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Research Organization

I’m sure many, if not most, of you are armchair genealogist like myself. It’s a hobby, a past time, an interest that you do during spare time or when you have an itch for family history… Or when some relative calls you up to clarify their own research or a family story they heard most recently. Something will trigger you & you’re suddenly off seeking out another dead relative.

And like all of us, we have brick walls. Those elusive ancestors we can’t seem to locate,┬ábut KNOW existed. I mean they had to exist or you’d not be here, right? We spend hours pouring over records, clues, hints, & whims.

Before we know it, we have a pile of notes written on various forms of paper. Now, some of you have easily migrated into the digital era & have a wonderfully organized program you use. And though I am not even in my gray aging years, I still prefer paper that I can scratch, scribble, & make notes to my notes :) Yes, I’m one of those… Makes plans to make plans…. Makes notes to my notes. Einstein would love me! How I made it through college is amazing even unto myself :)

So now, with years of research I have massive notes & various systems. I have notebooks all over the place half full of notes. Printed copies of other hints & possibilities, not yet confirmed as true or false. Sticky notes, loose pieces of paper, business cards, etc. I even have a very organized 3-ring binder system with MRIN’s (marriage record index numbers) for each family with facts & artifacts. … And shamefully a file box with various other notes, records, etc that have not yet plugged into my researched ancestors but know these are just waiting to be added…..

Now add a few years hiatus for unexpected child rearing & I can’t find a single thing! I have no real idea where I even left off with my last research endeavor. And did I take the time to file these notes? Not since 3 military moves ago…. Soooooo…..

I started new scrap notes while “on my bum waiting another baby” & realized… I’m an OCD freak with the most unorganized research! I can spot a speak of dust a mile away & total anxiety rushes over me when the knives aren’t where they are supposed to be, but my genealogy research… Total wreck!

I did my google search & found a good article for the simple like-minded genealogists over at Tools for Genealogy Research: Keeping Track of Genealogy Notes by Beth Foulk. Brilliant! One notebook!! And the hard fast rule is that you only use the one notebook :)

So I’ve gone one step further, I have one little notebook that has pre-colored section pages. Here’s an example at Amazon. That way the brick walls I get a whim about & make mindless notes, theories, etc about are in their own colored section. Because let’s face it, you cannot have OCD without ADHD, thus I’m never working or thinking about one ancestor, family, or brick wall at a time. I need to utilize my time when I have it so if I get nowhere with one, I’ll try another.

“But what about the copies & printouts?”, you ask. Yes, about those… One, multiple file folder pocket. Notebook matches file folder. Here’s an example at Amazon, again. So I now have two complete systems because one family is so huge & has required so much research that it’s one notebook for them & one file folder for them. (Thanks Standlee lines!)

I hope this helps many of you, as it has me. Do you have any tricks for organization?

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