Friday, January 9, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over - Week 1 Progress

I've almost made it through Week 1 of the Genealogy Do-Over! This has been absolutely great for getting things more organized. I think I have a good start on developing a system of organizing and naming my digital files. I've also identified research logs to use and done an inventory on my most of paper files and resources.

Setting Previous Research Aside
For those of us doing more of a "go-over", it was suggested that we work on organizing our digital and paper files. I've inventoried most of my paper files, books, and other paper research materials. I still have one box to go, but now I know where everything is. That alone is a huge improvement!

I took a long look at my digital filing system and made some improvements. My plan is to migrate existing files to my new Genealogy folders as I need them. This is intended to be flexible and I'll definitely be making adjustments as I learn more during the Do-Over.

My top level Genealogy folder is starting out simply with two folders: Surnames and Places. Places is broken down by folders for countries and then regions such as states and counties. These will hold maps, histories, and collections of records related to a specific place.

Folders for each individual will be placed in the appropriate surname folder under Surnames. The individual folder names will be named as follows: LastFirstMiddle_BirthYear-DeathYear. For married females, the maiden name will be listed after the married last name.

The example above shows some of the folders in my Creeden surname folder. The Others folder is for individuals where I haven't found a definite connection to my family. I've found it easier to keep track if I separate these into their own area.

An example of an individual folder is shown below:

I usually wind up with multiple files in each category, so I find it easier to navigate when they're separated into folders. The Research Log in this folder is the individual summary spreadsheet from I downloaded the CensusTools spreadsheets years ago, but haven't been consistent with using them. This is my favorite one since it shows at a glance whether or not each possible record for an individual has been found.

My file naming convention shown above is:
Name_Document Description_Date_ImageOrPageNumber_Source. For sources, I'm using a 2 or 3 character code such as FS for FamilySearch, AC for, F3 for Fold3, and unk for the dreaded "I don't know where I got this"! As I save new files, this naming convention will allow me to easily see where I found the document and the "unk" code will not be used.

Preparing to Research
If I can stick to #1 and #2 in the next section, that will go a long way in improving my research preparations.

Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines
These are the top procedures I'm committing to:
  1. Decide what I'm searching for before I search.
  2. Review what I've already done before searching.
  3. Update my research logs as I search. Use the CensusTools "ResearchLog" for a quick summary. For a detailed research log, I'm going to try the Research Log posted by Thomas MacEntee.
  4. Cite sources properly.
  5. Use consistent naming conventions when saving documents.
  6. Slow down!
To Do:
This is definitely a work in progress, but these are the things mentioned in the Week 1 topics that I'd like to complete:
  • Inventory that last box of paper genealogy files.
  • Create a digital index to my top paper and digital files.
  • Inventory my digital files and migrate the ones I need. My plan is to migrate files for individuals as I research them.


  1. Thank you for this. I've been following the Do-Over and one of my desires was to re-organize my computer folders. I wanted a simple, clear example that I could start with but I was having a hard time finding a good one. Most were video tutorials (I prefer written info), spent too much time on how to create a folder on my computer (been using computers for 35 yrs. I got that part.) and not much explanation of what each folder is used for.

    Your post gets my Goldilocks award for the day. It's just right. :)

    1. Thanks Jason! I'm glad it helped. I've used that folder system for a while and it works well for me. My big challenge is to be consistent with it and make sure I track where things came from. I'm finding the information coming out of the Do-Over to be a bit overwhelming at times, so I need to keep it simple too.