You Found It Now Keep It

In This Chapter

^ Constructing good record-keeping habits ^ Using a numbering system ^ Looking at some preservation methods ^ Storing your findings in RootsMagic f

■ t's the nightmare of any family historian — you spend hours researching a person, find the perfect piece of evidence you need to make a connection to your research, and then you misplace the copy of the record. We admit it. It has happened to us. But, it doesn't have to happen to you, if you keep your documents organized and easily accessible. With a good system of organization and a method of preserving important family heirlooms, you can greatly simplify your research tasks and perhaps find some direction on where to research next. This chapter examines ways of organizing and preserving genealogical information and documents using traditional storage methods and preservation techniques. It also looks at how to use genealogical software to store and organize information about your ancestors, as well as digitized documents and photographs.

Organization, Genealogy Style

We bet that you have seen the stereotypical family researcher — the type who walks into the library while trying to balance a stack of binders and loose-leafed papers. This could be you! There is no way to get around it: If you get into genealogy, you are going to collect tons of paper and photographs. After all, it's a time-honored tradition of genealogists.

Until now, you've probably used any means possible to take notes while talking with relatives about your ancestors or looking up information in the local library — from notebook paper to receipts you have in your pocket or purse to stick-on notes and paper napkins. You may have used your camera to take pictures of headstones in the cemetery where some of your ancestors are buried, or of the old family homestead that's now abandoned and barely standing.

And you've probably collected some original source documents; possibly the certified copy of your mother's birth certificate that grandma gave you, the family Bible from Aunt Lola, and the old photograph of your great-greatgrandfather as a child that you found while digging through the attic. Now what are you supposed to do with all these treasures? Organize, organize, organize!

Even if you decide to use genealogical software to track your research progress, you're always going to have paper records and photographs you want to keep. The following sections offer some tips to help you become well organized (genealogically, anyway).

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