Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dear Randy: "What Is Your Naming Convention for Downloaded Documents?"

On the Mondays With Myrt Hangout On Air yesterday, we discussed how we name our downloaded files and save them in our computer file folders.  This was in response to Tessa Keough's question:

"Can Russ tell us his convention for naming his downloaded documents?"

A number of the panelists, and some of the commenters on the Google+ thread, shared their naming conventions for files.  I didn't comment because I knew that Pat had several more topics to discuss, and my naming convention was similar to what others had already said.

However, my Genea-Musings readers may be interested (I know I've commented on this before), so i'll try to summarize it here.

My file folder and file naming convention was derived after studying what others had suggested.  There are two major parts to it:

1)  File Folder naming:

I have all of my downloaded and scanned document and photo images stored in a file folder system that incorporates:

*  My Documents/Genealogy   ---  File folder for genealogy
*  My Documents/Genealogy/Ancestor Files/  --- file folder for Ancestor Files
*  My Documents/Genealogy/Ancestor Files/Family History - "familygroup" -- I have grouped my files by family group (my father, my mother, my wife's, my son-in-law
*  My Documents/Genealogy/Ancestor Files/Family History - "familygroup"/"surname" --  within each family group, I have a surname folder
*  My Documents/Genealogy/Ancestor Files/Family History - "familygroup"/"surname"/"family" --- each family (husband and wife) has a separate file folder
*  My Documents/Genealogy/Ancestor Files/Family History - "familygroup"/"surname"/"family"/ "filetype" --- within each surname folder, I have several different file types (typically documents, Reports and Photographs

Within each of the "filetype" folders are the document and photograph images and saved genealogy reports, articles or books.

Here are some screen shots of the different file folders:

a)  The "Ancestor Files" folder:

This is also where I keep my master lists of items, any testing before I incorporate it, and the records "to be filed" after downloading and entering them into my genealogy family tree software.

b)  The "Surname" file folders  in the "Family History - Seaver-Hildreth-Richmond-White" file folder:

If I have more than one surname line for a surname, I usually add a place name to distinguish them.

c)  The "Family" file folder in the "Seaver-Hildreth-Richmond-White" file folder:

I number my families starting with 01 for the most recent generation with that surname.  I also add additional file folders for the surname when necessary - e.g., a surname book, collected records from vital record books or a website, etc.

d)  In each of these "Family" file folders are the "Filetype" folders:

The Genealogy Reports folder might contain family group sheets, pedigree charts, narrative reports, downloaded or scanned articles or book portions, etc.  Whatever might apply to the particular family.

For families with a large number of members, I include a folder for "Related Families" - to cover the aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

e)  Within each of the "Filetype" folders are the individual files (in the "Documents" and "Photographs" folders at least):

2)  The File Naming Convention in the Filetype folder above usually has these components, separated by a hyphen:

:*  Person's name - first name, middle initial, last name (I use first name first so that all of the records for a family member are grouped together),  I don't use spaces between the parts of the name.
*  Year - the year of the event (I put it second so that the records for a person are in chronological order)
*  Record Type - the type of record in the file 
*  Additional persons in the record - spouses, multi-person pictures, etc.
*  Place Name - the locality where the event occurred
*  Any other useful information - a source name, page number or image number

The file names can get fairly long!  But they are descriptive.  

I include records of children in their parents file folder until they marry.  Then they go into their own file folder with their spouse.

I have some inconsistencies in the file names shown above because of the passage of time, and don't want to change them.  As my readers know, I am often imperfect, but always trying to improve (except for typing, it seems).

3)  With this system, I know exactly where to find a record for a specific person.  When I open the Filetype folder, I can find the records for a person in the specific family easily - they're in alphabetical order by first name.  

The downside is that there's a lot of clicking to go through the file folder hierarchy to get to the right file folder.

4)  If you are considering creating a File Naming convention, be sure to do it before you attach the records to a person or event in your genealogy family tree software program. 

Develop your convention, practice with it a bit, tweak it to suit your purposes, and then adopt it and use it for all of your downloaded and scanned records and photographs, and for any genealogy reports or books you create. 

Your file system needs to be yours - what works for you - and you can set it up any way you want.  This method works for me really well and I'm happy that I created it before I started adding images to my genealogy software program.

The URL for this post is: http://www.geneamusings.com/2013/12/dear-randy-what-is-your-naming.html

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Diane Gould Hall said...

Well, who knew that was what was discussed this past Monday with Myrte? I didn't. We all have methods that are comfortable for us. Whatever method we choose should be easy to use and allow us to find images of docs & pics quickly.
I wrote about this on my blog yesterday. My system is a bit different than yours, but with the same end result.
You can read about my system of folders at http://www.michiganfamilytrails.com/2013/12/digital-folder-organizing-naming-made.html

Til next time,