Time to rejoice and celebrate! My stuff to sort folder has finally been sorted. Hurrah!
This mean that all my notes are now on computer in one form or another and subsequently being backed up.
Also all my original documents, such as birth, marriage and death certificates, which I am not throwing away have been scanned and are being safely backed up to.
It was back on the August 2009 that I first decided that I needed to get my filing sorted out. Nearly four months later I have finished sorting the paper side of things.
Now I need to start on my hard drive. A directory of folders on my hard drive is nowhere near as daunting as a physical folder of paper, and to be honest there is no rush to my digital folders organised.
They are not going to get lost or destroyed (famous last words) and they are not going to get in the way because they don’t take up too much space.
There are however two things I would like to do now in terms of organising:
- I need to come up with some standardisation for my file and folder names, and stick to it.
- Go through my Reference Material folder and see if there is anything I actually need to keep in there. I suspect not.
My head is spinning, I think I have over done it today, I have indulged in too much organising and I don’t know whether I am coming or going at the moment. I am sure that when I close my eyes to go to sleep I will still be able to see census images!
I have spent much of the day going through folders and sorting out stuff again. The spare bedroom is looking much tidier now, and I am almost at the point where I wanted to be by the end of the week, I have a small pile of papers to go through tomorrow and then everything will be in folders or in the bin.
There are still three or four certificates to scan, but at the moment I don’t have the energy to get up and lift the scanner lid (actually clear the books from the top first then lift the scanner lid), so those will have to wait until tomorrow.
I have added several individuals and families to Family Historian, as well as filling in lots of census data and other stuff that I should have done before. It has been surprising today just how many loose ends I still have, it has been quite useful visiting old research again as it has reminded me of much I still need to do and how I really ought to finish one thing off properly before moving onto something else.
This whole organising process is really making me think long and hard about how I go about my research, I certainly need to make sure I never print out another census image unless I really have to. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have seen Thomas KINGHORN in the 1851 census today.
The other thing it has brought home is how huge my family tree is becoming, I have been all over the place today revisiting ancestors from many parts of England (although mostly the South East) and across many years, and it really is becoming very difficult to remember what I have and haven’t done. Once I have everything organised I really need to have a thorough review of my tree (perhaps down to every individual) and decide what else I would like to do.
Organising fatigue is starting to set in, I feel I have made great progress in sorting out my folders, but I need a break and want to get back to some proper research this weekend.
Sorting out my paper files hasn’t been without it’s problems, although on the whole it has been a lot easier than I expected. One problem occurred when I wanted to save a page from a website as a pdf so that I could throw out the paper copy. I checked the website, but it had changed, the information I wanted was no longer there, and the URL I had wasn’t working either. So for now it looks like I shall have the keep the paper copy. A perfect example of the fact that the internet doesn’t stay the same. I haven’t tried the Wayback Machine to see if there is a copy of the site still there.
I have just one big folder to go, and it is the biggest folder, the TROWER surname folder. After that I just have to sort through the odds and ends that I have lying around and the papers I have put to one side so that I can devote more time to them.
I have been looking at my family tree deciding what to do next. At first I was looking at Family Historian and the women who appeared at the top of the list of names because they have no surname (I have eleven of them at the moment), I really ought to find the maiden names for these women, especially as some of them are direct ancestors.
Then I sorted the records window by the date updated column, and scrolled to the bottom of the list where I would find those individuals who I hadn’t worked on for a long time. The earliest one was Herbert SEYMOUR, husband of my 2x great aunt Edith Ellen TROWER. I hadn’t done any work on him since the 14th October 2006. It is definitely time I added so more information on him, as I have very little on there at the moment.
There are three other individuals that I haven’t worked on since 2006, and a lot from the beginning of 2007 (mostly recent MITCHELL relations such as great aunts and uncles). So there is plenty of scope for research there, especially when you consider how much has changed online since the end of 2006.
Whatever I chose to research over the weekend you can be sure I won’t be printing off any more paper if I can help it!
