Hi. My name is Geoff Rasmussen. And I am a genealogy hoarder.
That was hard to write....I finally gave in to my wife and agreed to go through some of my boxes.
Under the table to the right of my desk was an open-lid box that had sat there since we moved into this home nearly eight years ago. When she asked what was in it, I started to tell her, but then realized that I had no answer. But it was there for a reason, I was sure of it!
In the box were items of obvious historical nature - dozens of genealogy conference name tags I had saved, receipts (which of course documented where I was on a certain date - great for my personal timeline, right?), and a collection of Civil War pension files I had obtained in my early years of genealogy research. And I hate to admit it, but am proud to say that several months ago I agreed to shred my last 10 years of telephone and utility bills. As a genealogist I felt these would easily document where I was living, and little about my living conditions. Certainly my future descendants would care. I did scan a couple of them though.
Emptying the box was not as difficult as I thought it would be though because of the nature of my personal genealogy filing system. I would show you a picture of my bookshelves with the dozens of binders but they are now in boxes as we are preparing to move to another state (I finally agreed it's just too hot here in Phoenix. Don't worry, I'll still be with Legacy!). Each of the documents in the box belonged to a different ancestor, and because my filing system allows me to file or retrieve anything in a matter of seconds, it was not long before I had emptied the box. I felt better and so did my wife. I'm actually anxious to go through the next one now.
One thing I have always believed in is that it is difficult to know what you know about your genealogy unless it is organized. While I do have a few stray boxes, I can say most of my genealogy is fairly organized. I can locate nearly any document (or digital image for that matter) in under a minute. Most of my documents have also been digitized and because of my digital filing system I can locate the images pretty quickly too.
If you have a good system that works for you (and for the person who takes over your system someday) then stick with it. If not, below are a few resources.
- FamilyRoots Organizer System by Mary Hill. This explains the color-coding filing system that works well with Legacy Family Tree.
- Organizing for Success by Karen Clifford. This explains the filing system that works with Legacy's MRINs. My personal favorite.
- Organizing and Sharing Digital Images by Geoff Rasmussen.
- Digital Images: Scanning, Digitizing, Editing, and Preserving Your Photos by Geoff Rasmussen.
Articles from our blog
- Organizing Your Paper Files - Color-Coding (goes with the FamilyRoots Organizer System above)
- Organizing Your Paper Files (goes with the Organizing for Success system above)
- Organizing Your Paper Files - Second Lesson (a system used by Legacy user, Mary Brenzel)
- E-Z File System (a system used by Legacy user, Connie Spindel)
Tune in to Friday's webinar
This Friday I will be presenting Researching with Geoff - Live! as a free webinar. Although I don't know the final destination that the impromtu style will take us, I am certain that I will demonstrate how to scan a document, explain where to organize it in my digital filing system, talk about the organization of my master source list, use my To Do List to organize my research, and more. While I am sure my personal system doesn't work for every genealogist, maybe there will be an idea or two that you can take with you. Register at https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/276171942.