Genealogists create lots of digital files in the course of their research. Some are downloads, some are scans of paper records in our research collections. But all of them need consistent processing if future search results are going to be useful.
1. Use consistent naming conventions.
Here are some file-naming conventions I use:
Baptism Records: SurnameFirstNameBaptism.jpg
2. Use the only the surname at the time the record or photograph was created.
Let’s follow an example for records on one person, Anna Schumann Kirschstein Kahns, throughout her life:
SchumannAnnaBaptism.jpg – A baptism record file for Anna Schumann
KirschsteinSchumannMarriage.jpg.– First marriage record
KahnsKirschsteinMarriage.jpg – Second marriage record
KahnsAnnaDeath.jpg – Death record
3. Match the surname on the digital file name to the name you use in your family tree software.
I name all files consistently to match the main name for that person in my family tree software. Then, within that person’s profile on the software, I note variant names and their sources. This works well for me, allowing for records to be retrieved quickly and easily through consistent naming, but still retaining the variants needed for continued research.
I’ve put together an e-book, Sassy Jane’s Guide to Organizing Your Genealogical Research Using Archival Principles. Because professional archivists manage vast paper records as well as digital files, their standards and practices are useful to consider when organizing your research. The $10.50 e-book is a 40-page PDF you can download and print. Click here to order.