Archive for the ‘organizing’ Category

OK… I’ve spent a couple days doing more sorting and organizing projects.

Project One: Moved some information in binders to file folders. Starting with the several binders of information my mother had for the Pehrson surname, I labeled hanging folders for my great-grandparents (the immigrants) and for each of their twelve children. Under my grandfather, I created additional hanging folders for his children and for my generation. I will add folders for descendants of the other eleven children, if/when necessary. I emptied the binders and placed my mother’s family group sheets in these folders, along with other appropriate information. Keep in mind: my mother created several family group sheets for each person… as she found information, instead of adding the information to a master sheet, she created a new sheet, which might or might not have the same information as previous sheets… someday I will compare the sheets and analyze the information… that waits for another day… at this time, I’m simply trying to sort and assemble the information in one place. I emptied four 3-ring binders and have awesome-looking files! I wonder which family surname I should tackle next…

Project Two: Sorted some old Christmas letters. I found some of the Christmas letters that my parents/mother received over the years. I saved the ones from family members and the closest friends, sorted them by person/family who sent them, and placed them in manila file folders. I then placed the file folders in the appropriate hanging folders in my filing cabinets for those families. I placed the folders for close family friends in the hanging folder for my parents. As I find more letters, I now have a place to put them.

Project Three: Combined two sets of family photographs. I combined my mother’s 3-ring binder of Pehrson photographs with my binder of family photographs. In this case, no duplicates, no snapshots, and neither set is very complete. I will eventually find more photos; it’s just a matter of finding the right box.

More baby steps completed in a giant project.


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We’ve watched the bride-to-be grow up; we are good friends with her parents. Now I have met the mother of the groom and my genealogy reputation had preceded me.

Beth lives in Michigan where a few people are board certified genealogists and many people are members of APG (Association of Professional Genealogists). I’d love to live close to so many active, professional-level genealogists! I could learn so much from them.

I invited her to see my genealogy room; I don’t do that often. I learned a couple significant things during her visit.

1) It is obvious that we can not write a book about each one of our ancestors. Beth told me that she attended a presentation where the speaker explained how to handle this dilemma… pick one of the people in a family group to write about, then pull the others in as you tell the story.

2) She asked if I had made an inventory of my family keepsakes. She said that somewhere she heard that we should all do that. For me the problem is two fold: I have so much and it is strewn all over the house. I understand what she is saying: how will our children know what is a genuine family heirloom. I need to work on this!

Beth saw my rows of overflowing bookshelves and the stacks of books and papers on my countertops. She did not see inside the cupboards. I showed Beth the storeroom next to my genealogy room, the room with 7 four-drawer filing cabinets and bunches of tubs and boxes. However, she did not see my other storeroom, which also has numerous file storage boxes.

Beth explained that she has scanned or saved electronically much of her research. Most of mine is paper. Much of mine was collected either before or early in the electronic era. I’ve inherited so much from so many people; much is duplicated, but needs to be sorted and organized. If I scan everything, will my family look at it? I suspect the only thing they will keep are finished books. IF that is the case, I shouldn’t waste a lot of time scanning everything; I need to focus on writing those books.

In our conversation we agreed on the importance of determining what will happen to our research, so we don’t leave our precious work to the whim of our children. My situation is overwhelming for me; what would it be like for our children?

Beth, I look forward to corresponding with you and seeing you again! What else will I learn from you?

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Layer #1

Remember the Alka-Seltzer ad slogan, “Plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is!”? Well, this post is not about stomach relief; it is about mental and emotional relief for both my husband and me as well as for our sons and their families!

When I started this blog, one of the things I wanted to write about was “making sense out of chaos.” Dave and I have inherited a lot of stuff. It has filled nearly every nook and cranny of our house and garage, including a large storage room on the second floor of the garage and two rooms in the lower level of our house. We have known that we needed to divest ourselves of some junk, so a couple months ago we started our Layer #1 project. Even though I was severely challenged with my broken arm, we started the sorting process.

Our goal was to have a garage sale and to donate the leftovers to our church’s garage sale later this summer. To locate items for our sale, we primarily sifted and sorted through the storage areas in the garage. If the items were in the garage they probably weren’t high-priority keepers. However, some other sale items were also identified in the house.

Nearly all of the items held memories… memories of people and times past. We set up a photo area, with a dark background and good lighting and took lots of pictures. We couldn’t keep all of the items, but we can hold onto the pictures and memories. Remember this was only Layer #1; we still have many items left with more memories of the same people.

Items deemed not worth selling were discarded. We also had one son with 26 boxes in our store room and he was invited to either take all of the boxes to his house or to sort through them and take the most valuable/memorable items to his house, he did the latter.

