about genealogy I read everything I could find about organization. No system seemed particularly good for my purposes, but I tried one. I think originally I just had hanging file folders for each family name. Well, I obviously outgrew that in a hurry. If I recall correctly my next step was to make folders for individual persons, divide them with number dividers, and keep a running list on the left side of what was in each number. I developed a numbering system, based on Ahnentafelso that new names wouldn't change it, and used those numbers on the file. I also color-coded by family. These are arranged by number and occupy many file drawers. I don't make a file until I have a need for it. I am not good at keeping the contents up on the computer, but generally do write them down on the left side of the folder. When I open a file I also make a page of labels with the persons name, number, and some other identifying information. Now, you guessed it--this was insufficient for families for whom I had a lot of stuff. It also worked poorly when I had general family information, not stuff on a specific person. One inch notebooks were my solution. I have dozens of them, organized alphabetically. I even hired a carpenter to build book shelves for them, so that the shelves are all the right height. One inch isn't a lot of space, especially if I have done a lot of research, or have a lot of family documents. For those families I go to 3 or 4 inch notebooks. These I try hard to keep quite well organized. Usually I start with geographic information about the family home in England, then move on to secitions for each place the family lived in this country. When the towns are small, I include a map and a brief sketch of the town history. Both can usually be found on the internet. I have seprate sections for census returns, records, cemetery information, etc. I also try to maintain research journals for each family, and periodically print them out and replace the prior one in the notebook. No two are exactly alike, as the information I have varies. I a keep a good Table of Contents to these books which is, in essence, a summary of what is included. My Chapel family is now on its 4th large notebook plus all the individual folders. I Have a Table of Contents which is many pages long. I recently completely re-organized and re-wrote one section as i had found a lot of new information. I use see-through dividers, sort of like page protectors, between sections. The part of the Contents applying to that section is printed separately and inserted in the dividers. At the beginning of each book I have the entire table of Contents for that book. This combination of systems works well, when I have time to keep it up. It is hard with my daughter and 4 grandchildren (5-11) living with me, a full time job, and many genealogical volunteer duties, such as President of one local Society and in charge of trips for another. I have many of the proverbial "stacks" or "piles." My desk is barely visible. I also have bins and milk crates to hold stuff waiting to be filed. These at least are divided by family or family group. My Chapel family with its four large notebooks has 4 more boxes of stuff sorted to be filed, and I am sure there is stuff in the "stacks." I also have boxes and boxes of pictures, mostly with trip notes so that I know what they are. The picture problem is still awaiting a solution. Next time I feel moved to write about organization, I will talk about original documents.


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