As part of my ongoing genealogical housekeeping and attempt to get organised, it is time to turn my attention to my paper files and get a decent system in place. Many of my current folders are overflowing and I have several small folders/wallets and loose papers that need filing.
My filing system, such as it was, consisted of four surname folders (wide 4 D-ring presentation binders) and one general research folder (a smaller 4 D-ring presentation binder) which holds general research material such as leaflets about archives or The National Archives research guides. On top of those I have several small wallets and folders for current research projects.
The surname folders are the biggest problem, due to the space issue, which stems from the fact that there are only four of them (one for each grandparent) and any surname that is related to that grandparent (usually their ancestors, but not always) goes in that folder. For example all the BATEMAN and KINGHORN research paperwork should go in the TROWER surname folder, but there just isn’t room.
Some folders are fuller than others and other folders have appeared, but I think the solution to my problem is in what I actually keep rather than adding more folders into the system, which I don’t have the shelf space for anyway. I need to be ruthless and only keep original stuff, like BMD certificates or anything else I have paid for that I don’t have a digital copy of, or couldn’t easily re-print if I needed to.
It may seem a waste be throwing so much paper, getting rid of family group sheets and census images but there really is no need to keep a paper copy once I have used them. Going forward I will try and go paperless as much as possible. With the addition of a netbook into my research toolkit it should mean I don’t need to print family group sheets or individual reports because I will have all that information at my fingertips when I am out and about.
Obviously it goes without saying that nothing of historical or sentimental value will be thrown out, all that is stored elsewhere so that is safe (some of it may need digitising but that is a whole other story). I just need to check that everything I am about to throw out is captured somewhere in my digital files before it gets recycled.
Tomorrow, if I get time, I will tell you how I plan to organise my new filing system.