Why it’s ok to be a (slightly) disorganized genealogist

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I realize I may be preaching heresy, but I think genealogists get way too caught up in the “right” way  of organizing family tree research. In fact, if organizing is on your New Year’s resolution list, let me explain why I think it shouldn’t be.

It’s Okay to be a Semi-Organized Genealogist

I’ve known family tree people who have book shelves filled with three-ring binders for each surname they’re researching; within the binder are tabs for each family member and within those tabs are more tabs for copies of documents. Nothing wrong with that. But I think it’s possible to get so caught up in organizing the “right” way that we sacrifice research time for organizing time.

Here’s how I look at it:

I don't feel a need to be an ultra-organized #genealogistClick To Tweet

Here’s why:  I have a computer folder for each surname. When I find something relating to the surname, I save it to the computer folder. I do my best to name the file something that makes sense, i.e. Jame Knox Civil War Pension.  This simple organizing method makes it pretty easy for me to find something and I don’t spend much time creating an ultra-organized system. Because I don’t have to.

When I’m using Ancestry and a document relating to the family appears, I save it to my family tree on Ancestry AND I download it into the surname folder on my computer. This way I have it attached to the family tree on Ancestry and I have it saved in a logical place on my computer.

I have two genealogy goals at this point in my life:

  1. Track down the origin of my own surname – those tricky, elusive, well-hidden Hendricksons.
  2. Find as many stories about ancestors as possible.

So spending a ton of time creating a complex organizational system just doesn’t make sense for me. Again, if I can find it, why go beyond the simple? I’m as organized a genealogist as I want to be.

Anyone out there agree with me? Disagree? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!

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