Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Joys of (Re)-Filing

I spent most of the day reorganizing some of my files. I've recently begun trying a new system of filing that really seems to be helping me put my fingers on those documents that pertain to more than one family by filing them geographically and then by record type. I've got a few other twists on other types of documents that I'm using. As I've been going through my file folders, 3-prong notebooks, etc., I've run across several things that I had been unable to locate via my old system. I've also looked at some correspondence from early in my research that has yielded clues that may actually be useful in my current research on one of my families.

When I have been looking over my Taylor research, I knew that I had researched Cora Potter who had been taken in by my great-great grandfather Stephen Taylor in 19th century McLean County, Illinois. I had been unable to locate her information in my Taylor surname file, and I could not find a Potter file. I'd failed to record the research in my database although I could remember that her married name was Shoemake(r). When I found my research in an unmarked folder that contained mostly the research on Cora but had a few other miscellaneous items, I decided to at least make some notes in my database that would help me locate what I had found on her along with another family that was also headed by a Frank and Kora. (My Cora's husband was Louis or Lewis Francis "Frank" Sho(e)maker.) I made a note about the similarly named family along with my observations on why this was not "my" Frank and Cora in the 1920 census. All the documents are now filed in places where I should be able to locate them.

Another discovery was made by glancing over some correspondence on my Aldridge line that I had actually forgotten over the years. I had corresponded with a lady in Indiana who was descended from Francis Aldridge, a brother of Prince William and Isham Aldridge who ended up settling in northwestern Alabama. As I glanced through the correspondence, I noted that Francis had served in the Revolutionary War. I don't know why I had not paid attention to that fact years ago. I can only say that it was early in my research and that I either planned to get around to it one day or that I didn't realize the value of checking the pension files of siblings back then. I logged onto and had soon saved and printed off Francis' pension file. I haven't reviewed it all yet because I knew I needed to focus on my filing project, but I'm very hopeful that it will yield further clues about my Aldridge family that have been unknown by me up to this point. By the way, Francis was living in Pulaski County, Kentucky at the time his pension was granted. He served for North Carolina.

I'm excited to see what other "finds" or "rediscoveries" that I will make as I continue this filing project. It's hard to make yourself keep filing and leave the new leads alone until the filing for the day is done. However, the end result should be better organization of my documentation.


tajicat said...

Would you share your new filing system? I really need help in getting organized and wondered how you are doing it. Thanks :)

Lori Thornton said...

Basically, my main problem was that I had things that pertained to multiple families, but they would be filed under one of the surnames. Sometimes if I did research on more than one family group that lived in the same area, it would be difficult to think about which surname folder it might be in. I had geographic folders, but it was just a big folder for the county that had county history info, etc., but very few records. Now my main system is geographic. I will have multiple folders per county because I will group record types together. For example, I might have ILLINOIS-MCLEAN-CENSUS, ILLINOIS-MCLEAN-LAND, ILLINOIS-MCLEAN-MARRIAGE. Then inside these folders, I'll have them arranged in the order in which they appear in actual records. (For example deed book 1, pages 323-324 would come before deed book 6, pages 227-228.) If I have enough deeds to require multiple folders, I'll split them into multiple ones. Some counties will end up with lots of folders for the different record types. I still have surname folders for things that only pertain to one surname and which involve multiple counties. I also have some narrative reports I've done on families this way. I also have other records like pensions filed separately. I have periodical articles filed by the title of the periodical in which they appeared. I am trying to do some indexing of the periodical articles as I file. As I index the articles, I am noting how they are filed.