Friday, February 5

Organization 101: Binders (Part 1)

Having dabbled in all three main methods of genealogical organization, I have finally settled on my final course of action: binders.  File folders proved too flimsy and I failed to keep any genealogy computer programme I tried (PAF, Family Tree Maker, Broker's Keeper...) updated (plus, we're now on our fourth computer since the ancestor hunt began - and I've lost whatever information I've had on each...).

Thus, the Binder Method.

That's the easy part.  Now the trick is to decide how to internally organize the material: family binders divided by surname, by location, or by random (or specific) number; binders per material type vs. "coffee-table" binder; colour-coding woes; and so on.

Below are a few online articles discussing various methods.  Stay tuned for part 2...

Internet Resources:

"Clear your clutter" (part 1) and (part 2) podcasts from GenealogyonDemand and the accompanying handout (Oct/Nov 2006)

"Organizing Your Paper Files Using Binders (Notebooks)" from

"In a Pile or a File: A Guide to Organizing Genealogical Research" by Rita F. Bartholomew (2001) [note: includes a few archival no-nos - metal clips, eek! - but the booklet is excellent otherwise]

"Organize your paper files" (in combination with a computer program)

Elyse90505's Channel on YouTube - includes videos for: "How I organize my genealogy", "How To Create A Research Binder", "How to Organize Your Genealogy Part 1", and "How to Organize Your Genealogy Part 2", as well as the blog entry "Organizing the Paper Mountain, Part 2", all by Elyse Doerflinger

"Binders, Notebooks or Folders? Organizing Your Genealogy Files" by Kimberly Powell (

"A Guide to Organizing Paper Genealogy Files" here and here (this one w/pictures!) by Wayne Hinton, Hinton Genealogy Research (1997)

"Guide to Organizing Your Genealogy Files" by Shannon Wakeland (eHow)

"How to Organize Genealogy with Binders: Notebook Sections for Family Surnames, Documents, Locations" by Jennifer Jensen (, 2009)

"Digging Out From the Paper Pile" from

"Organizing Your Research" by Diana Smith (

"Another Sort of A to Z: Your Genealogy Filing System" by Donna Przecha (

"Organizing Your Home Records" by Lisa Noirot (Summit County chapter, Ohio Genealogical Society, 2001)

DearMyrtle's checklists of organization: January 2009, February 2009, March 2009, April 2009, May 2009, June 2009 [note: while these cover much more than just binders, they're a great series of articles!]

"Get It Together" series of organizational articles by Elizabeth Kelley Kirstens (, 1999-2000)

"How do I keep all this stuff straight?" George G. Morgan ("Along those lines",, 1998) [note: this is one of the first articles I ever accessed - and subsequently printed off...]

"Organization is the Key!" series of lessons from

"Keeping Track of Cousins" by Christine Sievers (, 2000)

"Organizing Family History Records" by Marina Garrison (

"Organizing Your Papers" - a series of 4 articles from "Legacy News" (2006)

"Develop an Organizational Plan: One That Will Grow as Your Research Grows" by Phyllis Matthews Ziller (

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