View Full Version : Paperwork

10-04-09, 19:30
Hi All
I am curious, do you have all your information about your tree on a computer programme, or do you keep paper records for everyone.
I must admit I started keeping paper records for everyone, but as my tree has grown I now only have them for all my direct lines.
What do you all do ?
After the virus/trojan episode with my OH's computer I think I will have to start heeping the records again,
Has anyone got a filing cabinet, bookcase, spare room etc going spare:D

10-04-09, 19:43
I always print out the most important stuff, and keep it in files - having everything on the computer alone would worry me to death!!

Kath nr the Crooked Spire
10-04-09, 20:08
Mine does a full circle, I have lots of paperwork notes and then I enter it on the pc in word documents and pictures because I haven't as yet used family history software.

I have written stories about my ancestors, that is the ones I have enough information about and I want it to see it as paperwork or book in its final stage but I never seem to want to 'finalise' anything that I have written about as there might be a chance that I find more information.

I do wonder if I would be better with two sets, one which has the techinical look and states all the basic facts and the other with the stories that I like so much.

10-04-09, 20:11
I have everything on paper - just in case - otherwise I have tribal pages updated regularly and backed up - and ancestry (small proportion) and GR (not updated recently).

Just Barbara
10-04-09, 20:18
I confess that most of my stuff is written down, the computer is great but I don't really trust it, the kids bought me a great big metal box with a handle and lock, that's got everything in.....in the event of a fire you know what I'll be saving........

Olde Crone Holden
10-04-09, 20:20
I started long before computers, so my default is always paperwork and my tree is sketched out on a roll of wallpaper!

I have a tree on TP, a mythical and elastic skeleton tree on GR and I also have FTM, which I haven't done much with yet!

I still find it easiest to reference paperwork and since I discovered how Ahnantefal numbers work, it is all easily accessible (erm, if I've done the filing, that is!). I use a simple flow chart system, so I can always find my way to the previous and next generation without a problem.


Mary from Italy
10-04-09, 20:24
I do wonder if I would be better with two sets, one which has the techinical look and states all the basic facts and the other with the stories that I like so much.

This is what I should like to do.

Mine is horrifically disorganised - I have most stuff on the computer plus a lot of hard copies stuffed into a couple of large boxes :rolleyes:

I have my tree on FTM, and I've written a couple of articles about people in it for the magazine, but I haven't found a good way of combining the two.

I'm probably trying to be too ambitious - it'd be nice to have stories with links to maps, charts, places and people, but I think you'd need some knowledge of html programming to do that, which I don't have.

10-04-09, 20:39
I use Legacy, and have a basic tree on GR, also TP and a tree on Ancestry.
With the way on Ancestry is now in the fact that you can add whole families with just a few clicks (I find myself adding loads of twigs to the tree ) I keep forgetting to write it all down, and feel faint :rolleyes:at the thought of the time it would take to check everything.
My tree and my OH tree join and another tree I am doing for a friend joins my tree as well, so it gets a bit confusing :confused:, with close to 2500 leaves on the trees.
Think I'll look into getting one of those voice thingy's that type as you talk.

10-04-09, 20:47
I have most thing on the computer but I print off a paper copy of almost everything apart from some censuses. I am a bit of a scaredy cat and, although it would still be a disaster if I lost all of the computer stuff ( I have it on my desk top, a laptop and disc), I have paper copies.
There is something very satisfying about curling up on the sofa and reading some info about a rellie. I don't get the same buzz from the computer.
Sorry if I appear weird but I love my dead rellies and I am very attached to them.

10-04-09, 20:51
I like some of my dead ones more than some of the live ones :):)

10-04-09, 21:02
he he Jackdaw - I know what you mean.:eek:;):D

10-04-09, 21:05
I too have grown very attached to some of my dead people.....especially the ones that were elusive and interesting.

Every now and then, I "write up" the story of a line that I am working on, so that I have what is in effect a growing book. This is all kept as hard copy as well as on the computer, and it is fairly easy to add to or update. I would be cross if my computer went bang, but would be absolutely devastated if my books were destroyed

Kath nr the Crooked Spire
10-04-09, 21:09
This is what I should like to do.

Mine is horrifically disorganised - I have most stuff on the computer plus a lot of hard copies stuffed into a couple of large boxes :rolleyes:

I have my tree on FTM, and I've written a couple of articles about people in it for the magazine, but I haven't found a good way of combining the two.

I'm probably trying to be too ambitious - it'd be nice to have stories with links to maps, charts, places and people, but I think you'd need some knowledge of html programming to do that, which I don't have.

