Proper family history organization is the foundation of every successful genealogist. Whether that means having a squeaky clean office, carefully color-coded file folders or a digitized and dutifully labeled hard drive, having all of your materials systemized and searchable will make your genealogy research more efficient and effective. But how exactly, you may ask, do I reach this paradise of of perfectly organized genealogy? When a family member dumps a mountain of historical family photos on your front doorstep, how can you possibly keep them in order while still finding time to maintain your family research? With this free e-book, we’ve done our best to provide you with the right guides, tutorials and cheat sheets to help you organize your family history, once and for all.
This e-book contains some of Family Tree Magazine’s best tried and true tips for organizing your family history, including articles on space-saving strategies, organizational habits, sample filing systems and ideas for how to arrange your genealogy workspace, as well a research calendar form and a biographical outline. Together this collection stands as a comprehensive guide to finally finding a place for all those piles of paper and miscellaneous digital files: Family Tree Tips: 23 Secrets to Organize Your Genealogy.
What’s Inside Your Free E-book?
Claim your copy of Family Tree Tips: 23 Secrets to Organize Your Genealogy to get six guides that will help you appropriately arrange your family archive.
Guide #1: 8 Space-Saving Strategies for Your Genealogy
Whether it’s going paperless or placing family photos in archival albums or storage containers, this graphic diagram will help you make the most of the space in your home office. Download digitized books to reduce the space taken up by large reference materials, set up a filing system for your genealogy, and more.
Guide #2: 9 Habits of Highly Organized Genealogists
Over time, every genealogist has to confront the issue of organization, but the sheer number of ways to organize (and amount of material we collect) can make starting and implementing an organization method intimidating. So we asked our Family Tree Magazine readers to share their best advice and organizational methods to save us from getting buried under mounds of family photos, vital records certificates, census page printouts, family tree charts and other records. We learned a few new tricks from the nine strategies that emerged, and hope you will, too.
Guide #3: Top Two Filing Systems at a Glance
Genealogy filing systems can be as varied as the individuals who employ them—after all, the key to organization success is using the method that works for you. But many genealogists’ schemes are rooted in two tried-and-true systems: filing by surname and record type, or filing by ancestral couple (and their children, or “family group”). Use this guide to compare these two systems to see which one best fits your working style.
Guide #4: 6 Expert Ideas to Organize Your Genealogy Workspace
Believe it or not, professional genealogists confront the same organizational obstacles as the hobbyist family historian. From tips for arranging your genealogy bookshelf to color-coding suggestions, Family Tree Magazine contributors such as Lisa Louise Cooke and Thomas MacEntee offer their top tricks for keeping research materials orderly.
Guide #5: Research Calendar Form
Use this Research Calendar to note the records you’ve checked for ancestral clues. Fill out the header with the name of your ancestor, his or her locality, time period and a brief problem statement. You can then list out places, such as websites and libraries, where you’ve carried out searches, making it easier to revisit these sources at a later time.
Guide #6: Biographical Outline Form
Use this Biographical Outline to record information on your ancestors’ education, military service, marriage, children, illnesses, religious milestones, migrations, residences, jobs, family events, land purchases, court appearances, deaths and burials, etc. Having all of this information stored conveniently in once place will make it easier to create a timeline of your ancestor’s life, as well as help you to better connect and trace their major life events.
How to Decide What to Organize
Once you’ve identified some organizational goals, set aside an afternoon and compile all of your paper-based genealogy materials. Whether you have one small box or 10 big boxes, no matter. Just pull it all into your working space.
Next, you’re going to assess what you own. This isn’t a detailed assessment, but rather a chance (and for some this may be your first time) to see all of your genealogy papers in one place. For now, just get a sense of what you own. Look for:
- genealogy books
- boxes of photos
- a file cabinet filled with unfiled papers
- digital files you’ve printed
- e-mails you’ve printed
- family mementos
- old scrapbooks
- photo albums
- county histories
- history books
- research tossed in a box
Next, do the same assessment with your digital files:
- digital files
- census records
- information found on websites
- important family sites you’ve bookmarked
The goal here isn’t to log what you own (we’ll tackle that in a later lesson). For now, all you’re doing is getting a sense of what you own.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Does your “stuff” fall into just a few categories or many categories?
- Is most of your material on paper or digital?
- Are there more photos than anything else?
- Is there one surname that stands out above the others?
- Are you drawn to one type of record more than the others?
The object is to use this “what I own” technique to help decide which areas of your family tree you want to organize first. Also, once you see everything you own, you can start building your priority list of short-term goals.
It’s up to you whether you want to do a very small project first (for example, the surname about which you have the least information) or a large project, like all of your photos. The choice is yours.
You’ll find many more hints like these inside the free e-book. Download Family Tree Tips: 23 Secrets to Organize Your Genealogy now to get started cleaning up your family history research.
Download Family Tree Tips: 23 Secrets to Organize Your Genealogy, and Get Much More
In addition to your Family Tree Tips: 23 Secrets to Organize Your Genealogy e-book, you’ll also receive unfettered access to the extensive genealogy community at Family Tree University and Family Tree Magazine. Your free membership in the online community includes:
- Access to our blogs, tips and online genealogy strategies
- Select content from Family Tree Magazine, America’s #1 family history magazine
- Free Family Tree University Bugle newsletters, which outline essential tricks to enrich your family history education
- Special deals on upcoming Family Tree University courses, workshops, webinars and virtual conferences
- A link to an exciting Genealogy Community
Family Tree University, the online genealogy education program from the publishers of Family Tree Magazine, makes learning how to trace your family tree fun and rewarding. You can complete lessons on your own schedule with our 4-week courses, watch video presentations and demonstrations while interacting with experts in our 1-week workshops, or interact with the greater genealogy community in a virtual conference. Join us now to give your genealogy research a boost — and get your download of Surnames: Family Search Tips and Surname Origins!