Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sorting Saturday - What To Do With All That Paperwork?

Okay, be honest. Is this what your genealogy research looks like?

Yes, that's my honest-to-goodness "needs to organized" pile of research that needs to be tackled. Now, you are probably wondering why someone who does this for a living would allow it to get so out of control. And the answer is simple.

When I get going with a case, I lose all interest in getting the papers filed away neatly! Most of these are simply forms that I use when I am doing the research. The originals are all digitized. I find this makes it so much easier to handle. Then the original documents (birth,death, marriage, or other purchased records) are put into archival sleeves, and placed in binders under the individuals name,

Here's what the final files look like:
And I have about 12 of these 6-inch, super wide, binders. These are archival quality binders. I have one for each of my major research lines for my family. And then I have one for ancillary research (let's say that I find out I'm related to Queen Elizabeth, then I'd add her and our common ancestry into that one). The others are reserved for direct ancestors, and their children. I sometimes, not always, but sometimes will follow a cousin down to the 3rd or 4th removed, but seldom past there, unless I find that there's something unusual or interesting further down the line. So, for instance, I have a notebook marked BEAN, for my Dad's family. This goes back to the 1790's. And there is one marked DREHER for my Mother's family. Now, when it comes to my Dad's mother, she is mentioned in the BEAN notebook, but is cross-referenced to another notebook with her birth surname, FAUDREE. Then we go further back and my Dad's grandmother in the BEAN notebook is Margaret Smith PERKINS. So, then, there is a PERKINS notebook. And Dad's great-grandfather, William,'s wife is listed in the BEAN notebook, but then there is a separate notebook for her maiden name of WISEMAN. And so on. So, how do I organize the interiors? Well, the first page will start with the earliest noted ancestor. There will be an individual record sheet for him, and then a family record sheet. This will go under a tab marked WILLIAM BEAN. I use gold colored tabs for my direct ancestor's. And then that person's children will be in blue tabs. Their children will be in red tabs, and so on. This allows me to go directly to an ancestor without much effort. Again, these are all original documents. They are kept much the same way in files on my computer once they have been digitized.

I usually go through my paperwork about once a month and digitize any originals. I then make sure that they, and their information, got properly placed into my genealogy program before sliding the document into an archival sleeve and placing into the archival notebooks. This process has been known to take 3 days when I've had a particularly good month! But usually takes but a few hours any more.

These large six-inch notebooks completely fill one of my 6-foot tall bookcases. But they are readily available should I need to see them for clarification at any time. As are the digitized versions on the computer. When we have family reunions, I usually bring a few notebooks, and then set up a slide show on my laptop of just photographs. Everyone loves that! You'll see large groups of people gathered around the display table just watching the slide show! Or groups going through the notebooks,. And you know they're enjoying all of it because of the "oohs" and "ahhs", and the "I remember that!" comments heard.

The forms that have piled up? Once they are put into proper perspective in my genealogy program, and digitized, I then discard them. I still have the digitized versions, and can easily print one out if I need to for clarification.

What do you do with all of the paperwork that tends to build up with your research? Do you keep all of it? Or just the documents you've had to pay for? Or if you digitize, do you keep any of it? Let us know! We'd love to hear what you do with it all!

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