Saturday, October 15, 2016
For the past 15 years, I have printed copies of my genealogical research -- birth, marriage and death records, census forms, and immigration and military service records -- and then filed them in notebooks. Before filing them, I would create an "Individual Research Record" that would include all of the pertinent information about that individual, including sources, in a concise form. I even printed that record sheet on fuchsia paper for the females and aqua paper for the males. It served as my cover sheet for the individual's documents.
As a visual learner, this paper and notebook system worked well for me. I could actually see the information in my hands and filling out the individual research record helped me digest and analyze the information. Of course, it also took up my time. Time that I was filing and filling out forms could have been time that I should have been researching or entering my research into my Roots Magic computer program.
As time went on my research documents and notebooks seemed to expand exponentially. The good news was that the kids went away to college so there was more room for my now 25+ large notebooks. The bad news was how large was this going to get? How many rooms can I devote specifically to genealogy research and storage? Can you be a genealogical hoarder?
So, last week I made a huge decision -- it was time to digitize my genealogical research! Time to slowly get rid of my 25+ notebooks -- well after those records had been digitized. I guess I could have researched the best way to go digital but while I read some of those articles in the past, once again I needed to find a system that would work the best for me.
I created folders on my computers for each of the family branches -- Homrich, Sherlock, Chambers, etc. Then within each of those folders are sub-folders for the individuals that I have already researched. Going through each notebook, I then digitally save the documents as well as the fact sheet about the person on Ancestry. I also have created an Excel spreadsheet for each of the family branches with the names and documents saved so that at a quick glance I can see what I already have and what I still need to look for.
I know that this digitization project will not only take some time (probably several months) and also be probably rather monotonous at times but it will be worth it in the long run. I will not only have a lot more time to do actual research but will actually have rooms in my house that can be "guest rooms" instead of storage rooms!