Methods With Which to Organize Your Research (Part 1)
At the end of today’s lesson I am posting a few links to resources I like. But don’t feel obligated to my suggestions, google will be your friend(?) and give you more options than you can shake a stick at.
A: Good old fashioned pen and paper. Some of the links I am providing are for what’s called “Family Group Sheets.” I use them, they are awesome. They are kind of self explanatory for how to fill them in when you see them, and each one records different facts, but an overview: Mom & Dad at the top, with room for their names, birth dates and location, marriage date, death date. Occupation, parents names, etc. Then a list of their children, with room for birth dates and location, marriage date, death date. A good Family Group Sheet will also have space for you to make source notations. If you are of a particular faith (Mormon and Jewish especially), there are family group sheets specifically designed for you.
Pros: 1) Safer from identity theft. No-one can hack into your filing cabinet from half the world away. 2) Good as a backup system, again, protected from hard drive failures, stolen laptops, etc. 3) Can be a lot easier to work with than digital files. I keep my binder open on my desk so I can look at while researching, and make notes. Also it means I have one less program open when I already have 12 tabs I’m bouncing between in my web browser.
Cons: 1) If all your research is in hard copy, and you go to an archive, you have to haul it all along. I have 7 three-ring binders for my family group sheets. Ummmmm yeah, maybe not. Taking my laptop is much easier! 2) Paper can be damaged, lost and destroyed. Fire, flood, disorganization, a cup of coffee knocked over by the cat.
Why I use paper files / family group sheets: 1) It’s easier for me to use when researching and making notes than software. 2) I write Facts in pen and Unknowns in pencil, so it’s EASY to see what I don’t know or what needs confirmation. If I have a birth certificate for Great Uncle Bob, I write the date of birth from that record onto my sheet in pen. If I only know he died “sometime around 1973” I write 1973 in pencil I instantly know it needs to be researched, and it’s easy to correct when I find proof of the right date.