There are a variety of ways to organize your research. No matter which way you do it, you must do it! This is one of those things that highly recommended but not always followed. When it comes to genealogy, the only thing worse than a brick wall is disorganized information. If how to organize your research is a bit of a problem for you, then have no fear! Here are some helpful ways to overcome this problem.
Is your research all on paper, all on the computer, or both? There are different methods for each of these that work exceptionally well.
For Paper Only
On occasion I still come across people who have done decades of research, but it is all being kept in boxes. None of it is electronic form in any way. When it comes to dozens of boxes, who wants to sort through all of that? Only a seriously dedicated researcher would. If you have all of your stuff on paper only and you need to organize it, just simply buy a whole bunch of sticky notes, several pens, tons of folders, paper clips, tons of binder clips, and a filing cabinet big enough to hold everything. Plus anything else you think you may need.
- Write the name on the folder tab. ie: SURNAME, First Name – have a file folder for every person.
- Organize your folders alphabetically.
- Sort all of your papers by last name into their own folder.
- On each page that goes to another page in another folder by a different last name, write the sticky note “See [name] folder [and page if applicable] for more info”
- Buy, borrow, rent, or pay for a scanning service. Get all of your papers and pictures put onto a computer. Burn at least 2 CD’s and keep a copy of the “My Genealogy” folder in your “Documents” folder.
- Once everything is sorted and you’re satisfied, test it out. Look up someone in your filing system. If you find everything without problems, then you did it right. You should be able to cross reference related documents.
- Congratulate yourself. You just accomplished the [almost] impossible task for organizing your research.
Serious though, its 2012… how to organize on a computer is a whole different matter. That is a more detailed, instructional series of posts coming in the near future.