Friday, December 19, 2008

Update on Tuesday's Tip: Organizing Your Digital Files

I had a wonderful response to my post on Tuesday, and I'd like to publicly thank all who dropped by, especially those who left comments. Isn't this system terrific? I only wish I could take credit for it, but I can't. :-) I think what makes Barbara Nuehring's organization technique so great is that it really is very simple, plus it adapts well to people's needs and personal styles. That's what's great about any good filing plan: if you can't make it work for you, then it just won't work at all, no matter how many people rave about it!

In this post, I'd like to address a couple of comments I received, as well as some other clarifications I felt the original post needed. First of all, as with any filing system, you need to determine what it is you will keep and file--or not. For some people, they are only interested in keeping information on their direct ancestral lines. I personally keep information on many collateral lines (siblings, cousins), because I know that in order to break down brick walls, I must research "sideways" in my family tree. I haven't kept all collateral information, however; on those lines that have been easy to research and lots of documentation has been found, I stick fairly closely to the direct ancestral information. For those brick wall lines I've worked hard on, I'll keep every little tidbit of documentation wherever I can find it, since I never know which clue will break me through my obstacles.

Also, in order to streamline my physical files and folders, I'm trying to become as paperless as possible. My eventual plan is to go through all the physical files, scan what is necessary, toss what isn't (I have lots of duplicate and irrelevant printed documents and e-mails), and place in my safety deposit box all original or difficult-to-replace papers and photographs. What all this means is that I'm going to have to really get my digital files in order, and I believe this plan will really work well for me. Of course, going digital means having an efficient and dependable backup plan, and that's where Carbonite is my hero!

Again, the how of your naming system should fit your personal needs and taste. Some people will want punctuation of some sort (dashes, underscores, commas, periods, etc.) within the file name; others will prefer none at all. These named files will be most useful for analyzing if you have them in the List view in Windows Explorer. See the images below:

Click on the image above for a better view.

Apple brought up the very important issue of double cousins. Double cousins are children born as a result of two individuals in one family (siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews) marrying two individuals from another family. The adults who marry can be in the same generation as your ancestors or off by a generation or two (which is the case for the double cousins in both my own and my husband's family trees). These double cousins are related to you in two family lines. Where do you file the children's records--with their mother's family, their father's family, or both? My answer is to file the children with the father's family records, because that is the surname they were born with. It's the same premise as filing a woman's records under her maiden last name. Again, that is what makes sense and works for me; do what works for you. I also file what records I keep for sons-, daughters-, sisters- and brothers-in-law of ancestors in the folder of the family that they marry into.

All right, now to start writing next week's tip!

In this series:
Tuesday's Tip: Organizing Your Digital Files
Tuesday's Tip: Organizing Your Digital Photographs
Tuesday's Tip: Organizing Digital Research Notes, Emails, and Reports
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