Three Tips for Organizing Genealogy Research Files

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

Obituaries: SurnameFirstNameObit.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

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

Organizing Genealogy Research Using Archival Principles is my ebook with more of my organization ideas for paper and digital records. Discover effective step-by-step strategies to organize and link your digital files and paper records. No need for color codes, numbering systems, or other complicated schemes with this archives-based system. Click here for information.

Cataloging Digital Family Photographs

Cataloging Digital Family Photographs brings order to your family photographs and records, making every image you own searchable.

Cataloging Digital Family PhotographsFamily photographs may seem so complex that they defy organizing. With this Sassy Jane Genealogy Guide, you can tame your digital family photographs and records once and for all.

Discover the best way to scan image and records once and do it right; how to add names, dates, and places inside images; and how to store and safeguard your digital family photographs. This step-by-step guide also works for documents with multiple surnames. Click here for more info or to purchase.

Let me know if Three Tips for Organizing Genealogy Research Files helped you.

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”