Monday, September 02, 2013

All Things Family History

I have done genealogy for years -- absolutely years.  I have never, up until now, figured out how to store and organize all the documentation that goes along with it.  I didn't think up the system on my own, I stole it from somebody on YouTube and, I will say, she did a much better job of it than I have.

I have tried everything from file cabinets to notebooks to folders to electronic programs and nothing seems to work for me as well as I would like.  So, when I went looking for a "new" way to do things, I had an open mind and a good thing, too, because I watched this woman organized her records and was slapped in the face by the simplicity of it all.  Why hadn't I thought of it?

The whole idea is filing documentation, in pendaflex folders in portable, plastic file boxes, by the individual.  Each person in your tree has a folder and whatever information you have on that person goes in his/her file.  They are arranged in the file box just like they appear on your ancestor chart.  By doing it this way you have ready access to whatever you have on any person and you can readily see if you need to find a document to add more information to your tree.  Before I tried keeping all my death/birth certificates (and other documents in like fashion) in one folder labelled as such and I had to sift through all of them in order to find one particular one.  This was time consuming and also meant I handled the documents more than necessary.  Those things are expensive so you really don't want to handle them more than you need to.

Now, the lady on the YouTube video did hers with more panache than I have.  I have been reusing file folders that have been used before, not caring if they were color coordinated.  This lady used blue for her male ancestors and pink for her female ancestors.  It looks really nice when put together but, since I have been going "green" for a while, I saw no sense in repurchasing what I already had. 

As I sat and worked on this today, totally trashing my dining room table, I was amazed at the amount of information I have amassed on all those who went before me.  A good deal of it I had forgotten I had.  I was surprised at some of the information and was able to add it to my tree on right away before I filed it away.  I discovered some copies of pictures that I mulled over for a while -- I never knew these relatives but I feel like I do.  I finally feel like I am getting all my information in some sort of workable order.  Genealogy is a great hobby but, when you get past the four or five generations, the volume of information becomes almost uncontrollable and almost takes on a life of its own.  I feel like I might actually have a shot at taming the beast with this system.  In the new system, it will be so nice to be able to pull a folder and look over the contents without having to sort through tons of material to find something.  Yes, I think this will work.

I have abandoned the project for the evening -- the dust from the paper is making my nose run and I don't need that -- so tomorrow is another day and I will continue then.  I don't want to rush through this process, I want to enjoy it and relish the past.  My mother always chastised my dad for "living in the past" and I guess, to some extent, I do the same but some days, the past is just the place I need to be.