Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Getting Organized Digitally

A while back, I wrote about revamping my organization system for paper. Now that it's in order, it's time to turn to my digital organization system. I'm one of the fence-straddlers when it comes to paper vs digital. I like to have digitized images available on my computer, but I also like to have the actual paper.

Unlike my paper files, my digital files are very disorganized. I had started setting up a system of organization earlier this year, but failed to keep up with it. As a result, my genealogy files are scattered all over my hard drive.

New hard drive to the rescue. While I didn't get the laptop I wanted at the Black Friday sale, my husband did manage to snag the last portable external hard drive for me. At 640GB, it's more than big enough to hold my genealogy files, freeing my internal hard drive up for other stuff. The fact that it's portable is an added bonus because I can take it with me when I research away from home.

Seagate 640GB external portable hard drive.

Since it's brand new and doesn't have anything on it yet, this is the perfect opportunity for me to set up a digital organization system. As I move each item from my internal hard drive to the external, I can put everything in its place. Isn't it great?

I started out by subdividing my main genealogy folder. As you can see, I have folders for books, clients, education, my side, projects and my husband Scott's side.

The books folder holds various books I've downloaded from Google Books or pages I've downloaded or scanned from other sources. It is divided into surnames and locations with each book, or portion of a book, put in one or the other.

The client file holds research I've done or am doing for clients. It is divided by client name. Each folder has subfolders for paperwork (contract, reports, etc), photographs (if I found or took any) and images of records used in the search. The records folder is further broken down by type.

In the education folder, I have subfolders for blogs, books, classes, conferences, study groups and webinars. These hold syllabi, handouts, notes and assignments. The projects folder is where I store my personal projects, including transcriptions projects, two books I'm working on and my blog tickler file.

The folders for my line and my husband's line are first broken down by maternal and paternal lines. There is also a folder for localities, which is divided by US or foreign, then by state and then by county.. The maternal and paternal folders hold a separate folder for each surname. Surname folders contain additional subfolders for various types of documents and photographs.

Subfolders in each surname folder

There is one surname folder (so far anyway) that has a breakdown before the subfolders. For surnames in which I have multiple non-connected lines, I have a main folder for the surname and then subfolders for each particular line, named by the person where the line first comes in. Then I break those folders down as usual.

Handling non-related lines with the same surname

Since some items may be filed under more than one surname and I didn't want to have to cross-reference everything, I duplicated those items so they can be filed multiple places. For instance, marriage records and photographs of married women are filed under both the bride's and the groom's surname.

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