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Organizing My Research

There is lots of talk about organizing over the past few months.  Drew Smith has written an excellent book Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher. (You can find this in my store under Methodology or click the image in the sidebar.)  Drew has some great tips for getting organized.  He recently interviewed Cyndi Ingle (of Cyndi’s List) on the Genealogy Connection and I have to say, it made me feel better to know that others struggle with the same issues I do.  I think that for those of us who have been researching for a while, we’ve gone through various software upgrades or even changes, added information to online trees that is not currently in our main database and are now trying to figure out how to make everything work! We have paper files, digital files and sometimes, piles which never seem to get filed.  I’ve been working on digitizing everything I can and I’ve set up my digital files to mimic my paper filing system.  

I use an Ahnentafel system.  If you’re not familiar with that it is the number system used in a pedigree chart…you are number 1, your father is number 2,  your mother is number 3, etc.  Each male direct ancestor is double the number of the previous generation and his wife is double plus 1.  

My file cabinet is set up with hanging files numbered 1a, 1b, 1c which are my three daughters, then each file is set up for a couple: 2/3 Brian Moughty/Donna Mitchell; 4/5 Bernard Moughty/Catherine Daly; etc.  I’ve used the same method for my digital files.  

Genealogy File

What I like about this system is that if you come to missing ancestor, the space is always there should you find information in the future.  My grandfather Frank Mitchell #12 (aka Fedor Mylytczuk) emigrated from the Ukraine.  I have the names of his parents, #24/25 from his marriage license, but I have nothing after that.  So for now, there is no #48/49, #50/51 but should I find information, the files will drop right into place.

Since this numbering system works for direct ancestors, where do I put the collaterals?  They go into the file with their parents.

Genealogy File Collaterals

As you can see, the naming conventions once I get into the files aren’t consistent, and I’m still working on that.  I’ve picked up some tips from Drew, Cyndi and some of their listeners on how to standardize the documents inside the files.  That’s my next step.  

The beauty of Drew’s book is that it isn’t just about filing systems…it’s a way to organize everything, from your workspace to your goals, to your projects.  

If your strugging with organizing your research check out Drew’s book and podcasts.

Happy Hunting!


Just a little over a week to take advantge of the special two free upgrades  for the 2017 Genealogy Cruise. 

Classes on Sea Days

Sightseeing in Ports


© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2017