Thursday, October 9, 2008

Is This My New Computer Genealogy Filing System? - Post 2

In my first post on this subject, I provided a look at my current computer filing system for my genealogy data, and mentioned several alternative systems that I've looked at recently. Wendy, Colleen, Geoff and Ben commented - and I appreciate their taking the time to do so.

Ben's comment that "...I've found it useful to consider the ways I might look for the item in the future. After all, that is what it's all about. How do you want to be able to retrieve the data? That ought to inform your decision regarding how to store it." really defined the problem well, I thought.

I've spent two evenings trying things out and thinking things through - even to the point of copying reports, images and correspondence into file folders just to see if what I was doing was going to work. I think it will.

My goal is to put as much information about each family and place they lived that I research in a separate, identifiable file folder. The logical way to this is by Surname and by family and locality within the Surname folder.

Here's what I've decided so far:

* Genealogy> [all genealogy in this folder]
** Client-Colleague Research -- all files for clients and colleagues, sorted by client/colleague name
** Education -- books, magazines, articles, tutorials, etc.
** Forms -- masters of forms
** Randy's Family History Research -- all material relating to my own family history research (my own, my wife's, my sons-in-law, etc.)
** Societies -- files for different genealogy societies
** Software -- files for different genealogy software
** Talks -- presentation and handout files for my society talks
** Websites - information about specific genealogy websites

This list looks similar to my current list, except I've eliminated the Correspondence, Locality, Reports and Surnames folders and will incorporate that information into the Client-Colleague Research and Randy's Family History Research folders.

In the Randy's Family History Research folder, I have broken the research down into:

** Randy's Family History Research>
*** Carringer-Auble Families (my mother's lines)
*** Seaver-Richmond Families (my father's lines)
*** Leland-Schaffner Families (my wife's lines)
*** etc. (my sons-in-law families)

Within each of these major groupings:

* Genealogy>
** Randy's Family History Research>
*** Seaver-Richmond Families>
**** Books and Reports - books, reports and newsletters that I've generated
**** Genealogy Databases - my databases for FTM, Legacy, etc.
**** Localities - information by country, state, county for each locality. I chose this because there are usually several families in a given locality.
**** Master Lists - A master source list, a repository list, a to-do list, a list of resources by surname, etc.
**** Surnames

The key folder here is Surnames - in the Surnames folder I am putting only surnames, e.g.:

**** Surnames>
***** Auble-Able
***** Carringer
***** Hildreth
***** Seaver
***** Smith-MA-Norfolk County
***** Smith-NY-Wis-Neb

etc. I've created over 30 surname folders already, and will have several hundred (which is why I want to break them up into family groups!). When surnames are duplicated, I'll put the state(s) and counties (in necessary).

Within each specific Surname folder, I will have each known ancestral family (for example):

***** Carringer>
****** 01-Lyle L Carringer and Emily K Auble
****** 02-Henry Austin Carringer and Della Smith
****** 03-David J Carringer and Rebecca Spangler
****** 04-Henry Carringer and Sarah Feather
****** 05-Martin Carringer and Magdalena Houx
****** 06-Earlier Carringers - information on earlier families with the surname
****** Correspondence - letters, emails, etc. form other researchers
****** Other Carringer Families - not my line but maybe helpful to others
****** Research Logs -- specifically for the surname - including sources searched and found something or nothing.
****** Surname Genealogy Reports

I numbered the generations of my ancestral families so that I can find information about them easily. I chose full names rather than Carringer-Auble or LLC-EKA for clarity.

One more sub-folder set - for each family in the list (for example):

***** Carringer>
****** 01-lyle l carringer and emily k auble>
******* Documents -- vital records, census, military, immigration, land, probate, obituaries, Bibles, etc. - all documents pertaining to this family.
******* Genealogy Reports -- family group sheet, descendants chart, pedigree chart, etc.
******* Photographs -- all photographs pertaining to this family
******* Published Material -- book or periodical pages pertaining to this family

There is bound to be some overlap, especially for documents, photographs, and published material, but hard drive space is relatively cheap.

I think that this will work out well in the long run. It will take some time to move all of the documents, photographs, reports, books, etc. around, but I can do it as I find time [hmmm, time is always a problem, note to self - take a day and get it done!].

The big question I have now is "where do I put my One-Name Studies for Seaver, Dill, Buck, Richmond, Vaux, Carringer, Auble, etc. " I could put them in the specific Surname folder and create families under Other Surname Families so that they are included in the surname, but I may want to break them out into their own folder. I haven't decided yet.

I think it will work better for me, especially as I scan more documents and published pages. The beauty of computer files is that you can always modify them to make the system work better. The problem is that modifying the sub-folder names for hundreds of surnames may be a time challenge. That's why defining the structure now will save time in the future.

What do you think? Will this work? What have I missed? What would you add for yourself? Is it too complicated? Help me out here!


Unknown said...


I like your folder structure in general, but one thing to keep in mind is the filename length limitation in Windows (256 characters for XP and 260 for Vista). The filename length includes the full path, so after imbedding many folders, the length can get large without realizing it.


N Seaver said...

Has anyone tried the Clooz software program for indexing their genealogical data? I started it several times but I can't seem to be able to back up my files to a disc and everytime I have a computer breakdown, there goes my Clooz program and I have to start all over. I really liked the system for helping me to locate my documents but it isn't any good if I have to spend all my research time reentering all my Clooz data.

Linda said...

I did try Clooz. As I recall you are basically linking files to names downloaded from your genealogy software. Actually FTM 2009 is more sophisticated in this process. The drawback is that if you change a file name, folder or the file path in any way, the link is lost. The only advantage of Clooz or FTM linking is that it is easier to enter comments than in the Windows properties for a file. Clooz and FTM also have a couple small reports. Since I file 1,000's of files and often make changes that affect the file path, linking is more trouble than it is worth.

Linda said...

I have been working out my computer filing for 4 years. I prefer to have fewer folder with more things in them and naming the items so they sort alphabetically. I actually use Family Line as the main folder with subfolders for event/record type (Birth, Death, Marriage, Homes, Photos, etc.) Something I do with naming marriage related files is just label it something like Anderson_Steele_MarrCert so I have the bride and grooms last name and an abbr of the type of record. For a file with an obit, I would put Anderson_Alvin_Obit. If I had multiple people with the same first/last name, then I might enter a birth date (Anderson_Alvin_b1885_Obit). The important thing is that whatever system you adopt makes sense to you.

Daisy Humphries said...

Together with the continuous technological development happening the process of documentation and medical record storage also changes. I think it's a lot more easier today compared to before cause you can access and save it easily.

Lilly Hack said...

Your ideas are really great! Have you tried scanning those documents using 3d laser scanner or white light scanners?