WHO DOESN’T WANT TO BE ABLE TO LOCATE THAT BIRTH, DEATH, MARRIAGE, PROBATE, LAND RECORD OR PHOTO WITH A CLICK OR TWO OF YOUR MOUSE?
No one wants to have to search and search to try to find a document or image that you KNOW you saved to your computer. Whether it was last week or last year, you should be able to locate anything you want, easily, with a click or two of your mouse.
Here is how I do it:
- Decide where on your computer you want your genealogy information to be located. Such as in your C drive under DOCUMENTS, GENEALOGY, IMAGES. You decide where that “Master” location will be. From that point on, ALL of your images will be located in that folder and in the subsequent sub-folders you will create.
- Once you’ve decided on the MASTER folder, it’s time to create sub-folders for your surnames. This can be done several ways. If you have a small database, just individual surnames. If you have a large database with several thousand people you might want to first create a folder or folders that encompass letters of the alphabet. Such as A-K and L-Z or even smaller groups. Or you can have 26 folders, one for each letter of the alphabet. Whatever style works for you.
- Here’s what I’m talking about. I use Windows 7 so items are located in the folder:
Under each surname I want sub-folders to identify the documents/images I have saved. I want them to be very clear and very easy to identify. Birth, death, marriage, cemetery info, immigration, probate, everything.
HERE IS A SAMPLE OF THE FOLDERS I HAVE UNDER EACH SURNAME:
You can add different folders if you need something else. I have found over the years that these folders cover most everything. I rarely use the Misc. folder, but it’s there in case I run across the odd item that won’t fit elsewhere.
Just to be clear. Here are the steps:
· Create your MASTER folder in you C drive – called Genealogy or My Surnames or whatever you want.
· Create sub-folders either by surname, letters of the alphabet, family groups or whatever suits you.
· Under each surname you have a list of sub-folders to easily identify your items. Create these sub folders just ONCE (see my instructions below) and keep them where you can find them. Then copy & paste them under each surname.
· Move each of the appropriate items to the folders you have created. Your genealogy program (at least with Legacy), will then search for the files in their new locations. In Legacy, once it’s located one or two, it will locate the others.
HOW TO AVOID HAVING TO REPRODUCE THOSE SUB-FOLDERS FOR
EVERY SINGLE SURNAME
I created a folder under C:/GENEALOGY called “Gene-folders for each surname file.”
Then I created each of the folders that I wanted under each surname. See Exhibit A.
I do this just ONE time and then I highlight the folders, copy & paste them into each of the surname folders. BINGO! You are done and ready to move on.
NOTE: Shortcuts that make it even easier.
Ctrl A to highlight the folders you want to place in the surname folder
Ctrl C to copy copies the highlighted folders. Now go to your surname folder &
Ctrl V to paste these sub folders in the surname folder.
The keyboard shortcuts above can be used for anything and will save you tons of time, no matter what you are copying & pasting.
Let’s say I’m looking for a birth or death record for someone with the surname HART.
Here are examples. I want to find a birth record for Henry G. Hart. You can see that I’ve clicked on birth under the Hart surname and there are all my records. It's easy to find Henry G. Hart on the list.
Now I want to find a HART death record for Emma Hart. I go to the HART surname folder, then click on "death-obits," then on the right hand side you see all the death records and can easily locate Emma's record.
How easy was that?
LET’S TALK ABOUT NAMING YOUR DOCUMENTS/IMAGES
We all or at least most of us started out with file names like, Grandma, Easter 1910, or my Mom in 1950.
We have learned that those file names don’t work. In fact, if that kind of identifier is written on the back of any photo we should “fix” it so that someone in the future knows who this person is.
These rules apply to ALL photos and to documents.
Whether you are scanning & saving them, or you grab them from a website. Whether they are census records, birth records, probate records or family photos.
There MUST be a file naming standard.
I use this rule for naming all of my files.
WHO, WHAT, WHEN AND WHERE
I begin with the LAST NAME IN CAPS, then proceed from there with the first name (if known), what the record is and then when & where. You may use underscores or space between the items. You might not always have all 4 pieces of information, but you record what you do have.
In viewing the sample above for the HART family, you can see how easy it is to locate a record using this method.
NOTE: Use of the A-L, M-Z folders - I created these misc. folders for those surnames that I don't think I will do very much research on. Like perhaps a 4th cousin twice removed, or grandfather of your great uncle's wife's father. Maybe you were only looking at them to try and find more information on a particular person. You might only want to save one or two documents. To me this doesn't generate a whole new surname folder. I still create the sub folders under the A-Z folder so I can locate items easily.
If you should find that a particular surname that started in the A-Z folder has now become more of a focus and you are saving a lot of documents or images, then just create a surname folder and the sub folders and transfer the images to those files by using copy and paste.
I have had to do this, but not very often. I still find the A-Z folder useful for my purposes.
Now multiply this by how many times you are searching for a record and you will find that having a system is worth its weight in gold. It may take you a little bit of time to create your system, but in the end you will be forever grateful for having done it. I know that back when I had to come up with something that would actually WORK, it made my life going forward a thousand times easier.
I certainly hope this has been helpful. If you have comments, please share them with me. I’d love to hear your success stories too. Did this system work for you once you implemented it? Have you come up with an even better system? I’m all ears.
COPYRIGHT © 2013 Diane Gould Hall All rights reserved