Are you drowning under a sea of birth certificates, bits of research, photographs, memorabilia, war records, the list goes on and on. If you’ve been a genealogist for any length of time, you have probably amassed a huge amount of data and paperwork. Would you like to turn that around and be the proud owner of a shiny new organised system? Here are four easy ways to start that process tonight but first; how do I know anything about organising your family tree?
Well, I’ve been researching my family tree for over 40 years and together with a husband who also researches his tree, our genealogy records have grown and grown and grown, a bit like the Magic Porridge Pot. Both of us have researched both sides of our families and so we have a potential 32 slots to fill with stuff, and boy are we making a good fist of it. The stuff that is. We were completely and utterly overwhelmed by it all. We organised it into boxes, of a kind, but even that didn’t go the full way to having anything like I would personally call an organised system. And having been a Personal Assistant and spent my days organising others, that really irked me. The PA in me couldn’t do it for myself!
I knew I had to do something. Hubby was way too busy to organise his paperwork, which left me to organise both families. So I decided to use the principle of just finding a few easy ways to begin the process. I began by going back to basics. Did I have everything in the same place? And if I didn’t, why not? Was everything segregated, digitised and recorded? The answer was a resounding no to all of those questions. Not everything was in the same place. With good reason, I hasten to add though. I kept all my books downstairs because there were only a few of them and to be fair, they were listed on an app I use on my phone so I did know where they were. The rest of the paperwork was upstairs in the office. And yes, I know, it’s a converted loft and I shouldn’t be storing things in a place where the temperature fluctuates, but to be fair, most rooms in our 1930’s semi fluctuate in terms of temperature. And some things were segregated, digitised and recorded but not all. So, to say I was fragmented was an understatement.
So here’s what I did about it and how you can easily do this too.
Make sure you bring everything together in one place, even if it is for different families or different branches of different families. To the best of your ability, just put it all in the same place physically and if you can’t – like I couldn’t with my books, keep a note of where things are. Use an inventory app such as InventoryDroid for Android – excellent and best one I’ve found.
Segregate everything into families with the exception of photographs, but organise papers and memorabilia into family piles.
Photograph, digitise and record every piece of memorabilia, each heirloom, all your priceless photographs and keep those records in your paper filing system.
- Bring everything together in one place
- Organise and segregate information into families, except photographs
- Photograph everything you own and make digital copies of papers and photographs
- Record where all your information is stored and who it belongs to
Finally, you can begin to really get your mind clear on what you have and know where everything is instead of stumbling around in the dark just adding more and more research to an ever-burgeoning pile. Wouldn’t that feel good? And if you want to take your organisation to the next level, be sure to check out our courses here at PerpatuaTree, where we teach you how to organise, preserve and protect your family documents and how to pass them on to your family.
Will you be able to finally tame your porridge pot, finally get to the bottom of it, scrape it clean and wash it up? Start today and make a pact with yourself to dedicate just 60 minutes of your day, each day for a month, to organising your family tree. Let me know how you are getting on and if you have any comments on questions on this post, be sure to post them below.