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Sailing Out Of The Genealogy Bermuda Triangle

Ok, a small break from the hunting of my dead people to make a point & answer a friend on how to file or organize your family records & information.

Organization is ABSOLUTELY key in keeping your research safe & productive. Without it, you are basically stuck in the Bermuda Triangle of Genealogy: lost in a sea of papers forever….often resulting in inaccurate connections, missing people, & a lot of retracing your steps.

There are many ways to organize your records. However, the most complete & well thought out design is the MRIN Filing System. I learned this system in my classes, and I REFUSE to go back, no matter how many people (or software programmers) think it is unnecessary. I can locate any ancestor, their information, & their records in about 2 seconds flat! Beat that Google! LOL!

A good genealogy software program (like Legacy for PC users) will have an MRIN (Marriage Record Index Number) usually already preset. How it works is the first marriage that you enter will get the number 1, the second one you enter (usually the first set’s parents) will get number 2, and so on. Eventually you can really add up & have over 100+ MRIN’s!

If a child never married, he/she will always be located with the parents’ MRIN. So you never have a missing person… ever!

NOTE- some software programs are addressing monogamous same sex relationships, and this may not be a MRIN but a way to enter your own ID numbers.

Once you have entered your information in your program you can usually then create & print a list of those individuals in your tree with their MRIN’s in alphabetical order. This ultimately becomes your index.

Next you start with a 3 ring binder, page protectors (acid free so they don’t ruin originals or photos, I absolutely don’t recommend hole punching anything!), a set of tabs… & off you go. You will print the Family Group Sheet for your first marriage, number 1. Then you will put this family behind tab number 1, along with any records you might have for them. Keep going until you have done this for all of your MRIN’s.

Don’t worry that they aren’t in order or not alphabetical. When you look at your ancestor print out (index), they are listed alphabetically!

I know some of my genealogy friends & colleagues have so much more than a few binders, so a few opted for using the same system, but in a filing cabinet instead of a binder.

The reason this is better than by surname… well the obvious… some of my surnames have over 1,000 individuals in them! I can’t keep that together & expect to find what I am looking for. The MRIN Filing System allows me to locate an INDIVIDUAL & his/her info quickly.

Here is another good article that also describes this system:


4 responses »

  1. Mickey Len [Buckingham] Quintrall

    Amy, I’m intreged by your aunt’s story of Robert Edwin Buckingham, and his non-existant being prior to 1918. He was my great grandfather – my grand father was Howard Enis Buckingham and my father was James Robert Buckingham…..and I have 8 brothers and sisters. Some our last names are “Quintrall” because my father used his step-father’s name to join the service under-age.

    I have just recently decided to put together the family tree…..and hit a brick wall with Robert Edwin Buckingham. When I read your story I did a little research and found that there was no conscription in ENgland until 1916 – so there would have been no penalty for not joining the English army… I thought maybe he was a deserter……but without a REAL name to associate, no luck. I also thought of contactinting the immigration prison in Lincoln….but the same goes: what was his REAL name. Have ytou any other clues? May I have copies of pics and documents you have? Cheers! Mick

    • Mickey- nice to chat! I think you message board me on ancestry but I got side tracked…again :) Please forgive me?

      I have done nothing more with this Robert Buckingham. I dropped this side of my family’s research after my Grands passed (her family).

      Then if you read my blog, I’m rebuilding starting with only the Lees (hubby’s) family this year. However, let’s stay connected. I’m very curios! He’s another brick wall I’ll have to break open… & ask a relative about that finds sharing even more heartbreaking than I do :)

      Have you talked to Rex Buckingham?

  2. Cherie Cayemberg

    Did you take Karen’s class through MPC?!?! I feel the same way. I love the MRIN system. It’s simple, it’s clean and should be universal. Enjoying the blog and your profile was great! Looking forward to more!

    • Yes, I did take classes with Karen at MPC! And I agree… I think for professionals it is a universal filing system… just so many people are growing their interest in family history research since this whole, “Who Do You Think You Are?”… thus many people trying to accommodate this growth has landed us with a mess of software options lacking the professional tools truly needed… so is my theory :D


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