Organization – Not Sure There’s a Better Way

Over the past few months, I’ve read several posts about getting organized and considered participating in the ‘boot camp’ on organization. Most posts refers to color coding and notebooks. Unfortunately, I can’t bend my mind around how to make my ‘stuff’ fit into those systems. Thus I’ve hesitated to do the boot-camp. By taking time to ‘consider’ I missed the ‘boot camp’.

One of the reasons behind my taking time to ‘consider’ is that I haven’t seen any recommended methods that better fits my research:

  • 37 years of research – most in paper
  • Lots of cluster research — in at least one case following the neighbor for 3 generations
  • Collateral research — often following descendants for at least 2 or 3 generations
  • ‘One surname’ study for specific area / time period

A lot of the recommendations regarding organization refer to ‘notebooks’. That is how I started and much of my original research is still in those notebooks. However, using the notebooks became problematic when the photocopy covered lots of different people. I simply couldn’t figure out where to put the copy. It was also hard to figure out how to place all of my cluster research in the notebooks let alone the research involving ‘one-name’ in early Kentucky.

Thus, when I met William Dollarhide, I adopted a system similar to one he recommended for filing paper. In this system, each document is assigned a ‘unique number’ composed of three parts:

  • Surname
  • State Abbreviation (so far all of my research is in the United States)
  • Number — sequential based on when acquired

Thus, I have a document assigned the following ‘number’: Crawford.KS.024. Based on that ‘number’, I know where to find it in my files. I’ve incorporated that number into the documentation for the event in my genealogy software. I’m also incorporating the number into the file name when the document is scanned.

If the goal of getting ‘organized’ is the ability to find the document, then my system seems to work. I just need to remember to continue to include the ‘number’ as part of the source documentation.