Where Did I Put That? – Getting Organized

Going Digital 5

Just because the paper is now digital does not mean you don’t need a system of organization that you can use to file and retrieve the documents. For most this is the hard part. Fortunately it is easier to search and move digital files than boxes or shelves of books, magazines, saved articles, etc.

Remember the lady with the file cabinets? That’s a pretty common method for filing. Each file cabinet becomes a folder. But, with digital documents, you can easily have a subfolder for each and every surname in that line. You can file great aunt Milly under her maiden name, as you should, and slip a copy under her third husband’s name if you know that’s where you’ll look for it because you cannot recall her maiden name. You can file a copy of Joe and Mary’s marriage certificate under Joe’s surname and another under Mary’s maiden name if that will help you locate it later. You can have many copies of the same file without worrying about taking up space.

I have a folder for forms, another for those digital books, one for each course I have taken, another for articles to read. A copy of the article may be wherever it seemed appropriate too — research in Greene County, Ohio, is probably also filed under a couple surnames and, maybe, in a Greene County folder too. You can get as complex as you want, folders with subfolders in subfolders, or keep it simple. You can have the surname folder, then a subfolder for pictures, one for census, one for vital records, etc. You can just put all the files in the surname folder. You can do some variation. Digital makes it easy. And if you start simple and later decide to go complex it is easy to just move the files to new folders.

I do not mean to suggest I am totally bookless or paperless. I recently had new carpet installed and, weed and scan as I might, I still have a whole bookcase for genealogy. But it is only 100″ of books, a significant reduction. And I am down from eight file drawers to less than three.

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