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: