I have written down what I know. I have talked to my family and made notes. I now have scraps of paper and multi notebooks. Now what do I do?
Step Three: Organization is your best friend. Organize your family research.
I started with one notebook and wrote all my records and notes in it. Seemed so simple, until I had a name and date but no idea who the person was related to and what it meant. So organize yourself. I think I have tried every organizational tip I have ever seen and yet I still found myself writing on numerous scraps of paper and a number of notebooks. So I started again.
Color coding was the best, easiest and most efficient way to organize.
I picked four colors, one for each of my Grandparents. Blue for my Fathers Father. Green for my Fathers Mother. Pink for my Mothers Father and Yellow for my Mothers Mother. Back to school is your best friend when deciding to color code your family research. I went and got notebooks, folders, and index cards in each of the four colors. I then picked up purple, orange, red, and light blue to further colorize the family names, but to start it was just four colors.
I went through my original notebook and copied all the notes into the correct family colored notebook. The notes I couldn’t decide where they went I put in a plain folder. I will admit I did not throw out that original notebook. It somehow holds memories, but I do not reference it. I took all my scraps of paper and I put them in folders that matched the corresponding family. Each notebook and folder had the family name written on it, in case I forgot which color I picked for which family. Don’t laugh, when you get to those purple’s and orange’s you can get confused.
I also use the same colors in my genealogy database, so when I am roaming around in the 1700’s I know which line I am working on by looking at it’s color code. I also know than cool colors are my fathers side and warm colors are my mothers side.
I have 3 ring binders and accordion style or envelope style folders in each color also, to hold copies of birth, marriage, death certificates, census records, military records, or other information that confirms my family tree through sources.
Once you have accomplished these things:
- Writing down what you know.
- Talking to family.
- Deciding on Ancestors, Decendants or Both.
- Organizing your notes.
You will feel like you are on your way to creating your family history.
More on sources, what they mean and why you need them in Genealogy 101C.