From my presentation at RootsTech 2018, here are Three Tips for Organizing Genealogy Research Files.
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.
Three Organizing Tips
1. Use consistent naming conventions.
Here are some file-naming conventions I use:
Baptism Records: SurnameFirstNameBaptism.jpg
2. Use the person’s surname at the time the record or photo 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 a person’s name on digital file names to the preferred name in uses in your family tree software.
Organizing Genealogy Research
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.
Organizing Genealogy Research Using Archival Principles
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Let me know if Three Tips for Organizing Genealogy Research Files helped you.
Nancy E. Loe, MA, MLS, is a genealogy researcher and educator. After a long career in libraries and archives, Nancy now writes and lectures on her specializations: organizing research and U.S. and European records. She appears frequently at regional, national, and international genealogy conferences. She recently completed two Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy classes on Nordic research and reading German handwriting and Fraktur.