Keep trying Mary and one day you will master it. Mine has changed format several times since I started.
Presently it starts with a head and shoulders picture (where possible) then lists the facts, where they fit into the family, their children and then I start the story.
I'm not sure if this is all going to gell together in the end this is why I think I may need two versions.
I want to use appropriate or pretty background pictures too. I have pictures of gravestones, houses, aeriel views, things my mother made, all which I would like to add but not sure that they will all fit in.
I will probably need a book binding course too to finish it off

10-04-09, 21:26
I would not get rid of my paper files which are numerous. At least once its on paper you don't have to keep changing it from Floppies to CD'S to DVD's to Memory Sticks and probably soon to Blue Ray as it looks asthough DVD is on the way out!! What after Blue Ray in another two years?? I understand that none of these mediums will stand the test time like paper, although today's paper and ink is of poor quality, so that may not stand the test of time either. Still, I like my paper files as well, although I do have lots of things on the computer, but it's all on paper first, before the computer gets hold of it. Mind you it is difficult finding everything, and I do have three shelves 12ft long + another three shelves in another room as well as 3 big bookcases. I have lost count the number of times that I have changed my files around. But I have also changed the computer stuff around.

One time I decided on certs to go with each person file but now I think I will change that, as when I pop off my kids are likely to skip the lot. If I have a couple of files of certs that fate might not happen to those files. I do seem to spend my life changing everything around. The computer is good for doing work with Publisher with which I have written 3 Family History Books and I know that offspring have said they will keep the computer work!


Merry Monty Montgomery
10-04-09, 21:42
I don't have much on paper - only the things that came that way in the first place. I don't have any prints of censuses, but have around 900 pages attached to my family history program. I have all my certs (around 350) scanned and attached to my program too, plus scans of photos and other documents. I have hard copies of wills but they are all transcribed and added to my tree prog too.

stuart Penny
10-04-09, 22:04
Its very strange how similar we all are..........or maybe its not that strange!
I started off using the free build tree on Ancestry but never liked not being able to see all my tree at a glance, so I drew it out on wallpaper!
I still use Ancestry and also Legacy, keeping everything up to date is a pain but necessary and I intend to continue.
Recently I have introduced a new format. I have started putting together a ring binder using clear plastic sleeves and coloured dividers. Each ancestor has a coloured divider and behind that printed sheets of information in their life event order.
For example, John Penny married Elizabeth Knight at West Camel Church Somerset on 5 April 1777. The rest of the page contains a picture of the interior of the church as it is today.
I know I will end up with lots of pages, but I like the thought that it will one day read as a book!
This method also means that I can insert birth/marriage/death certificates in the appropriate order.
It has made it easy to show 'living' rellies which helps when asking for stories or info.

Guess everyone has their own method!

Glen in Tinsel Knickers
10-04-09, 22:26

Each to their own, i just can't do paper at all, i tried in the early days but never transferred the scribbled notes onto my super dooper master sheet for each individual.

It's all on the pc now and i can print reports to show certs held and bmd refs etc. I just make a backup every week onto disc.

11-04-09, 06:02
:o mine is mostly paper notes. when i want a specific reference or event, i si through the folder and look at every piece of paper and it's scribbled notes.

i have a few large drawn trees on art paper. i tend to put all members of a family on a page. i did a tree of my great grandfather, all his descendants, and every known ancestor plus their siblings going back to 1590. hard work, takes hours, but they look magnificent.

i have a lot online too, ancestry mainly. and in my emails. so if the comp crashes, or there's a fire, i don't have to start all over again!!

11-04-09, 07:43
Mine is on computer with a backup on my second computer but I would like to start putting things on paper it's just that I've been thinking for months about the best format to use and can't decide. I would like to make a book of my primary line eventually but I'm not at that stage yet. My sister bought me a large family tree chart for Christmas but I don't want to use that until I've purchased all the certificates that are outstanding.

11-04-09, 08:53
I have always had an untidy desk... well okay, it is worse than untidy, it is almost unhealthy. No rats just yet, but I have one clear space that a beer mat occupies for cups of tea/coffee. I have no real filing system for printouts, they are (let me find a tape measure) 3 random stacks total 14 inches tall. I bought a box file yesterday and all my certificates fit in it although it needed to be a inch longer.
I have an A4 ring binder with sleeves etc... cant find it at the moment. A briefcase with all my mums original work in. I updated to FTM 2009 but never read the instructions but can save census records. I will back it up to disk today! My cleaning lady shakes her head, dusts under the beer mat and moves on :)
After confessing my sins to all... today I will go and get 3 more box files, label them, organise my paperwork (hide in boxes) into my dads side, mums side and post any Christmas cards I find.
I feel refreshed and enthusiastic after writing down my faults and will take some good ideas from others.... mind you, it looks like a lovely day outside!

Olde Crone Holden
11-04-09, 11:19
HEHE John...sounds like my desk too!

Do try Ahnentafel numbers for your filing system, this system has simplified my life.

Difficult to explain but very easy to understand - go to Lost Cousins for a free downloadable Ahnentafel chart and you will immediately understand how they work. I number my folders/files accordingly and have found that it is now much easier to find out where I put GGGF Grimshaw, instead of having to ferret through piles of scruffy bits of paper.

Oh, talking of scruffy bits of paper - train yourself to use a notebook instead and date the pages. I use cheap shorthand pads for all scribble work and cross the stuff through as I load it onto the tree or whatever. I also use this book for Records Office work when I can wheedle it in (not always, nowadays) but the LDS are still ok with taking notebooks in.

I have changed my filing system about once a year on average since I started, lol. I don't think you ever hit on the perfect filing system because what seems a brilliant system one day, shows its flaws on the day you inherit two suitcases of blurb from some relative or other.


