Hello everyone! I hope you are all having great success in whatever research you are doing!
Today, I want to talk a bit about a new way of thinking on my digital organization. It’s not a recommendation to everyone as much as it is just me sharing with you what I am trying right now! It’s not for my digital photos but for the digital information concerning my genealogy. You know, Birth Certificates, Death Certificates, Census files, etc….
I’ve been doing this genealogy thing now for almost 11 years. I hate to admit it but I have never really sat down and figured out a way of organizing all my files. I have collected many records but I am surprised at how little organization there is to it! So, before I go into what I am trying now let me tell you a bit about what I have done in the past!
I never really took any lessons in genealogy. I just jumped in and started trying to trace my roots. I initially started my database using some cheap software that I can’t even remember the name of now! I didn’t know any better. It wasn’t until about 3 or 4 years into my research that I discovered Family Tree Maker and began using it! A few years ago I discovered that there were so many more useful software programs and I began looking in to those also. I still use FTM but I am seriously considering using Legacy also.
My way of thinking early on was that I should create a separate database for each line. I had a Forbes database, a Spangler database, a Gamble database and a Stevenson database. Each database had everything from my mother and father down and it branched up from whichever family it was. I realize today that this is a lot of overkill. In the process of doing things this way I also created a folder with digital info for each line. This means that if I had a Birth Certificate for my son, it was in all 4 databases! If you include the fact that I eventually began trying to make a folder for my “Immediate Family” then there would be 5 copies! Way too much!
So, in the last week or so I have decided to try something new. I don’t know if anyone has tried this before because I haven’t done a lot of research about it. I simply sat down one night and began to brainstorm about a way of simplifying the situation. After a while I decided that the best way to do this would be to use a numbering system. This system will consist of a number key that will identify each file and make it easier for me to identify them. Here is an example of what I am thinking:
- 01 – My Family (Me, my wife, my children, my granchildren, etc….)
- 02 – My Immediate Family (My Mom & Dad, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, etc…)
- 03 – My Wife’s Immediate Family
- 04 – Forbes (Files related to my Forbes ancestors)
- 05 – Spangler
- 06 – Gamble
- 07 – Stevenson
Using this “Key” I will rename my files so that they will be easier to identify, for example, 01 – Kenneth Wayne Spangler Birth Certificate or 02 – David Isaac Spangler Death Certificate. This works good but there is still too much here so I decided I would go one step further. In my partition for genealogy I created several folders. There are folders for Birth Records, Death Records, Marriage Records, Divorce Records, etc… In these folders there are sub-folders, such as in the “Birth Records” folder there are folders called Birth Certificates, Heirloom Birth Certificates, Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997, etc…
The purpose of the folders is to eliminate the need to add Birth Certificate on the name of the file. So, I can have the folder called Birth Certificates and just have files that say 01 – Kenneth Wayne Spangler or 02 – David Isaac Spangler or 07 – Winnie Ida Stevenson.
It may sound complicated but it is actually working out pretty well so far! The good thing about this is that I can put all the files into one place and if I need to gather just the files for my Stevenson ancestors then all I have to do is do a search for “07 – ” and it should bring them all up!
To make things even easier I have decided to have just one database. I know it may be huge but it will be a lot easier to handle. No more typing the same thing over and over again. Of course, I can also start over and make sure that I source my info as I add the names to the database.
I am really excited about how this looks to be shaping up. I know it has a lot of possibilities and I look forward to finally getting everything in order eventually.
So, that is it for now. What do you think? Does this make sense or does it seem to be too complicated? Would you have any suggestions on how to make it better or perhaps for an even easier solution? Feel free to leave some comments and let me know what is on your mind!
Have a great week!