Wait a minute… I think I may be organized.
Recently I've been working on my own family’s genealogy for a change. I have all the usual papers: other researchers’ results, journal articles, original documents and photocopies, false starts with “not ours” scrawled on them and the rest. It occurred to me that I can usually find the papers I need to start working on a family line. They're in specific places.
There are three-ring binders of all sizes. A friend ran a thrift store for years, so I acquired a lot of them over time. They’re labeled with surnames or family groups who intermarried in a certain place and time, such as Gilliam and Mabry, Dawson and Maroney, Sheppard and Steele. This is one of my favorites:
The notebooks were created to hold the detritus I collected about 1995–2005, haphazard but with an updated family tree, group sheets, and a register report at the front. I add new data and revisit the old as I find time.
Indexes, articles, transcriptions and such are in clear plastic covers. At one point I was meticulous enough to label the edges. There are other files, file jackets, pressboard-covered papers and such, but they’re pretty much with the covered articles.
And then there’s The Great Unfiled. When I find or create a page on one or another of my hundreds of ancestors, what do I do with it? It doesn’t fit anywhere. It might be Trial Data, possibly family but not yet connected. Sometimes it’s a brilliant idea I had in the shower and rushed to write down later. All that is in an alpha sorter, which I always check before I start working on a family line. It says on the front, or would if the label hadn’t fallen off, I try to use the alphabet whenever I can. —Radar O’Reilly
Oh… there’s a pile of those here in my office too. It doesn’t take up much space, though.
I have a Name Index book listing everybody with their BMD’s, one list by surname, the other by birth date. My mom’s side and my dad’s side have separate sections. Hmmm… the index is pretty old. It’s time to update, but I don’t know whether FTM 2011 will generate the list. Must check.
My original documents are lying quietly in a wooden drawer and a nice box from Garfinckel's that had my sister's wedding veil in it in 1956. There are newspaper clippings, birth/death certificates, programs from my dad’s appearances in the Tech Show at MIT in the 1920s, etc. His baby book (ca 1900) and my second great-grandfather’s book of sermons (ca 1850) are on the shelf in the wall unit with other family-related books.
Anyway, that's the lot. What I need to do is pull out a lot of the fun stuff to take to my grandniece's wedding at the end of the month. The relatives aren't much interested in pedigrees, but we have some good stories. I really wish I had heard my father play the saxophone. I don't know what happened to it. I do have the baton he used to lead the band, though.