I have been researching my family history for well over seven years now. During this journey, I have accumulated a lot of paper records. And I must confess that I am a somewhat of a hoarder by nature. Although I do have about 60 percent of my research on my computer, I just can’t let go of my paper records even if I have a scanned copy on my computer. I want to keep what I have printed. And with that said I must also admit that I have absolutely no organization what so ever. I don’t have a dedicated space that where I research. I just take my laptop wherever I’m comfortable at the time. Sometimes it’s the kitchen table, sometimes I research in the living room while watching TV, and other times I research in my bedroom. I have papers scattered all over my house and books everywhere. Whatever I am researching that day is what I gather together. And when it’s time to clean off the table or couch everything goes into piles in a box, a crate, or on the floor. To say this is the worst possible case for my research efforts would be an understatement.
I have been listening to genealogy podcasts this week, and I have been motivated to start organizing my research. But where will I start is the question. I have decided that I am going to gather all of my piles of paper, all my boxes of information, and my many photos and organize them in a better way. I also plan to organize the information I have on my computer. I have scanned a lot of information over the past two years. But I never named the individual scans or organized them in folders that would allow me easier access when I’m looking for documents. I know, I know, this sounds really bad, and in an effort to be complete transparent…it really is as bad as it sounds. But admitting the problem is always the first step. For me, the second step will be to actually put my plan into action.
I would like to think this could be a weekend project, but honestly, it is going to take me a lot longer than a weekend to organize all of it. So I think I will have to do it in phases. I am going to start this weekend by going through all of my paper records. Now I know that some of them I will end up getting rid of. But what I choose to keep I will be putting them in sheet protectors and placing them in binders by an ancestor. I will also create a cover sheet for the front inside of each binder about that ancestor along with my family tree. As for me organizing the documents on my laptop, I think I will use the time I spend in the car when traveling to do that. One road trip to Little Rock should help me to get a good start on that.
I’m hoping once I get started that this process will go fairly fast. But looking at all my piles of paper around the house, I think this may take longer than I want it to. But once this phase of organizing is complete, I will have a system so I can find things much easier which will allow me to better share this journey. And this is why my journey continues….