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Organizing Your Paper Files - Second Lesson

It doesn't take long once you have started your genealogy adventure to collect so much information that it seems hard to handle. Dealing with information overload is handled through systematic organization of materials.

Most researchers have tried numerous systems for organizing. There is not one system that works for everyone. We will feature several systems in this newsletter. The first lesson was published in Legacy News in February 2006 and can be read here. If you have a method that works well for you, please let us know.

One of our dedicated Legacy users, Mary Brenzel, offered to share the system she uses. Please direct any questions directly to her:


First, you may wish to view/print the pictures of my “records” file box showing an overall view and a more close-up view of some of the hanging folder labels.  In addition, I’ve included pictures of 2 sample documents. View them here:

File folders

File folders - close up

Document in sleeve, labeled

Census document in sleeve, labeled

Each document type is sorted by location and type, with a few exceptions.  Because of the ability to place labels on the hanging folders in a variety of positions, I’ve aligned the labels for the same document types.  For example –






In the above example, there are no marriage records for Macomb County, Michigan so there is no label in that location.  This leaves it open for if / when they might be found and added to the files.

Records for countries are stored first, followed by U.S. States.  All of this is alphabetical.  For example, Devon, England is before Lancashire, England which is before Somerset, England.  France would be after England and then Germany.  Connecticut is before Florida; Macomb County, Michigan is before Oakland County, Michigan.

From front to back, my file box is organized like this –

ENGLAND, BATH (with folders for the different document types)

All of my documents, whether prints of census pages from or certified copies of vital records are stored in archival safe and acid free sheet protectors.  I use a label maker to label each document, placing the label on the upper right of the sheet protector.  The sheet protectors are placed in the appropriate file folder with the 3-holes at the top, keeping the labels visible for easy retrieval.

Now for the actual document labels.  I will give you examples for each of the types I currently have organized with the file folder labels first.

        ENG DEVON BIR 001
        ENG DEVON BIR 002

       ENG DEVON BAP 001
       ENG DEVON BAP 002

       ENG DEVON MAR 001
       ENG DEVON MAR 002

       ENG DEVON DEA 001
       ENG DEVON DEA 002

       ENG DEVON CEN 001
       ENG DEVON CEN 002

       MI MACOMB MIL 001
       MI MACOMB MIL 002

At this time, I have only 1 exception to the above system.  That is the Social Security Death Index.  All of those records are filed together regardless of where the number was issued, where the person last resided or died.  These documents are labeled as SSDI 001, SSDI 002, etc.

Lastly, here’s how I use it in Legacy.  I use the document label as the FILE ID value in the Source Detail when I source the data, except that the country or state is spelled out.  For example, my grandmother was born in Devon, England.  The document for her birth record is ENG DEVON BIR 001 as shown in one of my pictures.  The last attachment shows the source detail screen for her birth in Legacy.  The FILE ID is ENGLAND DEVON BIR 001.

The beauty of this system is that multiple people can have the same document referenced on Source Details for different types of data in Legacy.  I can cite 2 examples.  1)  I have multiple census images with multiple families on the page.  All members of all families on the page would get the same FILE ID assigned on the Source Detail for the Census Event.  2)  My grandparents’ marriage record from the Catholic Church is labeled as NY ERIE MAR 002.  That FILE ID is on their marriage source detail is NEW YORK ERIE MAR 002.  The witnesses to the marriage are members of the family.  A “witness” event is entered for each of the witnesses with the same sourcing information and NY ERIE MAR 002.

Lastly, the documents within the folders do not have to be stored in a particular order.  As you get a new one, once it is recorded in Legacy, it can be filed away at the back of the file folder for that location / document type behind all of the others of its type.

This is all really quite simple.  I hope that you are able to understand it.  Please let me know if you have any additional questions.


Thanks Mary for sharing your experiences with all of us!

Is Your Password Good Enough?

Is your password good enough? I doubt it. If someone steals your laptop or home computer they can gain access to all of your protected files in less than an hour if you’ve been skimping on password security. If you want a password that is essentially uncrackable it needs to be at least 11 characters long, include numbers, and have mixed upper and lower case characters. For additional security include spaces or other punctuation and for super-duper extra security include one of the symbols available on the number keys. These recommendations are especially important for files that you store on your computer or that you send over the Internet (email, ftp, etc.).

Continue reading . . .

1841 UK Census now online

The 1841 UK Census has officially launched. This means that Ancestry has completed all of the UK Censuses 1841-1901 for England, Wales, Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands.

Here's what this new content means for you

  • Search 16 million names in the earliest standardized England & Wales census, the first census in British history that includes more than just a statistical count
  • Discover fascinating details about your British ancestors' birthplaces, homes, immediate family members, occupations and more
  • View authentic images (more than 40,000 total) of census records that may contain handwritten information about people in your family line

Start searching the following collections now

1841 England Census

1841 Wales Census

1841 Isle of Man Census

1841 Channel Islands Census

I hope you are not doing U.S. research without this . . .

When I first began my research, I looked in the records of Franklin County, Idaho for the birth of my great-grandfather, who was born in 1890 in a small area called Mink Creek. I wasn't very successful because at the time, Mink Creek was not located in Franklin County. In fact, Franklin did not even exist at the time.

