Friday, February 24, 2012

Storing my Genealogy Research

File:Stack of Copy Paper.jpg

[Image by Jonathan Joseph Bondhus]

Marian Pierre-Louis of the Roots and Rambles Blog has been discussing the format she keeps her genealogical information in (with a follow-up on paper vs. digital) and how it relates to reviewing and analyzing your research.

I seem to follow the same basic pattern she does.  My information is stored as follows: 

  • Print outs in sheet protectors in 3-ring binders, divided by family. 
    • This includes pedigree and family group sheets, vital records, census records and obituaries.  These print outs go into the binder  upon entry into my genealogy program.
  • Legacy Family Tree genealogy program
    • Used to keep track of all of my information in an easy to see format.  This is particularly useful for distant cousins who I have limited information on, such as census records.  Also on my laptop are digital copies of all records I have used which are in a folder and tagged with metadata on the family and record type.
  • Microsoft OneNote
    • This allows me to make research plans, type out conclusions and show my methodology into my findings (particularly when using GPS).  This is one of the areas I need to focus on more this year.

Why do I have so many ways of keeping my information? 

  1. In order to do any type of analysis, I need the papers out in front of me.  I am very much a paper person and see more when I can look at and hold the item in my hands.  The papers also allow me to spread out a large amount of documents in front of me to compare information.  These are all things I cannot do easily with digital copies.
  2. There is an ease of looking at the conclusive information in a genealogical program and of looking at my thought process in a word processing program (my writing is awful…) that is not available on paper.  I can easily update a birthdate and reprint a new family group sheet much easier than I could re-write one (and with much less possibility of error).  By tagging research logs and reports I can find all the work I have done on an individual or family.
  3. One of my favorite things to do with the information I find is to show it to my family.  Although we could all gather around my laptop, it is so much more enjoyable to flip through a binder on the family and look at all of the documents relating to our ancestors life.

What format do you keep your research in?


  1. I, by and large, endeavor to keep all my documents in a digital format. Obviously, having a paper copy is nice (occasionally vital), but whereas digital space gets exponentially larger as a device gets smaller, storing physical copies goes the other way!

    An idea that I wanted to bring up was the idea of an online repository of document images and person profiles--part wiki and part file cabinet. A cloud storage system accessible by invite, but not something commercial or available (necessarily) to the public web.

    Given the costs of obtaining certificates any more, and to reduce research redundancy of pursuing obtaining the same certificates by many people, this seems both prudent and effective.

    What I can't figure out are the best tools to accomplish this. Any ideas?

  2. I tend to keep my files in digital format. I have 8 folders for each of my great grandparents surnames. I keep folders under each of them as well for more surnames. I do however keep hard copies of a lot of materials filed. I file these under the couple. I make a couple copies to put some in parents files as well as the children's files.

    Regards, Jim
    Genealogy Blog at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

  3. @smhb, I would recommend either or Wikitree is new and seems very popular with blogger. I requested an invite and if I get one, I'll send you one, too:-)

  4. @Jim Sanders, I think this makes a lot of sense. Keeping all of my info digitally would definitely be better space-wise, but I love paper so much:-) Thanks for commenting!


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