Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Wednesday,
Jul 23rd
Home Columns Ancestral Discovery Organizing the forest

Organizing the forest

E-mail Print PDF

As astute readers may have noticed, almost all genealogical topics fall into one of two categories: methodology or resources. Since both are critical for creating accurate family histories, I try to be even handed between the two, but like most genealogists, I tend toward the resources category (as the last two columns demonstrate) — show me the records! To balance that bias, let’s talk organization in this column.

It won’t take long after you start digging up your roots, to find that you start amassing quite a bit of information. When you send away for vital records, take notes from interviewing relatives, acquire ships manifests, census information, obituaries, newspaper articles — all of this material needs to go somewhere, and easily findable. At all costs, avoid the Pile Methodology — don’t leave paper in piles. Those piles are genetically bred to mingle, so instead, use folders.

Many family historians have a folder for each branch of the family, or further subdivide into folders for particular couples and their children. Others use one folder for all vital records, another for census info, etc. Still others use 3-ring notebooks with plastic sleeves — which is probably the best method, both organizationally and for preserving records.

(A great clearinghouse of preservation resources can be found at Cyndi’s List: www.cyndislist.com/preservation.htm.)

Try a method that works the way your brain works, and if it doesn’t quite work, experiment with a different method.

Don’t wait until the piles appear before you start this method. Get in the habit now by labeling folders so you have a welcoming destination for all those scraps of paper.

Electronically, the same methodology works. Increasingly, more information is online, or coming online that you’ll want to download, including original sources such as birth certificates, ship manifests, city directories, naturalization petitions, etc.

Just create folders and subfolders on your desktop, and download documents directly to the folders. For instance, I have folders labeled family photos, video, documents, articles, etc., and within some of them, I have folders for each branch of my family.

This method will also hopefully encourage you to start scanning material to put into those folders. It would be a true tragedy if something were to happen to those priceless family photos and documents, so now it the time to either scan them in yourself, or hire someone else do it for you. Not only do you create an exact copy of those documents/photos that can be easily shared, but they will be better preserved since you don’t have to handle them — they can be locked away in a cool, dark place.

And make sure to create back ups, either on another hard drive, or burning the info on CDs.

In the old days (before computers), people used forms to organize all their facts, to see the big picture, or focus on an individual. They also created hand drawn family trees, or bought charts and filled them in by hand (some still do). Now, anyone who is slightly serious about genealogy, uses software specifically designed to organize literally hundreds of thousands of pieces of information. I’ll talk about that next time.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 February 2009 08:54 )  

IJN e-Edition

This is only a taste! Get full access to the IJN via our e-Edition, only $14.04 for IJN Print subscribers.

E-Edition subscribers get access to a complete digital replica of the IJN, which includes all special sections.

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Shabbat Times

JTA News

Obama administration presses for $225M addition to Iron Dome funding

Ron Kampeas The Obama administration asked Congress to fast-track Israel’s request for an additional $225 million for the Iron Dome anti-missile system. ... [Link]

Former Auschwitz guard dies before extradition to Germany

Marcy Oster Johann Breyer, the 89-year-old Philadelphia man who served as a guard at Auschwitz and was scheduled to be extradited to Germany, has died. ... [Link]

Police: Murdered Florida State prof Dan Markel was target

Marcy Oster Dan Markel, the Florida State University law professor who was murdered in his home, was shot in the head by someone who wanted him dead, police said. ... [Link]

Three IDF soldiers killed in Gaza home explosion

Marcy Oster Three Israeli soldiers were killed in a Gaza house rigged with explosives. ... [Link]

Brooklyn man must pay $522,000 in Israeli charities scam

Julie Wiener A Brooklyn man who pleaded guilty to felony tax fraud in an Israeli charities scam was ordered to pay more than a half-million dollars in a civil suit. ... [Link]

The Israel-Hamas war through haredi Orthodox eyes

Miriam Moster Was a gay pride parade to blame for the kidnapping of three Israeli teens? Can modest garb and ice cream save civilian lives? ... [Link]

FAA extends Ben Gurion Airport ban another 24 hours

Ron Kampeas The Federal Aviation Administration extended for another day its ban on flights to Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv. ... [Link]

Survey: Half of U.K. Jews not overly concerned by rising anti-Semitism

Julie Wiener Nearly 70 percent of Jews in the United Kingdom believe anti-Semitism is on the rise, a new survey found, but half of the respondents are not overly concerned. ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942
email@ijn.com • larry@ijn.com • lori@ijn.com