02 June 2011

Organization and Filing - Soft Copy

 I'm really trying to go as digital as possible with my genealogy research, for various reasons. First, it will save a tree. Second, Although its easy to find my hard copy files now that they are organized, I think its faster to search for digital files on my hard drive. Third, I don't have to keep going back to the original documents and risk damaging them. I can just deal with my digital copy. So, how do I organize them?

First, I use Dropbox. This is great to use because it not only stores all the files on my hard drive (the "My Dropbox" file is under "My Documents") but also in the "cloud". This means I can access this file from anywhere in the world if I have internet access. So, I could take my laptop to the Family History Library and add files right into my system from there...awesome!
Also, I can sync it with other computers so it will automatically update when I make changes. For example, I've synced my entire dropbox on my laptop. I've also shared my genealogy folders with my Mother-in-law so she can look at them too. Okay, lets talk folder structure:

First, create a Genealogy folder.
  Within that folder create a Database folder, General folder, and Sources folder.

I use my database folder to store backups of my Roots Magic database, Gedcom files I've received or created, and reports I've created.

I use my general folder for exactly that - general genealogy stuff that isn't specific to one person or family. So this is where I put my research logs, videos, and info about researching in Brazil and Denmark. Create as many folders as you need - remember, digital folders are free and don't take up any space (just the documents inside them do).

Now lets talk sources...this is where it gets good.
In my sources folder I create a folder for my tree and Troy's tree. Within each of those folders I create a folder for each Surname (last name) that appears in the respective family trees. I have a lot more names in Troy's tree but that is okay. Now let's take a look at one of those Surname folders.

We have a lot of Lund families in our tree so here's the Lund surname folder. I've named them by last name first then by the husband/wife name. Now, I add any information about these families within the respective folders. Remember from the hard copy filing post to file in the family the doc was created in. For example, my Birth Certificate is in my parent's folder, but my marriage licence is in my husband and my file...because that took place when we were a new family.
 Here's a look inside Troy's G-G-grandparents' folder - Mathias and Pauline Lund. As you can see by the document titles, I can tell exactly what each document is without having to open each one. I've chosen to follow the following naming order:

   Document Type - Person(s) Name - Date - additional info

That way, all like documents bunch together. Some other folders have picture files, so one way I would name it would be:
   Photograph - deMacedo, Deolinda - 1983 - s1
   Photograph - deMacedo, Deolinda - 1854 - Identification Card - s2

You could also look at thumbnails of the documents in the file -
 As you can see, it is still important to have the name in order to know what you're looking at. The great thing about this system is that you can find any person's records quickly and easily. You can also search for items based on the title and find it super fast. Try it for yourself.

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