Genealogy is a very popular pastime, especially since there are so many information sources available online in addition to traditional family photo albums, bibles, and so on. Plus, it can be fascinating to put together your family tree and discover your origins. If you're interested in this hobby or if you've been partaking in it for a while, you're probably finding yourself with a lot of loose papers. It's important to get all that stuff organized. Not only will it keep your work area cleaner, it will make it easier for your to locate items as you're preparing your family tree. Here are some tips to help your keep your research organized:
- Use three-ring binders. Although you might no longer be in school, three-ring binders are the best tools to help you keep your items organized. These supplies can store a lot of documents and they're easy to use. All you need to do is punch holes in your documents and then stick them in the binder. This keeps the papers all in one place so they can be easily found when you need them.
- Use index tabs. Using index tabs will definitely make it easier to find various items in your binder(s). You can divide up your research by section (i.e. family name, origin, birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.) so you can go right to what you need just by flipping some pages. You can use pre-made index tabs or customize your own. It's up to you.
- Use sheet protectors. There are a lot of sheet protectors on the market that can fit right into three-ring binders.
Sheet protectors are ideal for fragile items (such as that brittle birth certificate from the early 20th century) and they can also hold a lot of loose things that are too small to be hole-punched, such as snapshots and hospital bracelets.
- Make different folders on your computer. If you find yourself doing a lot of online research and you're saving information to your hard drive, make sure to make different folders and sub-folders for your work. You could have one main folder and give it a name like "Genealogy Research" and then create more folders it to store information for different family names and such. You can also use the folders to store photographs and PDF's.
- Keep a shoebox handy. If you're like most people, you have a lot of responsibilities to handle such as a job, looking after kids, and so on. Therefore, keep a shoebox handy so you can place items that need to go into your binder in it. This will keep them all in one convenient place until you can sit down and organize them properly.
Staying organized is essential when you're working on your family tree. Genealogy by design requires a lot of documents and you'll have a much better time growing your tree if everything can be found easily. If all of this sounds overwhelming, just start with the shoebox and then jump into using three-ring binders and all of the accessories (sheet protectors, index tabs) when you're ready. And be sure to use different folders on your computers to keep track of all of your digital information. Good luck!