Most of the time we priced items as we photographed them, which saved considerable time later.

Eventually, I figured out to organize a pricing box. This consisted of ultra fine point Sharpies, wider markers, pricing stickers, wide and narrow masking tape, cellophane tape, scissors, 3×5 cards, string, and dust cloths.

We picked the date based on when the local newspaper was sponsoring a city-wide garage sale, which attracts many potential buyers. Our sale was one of 22 sales last weekend.

We received several compliments on our ad; interested people got a good idea of what we had:

Sat, 8-1. Unique garage sale. Lots of vintage & modern misc for home, yard, repurpose, woodworker repair, or photo props: pans, chairs, milk cans, iron beds, school desks, chests, AE bottles, harness, wagon wheels, sausage press, lots of cast iron, spinning wheel, butter churn, lamps, picture frames, window frames & much more; must see! No early birds/no checks.

One son and his wife helped us in several ways. In addition to our newspaper ad, she posted our sale on two websites: Indianola garage sales and Craig’s list; they included some items in the sale, and they ran the check-out station. They heard comments like, “Now, this is really a garage sale.” “This is the best garage sale in town today.” An app on their phones allows them to take credit/debit cards and they used it for a three or four customers. Otherwise, everyone paid cash. Using counterfeit marking pens made sure no one was handing out bad money; rumors indicate people may be using counterfeit money, even five-dollar bills, at garage sales.

Our sale items were all organized by group. Our garage was full as well as a large part of the concrete parking area behind our house. We set up two canopies to protect our merchandise from inclement weather if necessary, though our stuff extended far beyond the edges of the canopies. We lucked out with a chilly, but sunny, no wind, day.

In essence, we tried to make the sale as “professional” as possible, considering it was a “garage sale.”

Net result: we had 10-cent, 25-cent, 50-cent, $1, $5, etc. items. I think the highest priced item that sold was $40. The spinning wheel did not sell, nor did one of the school desks, and a few of the chairs. But we got rid of a lot of stuff and made a very surprising amount of money, enough to pay for some motel rooms and meals when we go on vacation later this year! We only have a few boxes of small items left to take to the church, and we have a few larger items to give them as those organizers get closer to sale date.

Prior to the sale, one of our daughters-in-law said, “your sons should thank you for this!”, knowing that if something happens to us, they will have to deal with our stuff.

While this was only Layer #1 and it was a lot of work, “Oh, what a relief it is!” The amount of junk in our storage room had been overwhelming. Now we have room to spare and feel a huge sense of emotional and mental relief! It was time!

I’m already thinking about potential items in Layer #2 and how we’ll divest them, maybe another garage sale, maybe not; we’ll see.

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Most of us have moved, probably several times. How many of us got caught with the last loads moved being the contents of the garage?

The last few days my husband and I have been helping a son and his family move to a new house. Because of logistics we needed to move everything in the garage first. Within a couple hours of getting the key to the house, we were moving the garage contents… first his heavy-duty, warehouse-type steel shelving and getting it set up, then the contents and finally hoisting some heaving totes and tools onto the shelving.

What a unique concept… the garage first!

David's garage-2

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After spending an inordinate amount of time trying to find two documents, I started a piece of the sorting/organizing process again. You could ask, doesn’t she already have everything organized? The answer is a simple, no. I’ve got so much stuff, I don’t know if I can get it all organized in my lifetime.

On this day I began to work on one family surname. Keep in mind that I already have 38 3-ring binders of information for this surname! And everything in these binders is organized! It is just that I have so much more and I have run out of binder storage space on my shelves. So I moved on to file drawers… I wrote about emptying these a while back.

I have hanging folders and made one for each family member/couple as I came across something for that individual/couple. I placed the hanging folder in proper family member position, i.e., parents, then children in birth order, then grandchildren in birth order under the appropriate parents, and so on. I also changed the position of the tab on the hanging folder to reflect that order, so I have the tabs staggered. Then I realized that simply staggering the tabs by generation still didn’t give the “at-a-glance” visual I wanted, so I highlighted the names for each generation with a different color. This worked well.

No, I didn’t type my labels, I simply wrote the name of the individual (last name, then first name) and on the second line the spouse’s name. I know another genealogist who purchased a label maker so she would not have to deal with sheets of labels and typing them on the computer. I’m sure her labels look nicer than mine, but mine are functional.

Inside the hanging folder I placed manila folders of specific material, so I’m not just dumping everything into the hanging folder. Items are somewhat sorted within the hanging folder.

I only spent a few hours but I made progress. AND, the payoff was: I found the documents I was looking for!

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