In this post, you can read my seven tips to organize your genealogical information such as photos and documents. If you have been putting it off it is OK, but hopefully, these tips will get you motivated to get started.
Why should you even care to get organized? Everyone is different and there are many reasons, but for me. I am organized to save time! Yes to save time. I no longer research the same record twice and don't have to go through piles of paper or folders to find what I need.
Or, a ton of records and folders in your computer. This was my case since very early on I would download, copy, or scan everything into folders on my computer.
Another reason that I got organized was to have a way to very easily share these records, photos, and even genealogical reports with anyone just in a few second.
Seven Tips to Organize Your Genealogical Information
Genealogical information can be many types of documents. To keep it simple for this post I will only talk about marriage, birth, death, and photos which are the most common. But the tips apply to anything. Here they are
Tip# 1. Set Aside 10 Minutes a Day
The task can be daunting and puts many people off. What you want to do is create a habit. Start with only ten minutes daily to organize you records and photos. Soon you will find that you may want to do it longer than 10 minutes daily.
Great, you have ten minutes daily. Now what to organize
Tip# 2. Identify What You Have
Start using your ten minutes per day to gather all your genealogical information and make it readily available in one location. Many people tend to have everything scattered around in one room. If you don't want to move anything it is OK. Still take the time to locate everything so you know where it is.
Now that you know exactly what you have it is time to sort it out.
Tip# 3. Sort What You Have
Yup, start sorting what you have into piles. All the marriage, death, birth/baptism, and photos into piles. This will make ti easier for you to find these records for any individual faster and will help for further organizing.
Tip# 4. Use Software to Manage Your Genealogy
If you are still not using software to manage your family tree and records you are missing out. I personally use one named Family Tree Maker. It costs about $80 but to me it is the best that is out there. It holds not just my family tree but all my genealogical records and photos. I attach them when I enter a citation for a fact such as a marriage, birth/baptism, or death. I select the option to import to Family Tree Maker that way the image is always there. Then, if I ever need to look for someones record I always click on my citation and it is there. This applies to any record you attach on your citations. For more on this topic: Why You Should Use a Computer Program to Manage Your Tree.
Tip# 5. Buy A Scanner
Before you can attach your piles of sorted records you need to digitize them first. For this you will need to use a scanner. Almost every-household has a scanner included with their printer. If you don't have one then you will need to get one.
Tip# 6. Scan What you Have
So you have sorted everything into categories or record types, now what. Know it is time to scan everything. I scan everything into JPG a very popular image format that is compatible with most software. Scan you piles of papers and organize them on your computer by folders. That way you know exactly were everything is. Once you are done, open you genealogy software and start attaching those scans into citations starting with your self and working back to your ancestors. This will also help you identify where you are missing records proving parentage in your lineages.
Tip# 7. Go Digital Today
Even before you do any of the above steps, start going digital. What I mean is that instead of printing with your printer print to PDF using CutePDF and or the Snipping Tool in you windows computer to cut out an image and save as a JPG. Then just attach these records into your genealogy software.
There you have it. These are the best tips that I share with everyone to help them get organized and or go completely digital. Back in 2018 I did a presentation for Las Villas Del Norte talking about this topic. If you are a member you can watch it here: How to Organize Your Genealogical Information.
If you are not a member consider becoming one to watch this presentation and many others.
Well, that is it. I hope that you have fun organizing your genealogy. Remember the key is starting with 10 minutes a day. Slowly but surely it will get done.