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As I begin to digitize/collect data and store them onto my computer, I wonder if anyone has methodology or tips on how to organize the information on the hard drives. I'm interested to hear how folders/directories are organized and file naming conventions.


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Hi Rob,

I'm sure there are better ways, but I have everything in one folder. From there, I have family lines, broken into my grands and great-grands, etc. These secondary folders are ONLY those to whom I am a descendant. For instance, my g-g-g-grandparents are John Thirolf and Katie Heilweck. They had five children. I have all their info in one folder. But their son Gabriel married Katherina Anselmann and are my g-g-grandparents. so they have their own folder, beginning on the day of their marriage, and including all six of their children. On the day their daughter Mary married, she and Peter were now a new line in-and-of-themselves, so a new folder was begun and so-on.... I have other miscellaneous folders for items which are questions or unknowns, and a separate folder for new items scanned. If records cross over into both sides, or different families, I usually copy into the multiple folders, or in the case of general church records, I don't specify a subfolder, but rather keep them alphabetically in the main 1FamilyHistory folder.

I'm probably confusing you further, but hope the graphic helps to clear it up a bit. One thing I do for certain is capitalize each last name in each folder, and then when inside, I capitalize the children's first names. I find it is easy to spot whomever I need, quickly. Good luck!



I have only been doing this for less than a year, so I don't have that much "clutter" yet. Even though I am a computer software engineer, I really don't like messing a lot with computers, to be honest. I have an old-fashioned file drawer and I have old-fashioned manilla folders for Collins - "the Humphreys" Collins - "the Larrys" (two different sets of Collins) McCarthy Hurley Hourihane Driscoll etc. The "anchors" of my research are my Irish Granddad and Grandmom, so in "the Humphreys" goes Granddad's complete family tree charts, and in "the Larrys" goes Grandmom's complete family tree charts. I put smaller sub-charts in related families.

In these folders I put copies of any BMD records, census records, Griffiths valuation pages, etc, that I may obtain. Since this is Ireland genealogy, and once in a while I subscribe and take a look at the Irish news archives, I also put in these folders any news clippings that might be relevant to my family. Any people I am unsure about get tossed into a big miscellaneous pile.

A special category of paper that I file is correspondence. Whatever notes I write down from talking to relatives, any significant email I get, all gets printed out and put into a manila folder. I just don't trust computers and the Internet.

I keep some census records on computer devices. When I go to the Family History Center, I take along my portable USB drive. On there I have a folder called 1901Census and within that I name the household image files by townland, surname, and a number. So for the Hurleys in Coolnagarrane, I have two image files since I found two families living there:


I would have obviously had the option of creating sub-folders by townland but I don't like clicking and drilling down and I like the flatter file system because I can see everything at a glance. I was in a mode in which I was grabbing all records that could be relevant to piecing together my family tree, so there are a lot of images and the flatter file system makes sense.

If I see a one-off record of interest or a small cluster of records of interest from the family history center films, I will create a folder for it, to make it stand out, and put those image files in that folder. So on my USB drive I have a folder called "HumphreyCollinsBirth" and the image file it contains is called humphreyCollins1875.tif. Some guy born in 1875 and nobody in my family has ANY IDEA how he fits into the scheme of things, so I put him in a special place for identification later.

That USB drive gets backed up to my computer's hard drive.

I have a web page on which I keep family documents so my cousins can check it out. Although I keep those files in a single directory, I admit it's getting cluttered and messy and the file names are inconsistent. The reason why I haven't taken the initiative to clean it up is because I am concerned about having to take it down. I am not sure if putting old birth, marriage, and death certificates or putting up pages from the old Griffiths Valuation or putting up ancient newspaper clippings aren't a violation of some copyright that I am not aware of. So most of the stuff on that page might get torn down and I will probably just leave up the family tree charts and save the family documents for a more massive scrapbook.

The one thing that is an issue with me is keeping a log of my research. For that I have started a blog, and it's helpful for me personally to review the progress I've made. In my blog entries I always list the film numbers I've ordered along with volume and page number references, in case I forget to take something out to the family history center. That way I can always run over to a computer and just look at my blog to figure out what I am trying to find.

I use Master Genealogist to maintain a database and make charts, and I use image editing software.

I am going to have to have everything super-organized by summer, because I will be hitting the National Library and the National Archives in Dublin this summer and have to know exactly what I am looking for.

That's about it, so far.





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