If you have followed me here or on any of my social media platforms for any amount of time, you have learned that I enjoy researching my family genealogy. For the past year and a half, I have worked towards a system of organizing my research that marries my love of mixed media and traveler’s notebooks.
There is no ONE way to organize your genealogy research as each system is as unique as the person (and their family) compiling it. Whether you choose to keep your records in a digital database (i.e. Ancestry or Family Search) or in a paper file, there are a few fundamentals that will help you collect information.
Start with your parents and grandparents, while they are living. The obvious information to record is
- birthdate and location;
- parents names;
- spouse and children
Using a notebook or my Family Record Booklet, identify what you already know about your family. Be sure to capture the family stories that could die with them.
Once you have interviewed your closest living relatives, you will need to decide what information you do not have and you want to learn about your ancestors.
Using forms provided by your digital genealogy database or my Ancestor Research Booklet, select an ancestor to learn about and begin organizing your records.
Decide what you want to learn. Begin with ONE question? Trust me when I say, without a clearly defined search objective, you could climb up and down your family tree looking (and finding) information and be left with a pile of paperwork that can leave you frustrated and with more questions than you started with. What do you want to find?
Once you have identified what you want to look for, identify why do you want/need to know this information? Having the answers to these two questions will help you in your search. Often while looking for the answer to your the first question you will discover new questions to ask. Write them down. Create a list of research questions. Do not get distracted with the new questions…again, trust me on this point. Your ancestors are not going anywhere. Once you have answered the first question, you can look for information to answer the next, and next…you are bound to discover lots of questions to ask in your research.
Finally, prepare a research log. Knowing where you have previously looked for information will save you untold hours and headaches.
Are you new to researching your family history or have you been tracking down clues for years? How do you organize your material? I would love to know how you organize your research. Find me on FaceBook and Instagram and share your tips and photos with the hashtag #TheOrganizedMiss