What you see shown above is part of my workspace. It was much worse. In fact over the last few years it has gotten much better. Instead of boxes and file drawers full of papers and records surrounded by hills of paper about to collapse this is all that is left. Well mostly. I would like to try and explain how I have formed my genealogy file system. I would like to say at the start of this explanation that my system is not the best nor is it a bad one. It is a system that works for me and may also work for you in whole or in part. But in any case we all need a system that we can work with so we can get on with discovering our family history.
I keep both a digital and paper record. I know many people use mostly digital and very little paper, but I have decided against that. No one can say how we will be keeping our digital records twenty-five years from now. Look what has come and gone or is on the way out. Microfilm, fiche, floppy disk, recordable disk, and flash drives. Audio and visual recordings have the same history of what has come and gone. Paper, however, has been around for hundreds of years and will last much longer than any digital recording I can think of. Digital records, are neat and take up very little room. Paper can also be organized neatly and the room it takes can be managed. The picture below shows two of my three binders that hold over 500 family records. I will soon start a census binder as I have not done much with filing those records.
I do not keep a paper binder for each family. I simply give each record a number and file it away in numerical order. Since I work on both my family lines and those of my wife, this helps keep the number of binders to a minimum. I use an Excel spreadsheet and enter each number into that file. Next I put in what type of record or Document that goes with the number. Then I enter the family name and or the family members that are named on the document. This makes it very easy to search who goes with each record. For example, if I want to know which records belong to the Moore family, I put Moore into the find option, and it will bring me to each Moore file. I then can go to the binder and look over the record. I also have started to scan the records into a file which will do the same. These are also saved to a cloud by a service that I use.
I use the Family Tree Maker 2014 from ancestry.com. I tell you this not as a recommendation (however I do like it) but to let you know what I use to record my family tree. When I enter a source into the program, the first item is the number given to that record. So once more it relates right back to the paper file and my binders. I find this is also best for me as I work on my family history book. I can find the records I need and can give them the proper citation. I also find this shows where I need to improve my documentation, so I can be as sure as possible I have the correct facts.
This has been a short explanation of my genealogy filing system. I would like to hear from you on your system and how you keep it all organized. Also, if you have any comments, suggestions or questions please note them. I look forward to hearing from you.