Organizing Your Genealogy Research
Do you enjoy the research aspect of genealogy so much that you lose a bit in the organization department? I do! There are many ways to organize your genealogy research, pictures and memorabilia. It takes time and effort; however, the effort will pay off by making it easier to find information AND reducing the amount of repeat research you do.
Where To Start
When you begin to organize your research, it is best to decide which method or system might work for you (this may depend on your space at home, your technical savvy or your preferences).
- What do you plan to keep in paper format versus what do you plan to digitize? (Examples: photos, birth and death certificates, letters / postcards, family tree charts)
- What system would work best for you?
- Do you create a binder or file system to organize the paperwork by family groups?
- Do you use a software program that can easily keep track of relationships and digitize your paperwork?
- For the binder or file systems, it is best to create Family Group Sheets and Ancestral Charts, available for free from Ancestry Charts and Forms. These can go at the beginning of a binder or file to keep the family relationships organized. The corresponding documents can then be filed with the family group.
- A Timeline for each direct ancestor is a useful aid in discovering where there are gaps in your research.
- A Research Calendar is helpful in organizing your actual research events and resources, so that you do not repeat your research.
The Fauquier County Public Library’s Virginiana collection includes several books on how to organize and digitize your genealogy materials:
- Organizing Your Family History Search
- Beyond Pedigrees: Organizing and Enhancing Your Work
- The Unpuzzling Your Past Workbook
- Managing a Genealogical Project
- Digitizing Your Family History
- How to Archive Family Keepsakes
- Legacy Family Tree – there is a free standard program.
- Family Tree Maker – a great standard program, with various upgrades to older versions available. This was recently acquired by Software MacKiev.
- RootsMagic – try the free “Essentials” download.
- Family Tree Magazine’s “Genealogy Software Guide.”
- Ancestral Findings’ article: “Organizing and Storage Tips for Your Genealogy Research”
- Family Search’s article: “Organizing Your Files”
- Cyndi’s List has great suggestions: “Organizing Your Research”
Hopefully, these tips will help you get started on organizing your genealogy research, so that it does not become an overwhelming task. Happy researching AND organizing!
Mary Sue, Adult Reference, Bealeton branch library