Genealogy Wise

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I have no filing system for all my information.  Right now, every surname has a folder and everything is in that folder.  It is past time to move to the next level.  I have thought about creating a system, but is there a "standard" system I should be using?  I don't want to put a lot of time into creating a system and then, a year after it is completed, realize that it doesn't "work" or I should have done something differently.

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The right system is the one which works for you. The idea of filing everything to do with a surname in the same place has its merits. However, folders can quickly become overflowing if one is not careful. Another method, popular among a lot of people is to use binders. This method can have one binder per surname. Or, you can start with one binder for several surnames, expanding the binders as the information under a particular surname grows.

Additionally, you can use a combination of the two methods: binders for copies of important documentation; e.g., death and birth certificates, etc., and file folders for notes, printouts, etc.
I have a friend who has organized her research into surname binders. Within the binder she color codes the extended families. At the front of each binder section, she has printed off a map of the area for that family's time frame so that she can see at a glance any changes in state/county/town lines. Her book is easy to read and very manageable. This may or may not work for larger family collections, but it is a start.

The main thing is to start with what you feel comfortable with. Yes, you may decide down the line that you need to make some changes, but you will be more organized at that point and have a better idea of what you need to make it more effective for your needs.

Some people organize their files on the computer, which is good, but remember--computers have been known to crash so it is good to have a back up :)

Ditto what Barbara and Sally said. 

"The right system is the one which works for you."

"The main thing is to start with what you feel comfortable with....make it more effective for your needs."


When I first started, I was using virtually No system at all until I decided.  What I ended up with was an almost unmanageable mess.          This system has changed my life! I recommend it highly.



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