Usually the first piece of advice many people give to a person beginning their search is to start writing down what you know about your family. I believe there is something you need to do even before that. You need to decide how you are you going to store your information. If you can’t easily find what you need, you will waste a lot of time both looking for material you know you have “somewhere” or re-researching material you forgot you had.
You need to decide what you are comfortable using. Do you like file cabinets and folders (the paper version) and/or notebooks (the paper version)? Do you prefer storing material on your computer’s hard drive? Or in “the cloud” on the server of one of the companies that provides this type of service. If you prefer working on a computer, do you want to invest in software specifically designed to save family trees and store your research? Each method has it’s advantages and disadvantages. I would suggest you figure out your primary filing system and storage and then start in.
Reinforcing what I mentioned above, you are going to find that you will not always be able to work on this project every day or every week or every month and, sometimes, you may find a year has gone by before you get to it again. When you go back to your research, you will want to waste as little time as possible trying to figure out where you were and how to find things.
There are three books that might be of help.
Organizing Your Family History Research by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. Cincinnati, OH: Betterway Books, 1999.
Managing a Genealogical Project: A Complete Manual for the Management and Organization of Genealogical Materials by William Dollarhide. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1999.
Both of these books will be more help with general principles of organization and with paper files. They are both too old to have much current information on the use of computers in storing genealogical data. This brings us to the third book.
How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia, and Family Records by Denise S. May-Levenick. Cincinnati, OH: Family Tree Books, 2012. Archiving and preserving is all about organization and storage. Take a look.
What if you want to use genealogy software? How do you know which is the best to use for your research? There are several places you can check. TopTenReviews.com offers side-by-side comparisons of ten genealogical software programs for PCs and seven comparisons for Apple computers as well. Dick Eastman also did an excellent review for Apple software on his blog. You will find all three below.
If you scroll down the Dick Eastman site, on the right hand frame you will eventually come to a section that lists categories in alphabetical order. Just look for “Software” and click on it if you want to check out what he has written recently on other types of software, including that for PCs.
In addition to the above, today’s “Weekly Genealogist” (published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society) points out a new addition to their Online Learning Center, Rhonda McClure’s Subject Guide to Getting Organized. She has additional information and online sites that may be just what you need. Take a look.
vea/4 December 2013
Newton Free Library
Library Website: http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net Genealogy Blog: http://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide: http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net/genealogy