Just Barbara
11-04-09, 11:27
I've just thought, everything ISN'T in my metal box.....my photographs..aaahh! And I too love my notebooks, I now have some big posh books which I have started transcribing stuff into.

11-04-09, 13:13
Oh dear notebooks, having a tidy up yesterday I discovered almost 20! I started off with the idea of a different notebook for different places eg one for Northants/Colindale/Kew etc but somehow they all get mixed up and then I have to go through each one looking for info which is what I was doing yesterday. Definitely preferable to bits of paper, but more efficient that depends;)


Just Barbara
11-04-09, 13:15
Janet, I don't think I'd know efficient if it bit me on the ankle.........:o

11-04-09, 13:26

Do you like numbers? I have to say the one tree that drove me mad was the one someone sent to me with these Ahnentafel Charts but then I hate anything which has numbers attached to it, I get a real mental block.:(
I have just spent some time getting rid of the numbers which I know defeats the object.:)


I have definitely decided that efficiency and family history do not sit well together. Just as well there are no offspring left at home otherwise they would both be wondering what happened to their bedrooms.:D


Kath nr the Crooked Spire
11-04-09, 13:57
HEHE John...sounds like my desk too!

Do try Ahnentafel numbers for your filing system, this system has simplified my life.

Thanks for that OC
I've downloaded the chart it will be useful for OHs family which I have recently started, as they don't stay in my head as easily as my own family do.

11-04-09, 14:50
Yes I to have downloaded it and printed of as I couldnt get my head around how they worked ;;;I have FTM and that has added the numbers to my tree but didnt know what they meant so Cheers OC

11-04-09, 19:47
I do use the the numbering sytem - sort off anyway - for my main branches but I loose the plot when I use it in the twigs,
I have done my tree on wallpaper as well :D it is easy to add to and correct if needed and I use different colours for the branches and the ones I have double/triple ckecked ( looks quite a work of art) :) I find this makes it easy to follow and I can see where the ones I need to do some more work on.
They also have their own numbers and each family has its own folder

11-04-09, 20:20
I've been on sorting, for about 2 years, all my papers, certs, bapt/marr/bur printouts, census, cemetery records, headstone pics etc. I've got about 14 lever arch files so far, that's the same number of years i've been researching (& half my age), so does that mean in 20 years time i'll have 34 of them :eek: The files are split up into families/surnames, but i'm still not sure i've got the best 'system' yet :(

At some point I want to do a file(s) that starts with me & my direct lines follow with all the above & write ups for what I know of their lives etc.

But as i've still got several piles & bags of papers to sort that will have to wait awhile.

I sorted my desk out a few weeks ago (everything went in a bag LOL), but this has already been replaced with 'new' paperwork :D

Note to self, get some notebooks, the amount of scraps of paper, backs of envelopes etc would be much less if it were all in a book :D

Olde Crone Holden
11-04-09, 23:05

Yes, I do like numbers funnily enough! But I do agree, other people's ahnentafel numbers are incomprehensible, lol.


12-04-09, 11:14
I see that I am going to have to buy a roll of wallpaper!

Most of mine is on Ancestry as I felt it was safe there, but I started to get "trigger finger" adding all those family members and have a few on twice now!
One tree became huge with OH side and a relative using it for her side, so I tried having seperate trees for each side. It is getting to be a bit of a muddle!

I have a copy of Family Historian which I used for a while, but before I really understood it - not sure I do now actually, and I intend to start again from scratch with a file for each side.

At the moment I am writing up my mother's father's side as an 80th Birthday present and it is really satisfying. Each generation has a separate filename so it can be amended easily and I'll put it into a loose leaf binder. That way it is a work in progress. Having a deadline helps to focus the mind too.

In fact I will try to do this for all sides eventually!

12-04-09, 12:21
i print from ancestry i use the the alaphabet from a to z and print all the names of.i also have each family printed of and filed.i have legacy and ancestry,i have done a c/d disk too brenda xxx

12-04-09, 16:09
I have my famiy tree on Genes Reunited, Ancestry.com, Tribal pages etc. I also had it on my computer (Family Tree Maker) until my computer packed up once and for all!

I'm so glad though that I had previously printed off census records and all family information given to me by newly found distant relatives.

Luckily I had also writen up the history of my direct ancestors on both of my parents side of the family and on OH's and saved the info on CD's.

I have six A4 files stuffed full of (paper census records and emails) for each surname in my family tree.

Plus two A4 files for certificates. One for my Irish side and another for the English.

I much prefer my paper documents as I can browse though those without having to spend time sat at the computer...and it's surprising what sometimes 'jumps out' at you, that you didin't notice before.

Every certificate and (photo) I get, I also store them on my computer and periodically download them on to CD's too. That way I know that I can access them again if ever my new computer packs up!

Over the last 5 years I have gained so many photo's of my grandparents' siblings and extended families, I've had puchase new family photo albums and I've even split them up into OH's surnames and mine. AND I've written who they are just so my children can see that these are their ancestors/relatives and must be kept at all cost!