Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Friday, June 03, 2016

Genealogical Filing Systems Over the Years

When I first began doing genealogy years ago, I had little rhyme or reason to my filing. I had a bunch of folders that had paper in them. They were roughly sorted by "broad" family groups.

I quickly discovered that didn't work very well and broke them into smaller groups and into counties and such.

I think I visited a cousin who was into scrapbooking and saw the merits of notebooks. I created notebooks for most of the families. I made individual and/or family group sheets for each person. I filed documents pertaining to each behind the sheet. Unfortunately that didn't really work either, but for a long time I really didn't know a better way to do it. I still had a lot of stuff in folders that never made it to the new system. I probably began filing in either the notebook or a folder.

When talking with another genealogist, I learned his system was filing by the record. So if it was Monroe County, Mississippi Deeds, with his system, I'd put them in a folder (or folders) arranged so book 1 deeds were inserted by pages, then book 2, then book 3, etc. This meant that as long as I had my citation, I could find them. Correspondence folders could be arranged by the correspondent instead of by the family or families to which they pertained, which really helped when it came to e-mails that covered multiple families. Although I've begun rearranging my folders, I've got a long way to go on the project.

You may wonder why I chose to post on this topic. It's really simple. I planned a post to discuss evidence and reach a conclusion based on the genealogical proof standard. Additional information came to my attention tonight. It doesn't seem all that reliable on the surface, but it adds a new twist, and I need to look at documents again that are under multiple filing systems in my house. I cannot even remember which records are in some of those older files that may not be in my database. If certain ones are not present, I need to retrieve those from several locations before the reasonable exhaustive search has been made. Most of the documents I need will be in Monroe or Itawamba County, Mississippi or Fayette County, Alabama. Some may not exist, but I need to be certain of that and make sure that my search has been written up so I don't forget what I've done. It's been a long time since I really worked on this line (until recently), and it is finally being written up as it should have been 20 years ago.

We all need to revisit our old research and make sure it meets standards. I find that too much reliance on a database is not good for me. I do use one, but I need to write research reports to myself and then write a documented narrative. That is what works best for me!

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