Southern California Genealogical Society
SCGS RESEARCH ASSISTANCE - Articles

Getting Started #2: Organization
By Beverly Truesdale

Now that you have your pedigree chart, family group sheets and other material, what do you do with them? You now need to organize them for easy access.

1. There will be several catagories of things that will have to be organized: family group sheets and pedigree sheets, correspondence, notes and documents.

2. Notebooks provide the best answer for the pedigree and family group sheets. Family group sheets can be quickly organized in alphabetical order by surname and a divider placed between each surname.

3. Correspondence can easily be filed in manila folders labeled with the surname of the family being researched.

4. Notes can be broken down by surname, subject or locality and placed in manila folders. Be sure to date and list where the material was found. Also list the title, author, call number and other pertinent data in case you want to re-read the book for additional data on the family.

I have had people come into the library with just a piece of paper on their family and want to look at the book again. I ask them what is the title of the book and they don’t know. “It was a red book,” they say. Or a “blue book.” We have lots of “red” and “blue” books. So be sure to write the title down.

5. You may want to establish a card file or a research calendar and list the books that you have looked at so you don’t keep checking the same book twice. We have research calendar forms for sale at our library.

6. Boxes, standard files or vegetable bins make good filing places. Used file drawers can often be purchased from the want ads or used office furniture stores.

7. Be sure that notebooks are labeled on the outside. You may want to use a different color notebook or manila folders for each family.

8. Documents should be labeled carefully as to a specific name. You can keep them in manila folders labeled birth records or death records.

I usually make a copy of the original document and put the copy in the folder that pertains to that person and keep the original in a safe place. You can buy plastic sleeves to keep your documents in so they don’t get wrinkled or damaged.

NEVER BRING YOUR ORIGINAL MATERIAL TO THE LIBRARY. Always bring a copy of your pedigree sheets and family group sheets. I have two notebooks, one for home and other for when I visit the library.

9. You can also do an alphabetical listing of your family names with a birth or death date to take with you when you visit a library.


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