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How to store it all...


  • How to store it all ...

    In the very early stages of your research you will find that you need not only a suitable medium for recording data, but also an efficient filing system for your paper records.

    You will need to devise a method which works for you. For example this might be keeping separate files for each family group or ancestral line, the use of index cards for recording details about each individual, different coloured note books for different branches of your tree or just using your family tree software for recording all your data and research notes. Other ideas received from our members include the use of plastic wallets with a label showing content, word processor files on which all research notes are entered, e.g. emails, interesting threads, BMD transcriptions etc., and the filing of all certificates separately in alphabetical order.

    It may take a while to create your preferred system, and you will probably change it as you go along, but it is certainly worthwhile taking your time over it so that you know where everything is stored and you can access documents easily.

    The following method of storage is a suggestion from one of our members:

    There are almost as many methods of storing information as there are genealogists. My main tip would be to begin storing and filing as soon as you begin researching. Paper mountains build very quickly.

    I use loose leaf binders. My first binder contains all the replies I had to letters I sent out to family members. I still refer back to these from time to time. Also in this folder are replies to letters I sent to members of Family History Societies who were researching the same names. Sometimes there is no obvious link when you first contact other researchers but a few years down the line you may find the vital link. I also keep a folder on my PC containing all the email replies I have had to enquries to surname interest pages.

    I keep my father's and my mother's trees in separate files in Family Tree Maker so it makes sense to store the paperwork separately as well. I have a loose leaf folders containing birth, marriage and death certificates in acid free plastic envelopes. In this folder I also keep photocopies of baptisms, marriages and burials which predate certificates.

    I have a folder containing copies of newspaper reports, court proceedings, settlement papers, wills and other documents obtained from the PRO or CROs.

    Another folder contains census material in order of the years, both transcriptions and copies of originals downloaded from ancestry or photocopied from a film at the LDS or CRO.

    I would not be able to keep track of it all without Family Tree Software.

    A method used by a friend is a card index. She has a card for every person on her tree. On the card are BMD details and any other details she's been able to find about her ancestors. She uses different coloured pens for each blood line. I started to do this but ran out of colours as my tree grew. However, this method is ideal for those only interested in direct lines.

    My husband has the name Allender in his line, which is quite unusual. I'm still trying to find the link between two distinct lines found in the same area with the same occupations so I began an informal one name study.

    I used Excel to create a spreadsheet of all IGI baptisms and another of all IGI marriages. I also have spreadsheets of every census year and all the Allenders found. Using this I created another file in Family Tree Maker and tried to link the IGI data with the census and I am beginning to reconstruct as many Allender families as I can. Eventually I hope to find time to create spread sheets of Allenders found in the BMD indexes.


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