Had I known about AniMap, I never would have looked in the wrong jurisdiction. AniMap allowed me to plot Mink Creek on the map, select the desired year, and it showed me what Idaho's county boundaries looked like in 1890. Mink Creek was definitely in Oneida County. However, changing to the modern map's boundaries, I understood the mistake I made. Today, Mink Creek is in Franklin County, but records of his birth would have been in the old county.

If you are doing research without understanding the right jurisdictions for the time period, your research may end with a brick wall.

AniMap also:

  • measures the distances between two places
  • performs radius searches
  • provides lists of cemeteries or other places within a county or state
  • creates migration maps
  • displays overlays of rivers/streams, townships/ranges, railroads

Watch a FREE video preview of AniMap by clicking here.

New update available for AniMap 2.6 users

A new file is now available on the AniMap update page. A new version of COMAPS.EXE fix a couple of problems plus allowing space for future expansions of the information in the county database.

Visit the update page at The files on this page will only work with AniMap version 2.6 or higher (there isn't one higher yet).

Once you have downloaded the file, cut an paste it into the main AniMap folder. If you have done this correctly, Windows will give you a message asking if you want to replace the old COMAPS.EXE with the new one. Click on OK and you are done.

Those who do not have AniMap 2.6 can upgrade for $39.50 plus $3.00 shipping/Handling. To order, go to and click on the AniMap Upgrade link.

AniMap Video Preview

Millennia Corporation, developers of Legacy Family Tree, have created a video preview of AniMap. View the demonstration at

Also learn more about AniMap by clicking here.

Genelines for Legacy: It's About Time!

Genelines_1 Genelines is a timeline charting companion for Legacy that lets you place the names and events of your family's past into historical context. These unique charts set a new standard for family historians, allowing you to illustrate biographical or relationship information for individuals or ancestral groups in a meaningful way. You see their lives in time, in relation to each other, personal life events and the local, regional and world stage events they experienced.

Genelines lets you create seven customizable timeline charts, including:

Individual Biographical Chart. A biographical chart for a selected ancestor that depicts the chronology of customized life event categories such as occupation, health, residence, etc.

Comparative Biographical Chart. An age-based biographical chart comparing the life events of two or more chosen individuals.

Pedigree Chart. A relationship chart showing an individual's ancestors for a chosen number of generations against the backdrop of a timeline.

Direct Line Chart. A relationship chart depicting a single family line between a chosen individual and direct descendant (or ancestor) against the backdrop of a timeline.

Family Group Chart. A relationship chart depicting the children, spouses and parents of a chosen individual against the backdrop of a timeline.

Fan Chart. A relationship chart that portrays a person's pedigree in the form of an open fan, or half circle. The Fan chart has curved boxes linked by generation, showing the ancestors' year of birth across a time line.

Full Descendant Chart. A relationship chart displays linked life bars for all descendants of a chosen subject, for as many generations selected and available in your data file.

Key Features of Genelines for Legacy:

  • Reads Legacy data files directly: no need to export to GEDCOM format
  • Provides seven unique, fully customizable chart styles
  • Allows you to create and modify your own historical events and timelines
  • Comes with a library of timeline files. More are available free online
  • Displays charts in full color
  • Provides on-screen manipulation of chart colors and graphics
  • Prints charts in a full range of sizes. Insert into publications, or print as wall charts
  • Estimates and visually points out unknown date, making it easy to see where more research is needed
  • Makes it easy to see illogical or contradictory data
  • Can display multiple family lines on one chart, and correct duplicate names from cousin marriages
  • FREE unlimited support available by e-mail and telephone

To learn more, to see sample charts, or to purchase, visit

New - Google Page Creator

Google Page Creator is a free online tool that makes it easy for anyone to create and publish useful, attractive web pages in just minutes.

  • No technical knowledge required. Build high-quality web pages without having to learn HTML or use complex software.
  • What you see is what you'll get. Edit your pages right in your browser, seeing exactly how your finished product will look every step along the way.
  • Don't worry about hosting. Your web pages will live on your own site at

Google Page Creator is a Google Labs project, and is still in an early testing phase. If you're interested in taking it for a test drive, login with your Gmail account to begin making pages. If you don't have a Gmail account yet, you can sign up.

Sign up, or learn more at

Scotland 1841 census now online

ScotlandsPeople has been busy. Just three weeks ago they announced that the records and indexes for the 1851 census were published online.

Today they announced that the indexes and records of the 1841 census are now online. This census was the first to record information on individuals and may include the following:

  • names
  • sex
  • address
  • occupation
  • whether they were born in the county

Access the new census at

Legacy's Research Guidance

Legacy's Research Guidance tool analyzes the information you have entered about an ancestor, and then creates a prioritized To Do List for you. The next update of Research Guidance will make it easier than ever to identify those persons who may be listed in these newly-available censuses.

Getting Started in Irish Genealogy

Those with Irish ancestry know that its research provides unique challenges. If you're just beginning your Irish research, or need a refresher course, you'll be excited to hear about a new, online presentation offered by the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society just announced a new, free video presentation entitled "Getting Started in Irish Genealogy." The free presentation lasts about 16 minutes and covers the following:

  • Getting Started
  • Start with yourself
  • Keep a wide focus
  • Census records
  • Other records
  • Records with birthplaces
  • Naturalization records
  • Post-1906 passenger records
  • Gravestone inscriptions
  • Newspaper records
  • Military records
  • Court records
  • Business records
  • and a reading list

To view the presentation, visit