Thursday, January 9, 2020
Day 9: Organize Your Other File Drawers
When it comes to genealogy, there are hanging folder people, and binder people, and people who do both. Personally, I'm more of a hanging folder person. Whatever physical storage medium you use, the organizational principles work the same, but I'll use hanging files in my examples here. We've already organized the closest file drawer. How do you organize all the rest of the paper?
At the highest level, you may have one or more file cabinets. The ones that contain things you use a lot should be close at hand, the ones that contain things you rarely use should be farthest away (even in another room, attic, basement, or garage). Again, here I'm not talking about important papers, as those need to be in archival-safe storage containers, and kept cool, dark, and dry. I'm talking about papers that could be recreated as needed (such as copies printed out from online images).
Depending upon how much paper you have, you might have different file drawers for different ancestral lines (one or more drawers for the maternal side, one or more for the paternal side, unless there is some likelihood that your two main lines might be related). You'll then be organizing alphabetically by surname, perhaps by using drawer dividers to separate each surname. Then you'll want a hanging folder for a particular individual, so that you can keep all of the documents for that person together, arranged chronologically.
If you're just getting started here, then create surname sections for your 8 great-grandparent surname lines, and create individual folders for yourself, your parents, your grandparents, and your great-grandparents. After that you can create the additional surname sections and individual folders as needed.
You may want to use another file drawer for things that aren't about individuals, such as maps or local history articles. These can be organized into hanging folders by country, state/province, and county or other geographic subdivision. You may need yet another drawer for organizations, software, or pretty much anything else that isn't about specific ancestors.