For years I’ve had many of my genealogy files in 3-ring binders. I’ve had a set of 3 binders for the surname of each of my great-grandparents (8 total sets). Each surname had a specific color code for the labels on the notebooks. Each of the 3 binders: Genealogical Record Book (family group sheets, etc.), Documents, Photographs. As a notebook filled, I added more notebooks. For one surname I have 38 binders. For years I’ve thought this was the ONLY way to organize my genealogy.
I had lots of shelving space. As I’ve gotten more stuff and didn’t have time to add it to the notebooks, my shelves became overloaded with boxes and piles in addition to the binders.
THEN, along came some time to sort and organize! That was when I realized that future generations aren’t going to care about notebooks of land records, cemetery records, census records, military records, etc.
It FINALLY clicked that future generations are going to ask questions about people, not records. No wonder I’ve been assembling a collection of filing cabinets. Did you know that filing cabinets are a more efficient use of space than 3-ring binders?
I am organizing my files by surname and names within the surname in birth order. I’ve set the tabs for each generation in a different position moving across the hanging folders and color-highlighted the names according to generation. I can open a drawer and easily see birth order for everyone in each generation.
I’m not done, but I have files established for each surname and I have been emptying the binders into the files. I’ve also been tackling many of the piles and boxes. My strategies: 1) work on the easiest first, and 2) keep plugging away.
When I am ready to enter information into my genealogy program, I hope to have nearly everything for each person in their file.