I decided about two years ago to try to put as much of my digital material as possible in a consistent and coherent file folder system. Since then, I've gradually been:
1) Adding the digitized document and photograph files to the organized file folder system
2) Using a consistent file naming convention to enable grouping of records for each person.
Here are images and details about my file folder system:
1) In My Documents > Genealogy file folder, I have six different file folders:
* Ancestor Files - documents relating to my ancestral families
* Books and Reports - correspondence, reports and books pertaining to my research
* Localities - documents relating to towns, counties, states and countries pertaining to my research
* Software - my genealogy software program files (each program has a file folder and sub-folders)
* Surnames - material that I've collected pertaining to specific surnames - I'm gradually copying these into the Ancestor Files file folder.
* Talks - material for my genealogy presentations and classes
2) I clicked on the "Ancestor Files" file folder and saw this list:
There are different file folders in the screen above for:
* Family History - Carringer-Smith-Auble-Kemp -- these files are for my mother's ancestral families
* Family History - Leland-McKnew -- these files are for my wife's ancestral families
* Family History - Seaver-Hildreth-Richmond-White -- these files are for my father's ancestral families
* Master Lists - these are lists I use to stay organized and informed about my research
* Tests -- this contains temporary files that I do tests with on websites, software, etc.
* To be filed -- this contains files that I have saved from repositories and scans, but have not added to my database or used the naming convention system
3) The Family Surname Collection - here is a screen showing the Carringer-Smith-Auble Kemp families (great-grandparent surnames):
A file folder for any surname in my mother's ancestry can be added to the list above. I am still adding them!
4) I clicked on the Carringer surname and the list below shows the file folders:
The screen above shows my 6 ancestral Carringer families (including an "earlier" folder).
I save information by ancestral families, meaning father and mother of my ancestor. I use the generation number (starting with 01 for the latest generation of that surname) and the first and last names of the couple. Because I numbered them by generations, they fall in a natural order in the Folder list. This way I can usually quickly figure out which file folder to choose.
If one or both persons in a couple have another family, I would probably add another folder here with a name that reflect the generation back and the names of the couple. for example, if Austin Carringer had another marriage, I would have a 02-Austin Carringer+What's Hername file folder. I haven't had to do this much.
I have other folders on the list above for:
* Correspondence - scanned letters, saved email, saved Ancestry messages, etc. about this surname.
* Master Lists - lists for the surname - e.g., SSDI lists
* Other Carringer Families - information about non-ancestral Carringer families
* Surname genealogy reports
* Web pages with information about the surname
* I sometimes add a file folder here for a specific collection - the example above is the Della (Smith) Carringer scrapbook.
5) I clicked on the 01-Lyle Carringer+Emily Auble file folder, and saw:
In general, I have these three file folders in the specific family file folder. They are:
* Documents -- Digital images of documents
* Genealogy Reports - Digital reports and charts for the specific family
* Photographs - Photographs of the specific family.
6) In the Documents file folder are files for each person in the family unit. I keep documents of the children of the parents in their parents file folder until the first marry. If they never marry, their documents are in their parents file.
I use a file folder naming convention consisting of Name (GivenMILast), Date, Record type, Other Info as shown below:
7) The Genealogy Reports for the specific family looks like this:
Most of the reports and charts in this file were created by my genealogy software programs. I can up date them any time that I need to, and I know where to find them.
8) The Photographs file folder has scanned digital images from my photograph collection. I try to use the file naming convention here also, replacing the . Record Type with a Place indicator:
In the photograph file names, I add names of other persons in the photo, and a subject, in the photo at the end of the file name.
I have some inconsistencies in these file folders, and between file folders, as astute observers will see in the images above. However, I cannot change the file names or the file folder names because I have many digital files already linked in my genealogy software program. So I live with the inconsistencies.
This file folder system works pretty well for me. The benefits are:
* The file folder structure is consistent - I know that the system for Seaver will be the same as for Carringer.
* I know where to find the records for a specific surname, specific families of that surname, and a specific person and can navigate to them quickly
* Flexibility to add surnames, families and persons as needed.
* All digital files added as Media to my genealogy program are from this system.
The only drawbacks I've found are:
* Sometimes takes me 10 seconds to get to the digitized record I want in the organized file.
* I don't have "everything" in the files yet.
* I need to copy the contents of these files to my laptop computer using a flash drive whenever I change or add digital records to the system. There are way too many file folders and digital files in this system to use a free cloud storage system.
Note that I also have a second major Genealogy-2 for other genealogy material - including Clients, Correspondence, Education, Forms, Funnies, Societies and Websites. I separated these out because I couldn't get everything on one 16-gigabyte flash drive!
The URL for this post is: http://www.geneamusings.com/2012/10/my-ancestor-family-file-folders-and.html
Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver
Updated 8 p.m. to correct minor errors and add several sentences.