Organising my paper folders is proving to be quite a rewarding task. I know I still have much to do, but I can already see the benefits of my new system. I think much of it boils down to the fact that ultimately I will have everything in one place and the advantages that this will bring.
It will be much easier to find things – I will only have one place to look for things, my hard drive. On top of this there is the added advantage of the Windows search function as well. No need to spend hours hunting through folders, wondering where that piece of paper was filed or if it was ever filed at all.
Less duplication of effort – Really a spin off from the fact that everything will be easier to find, I should be able to find out almost instantly whether I have already searched/found a piece of information.
Everything will be backed up – I will gain tremendous piece of mind knowing that all my remaining paper documents will have digital copies as a backup and in turn those digital backups will be backed up on a regular basis.
Liberating my research – It will be so liberating to be able to carry every single piece of my research around with me on my netbook, whether I am going on a research trip or just visiting relatives.
Making me review my research – The organising process is making me revisit most of my research, and highlighting areas that I need to follow up on, and things that have been missed. My to-do list is filling up quite nicely.
All that being said, it is not an easy process and is going to take some discipline to actually keep it going, but I can already see that it is worth the effort. Once I have sorted all my paper I will then need to focus on the digital side of things and get that more organised as well.
Most of last weeks goals fell by the wayside as I got a bee in my bonnet about getting organised and purging my paper files. I still have much sorting and filing to do so this week is going to be pretty much all about organising.
- Continue the work I have already done sorting out my folders and capturing the data on my PC. I would like to get the bulk of the folders emptied this week, leaving only some of the more time consuming tasks to be completed in the following week.
- I didn’t get the opportunity to walk home from work last week, so I didn’t get to see New House Farm, Nuthurst, Sussex where my 4x great grandparents Henry and Catherine GASSON were living in 1841. So I will try again this week, although the weather doesn’t look to promising.
- I would still like to do some housekeeping on my blog. I need to review the categories and such like, update my blogroll and just make it look better, maybe a new header image and few other pictures in the sidebar and my profile needs a once over again.
- NO NEW RESEARCH UNTIL I HAVE GOT ALL MY FOLDERS ORGANISED. So please Ancestry.co.uk and any other data providers, no new databases this week!
- Find the quickest and simplest method for keeping my PC and netbook synchronised.
I am sure I won’t be able to avoid doing some research, that is just not possible, but I already have so much material to sort through that I don’t need any more just yet.
If anyone has any suggestions for synchronising my PC and netbook I would love to hear them.
I think one weekend is definitely not going to be long enough to get all my folders organised, admittedly I didn’t get started quite as early as I had planned but there seems an almost never ending pile of papers to shift through.
I am taking a quick break from the organising to sit in the garden and get away from the computer and the piles of paper. The sun is slowly disappearing, it hasn’t been that hot for most of the day, but it is still nice to feel the warmth of the evening sun on me.
I am in the middle of entering extracts from various directories into a spreadsheet. I’m not sure when I extracted these, some time last year I think. Having them on a spreadsheet is going to make them much more accessible, and who knows eventually I might get around to using them in my family history.
The pile of scrap paper is growing rapidly and my hard drive is filling up, although I am finding that a lot of the stuff I am going through is already on the computer in one way or another. I am adding notes to my to do list, so eventually I will come back to my hard drive and sort through all the stuff that is on there as well.
Anyway time to get back to the organising, and I need to keep reminding myself that my research will be so much easier when it is all sorted.
At the end of the organising process I would like to have achieved the following goals:
- To have only three folders of paper. One containing original family documents* (arranged alphabetically by surname with dividers). The second folder should contain just general research material and a third to hold documents relating to current research projects in separate pockets/wallets.
- All the original family documents, whether they are in the family documents folder or the current research folder, should be scanned so that I have digital copies as a backup (see my post on reviewing my backup strategy), and all the data from them should have been extracted where possible and added to my Family Historian database.
*These are modern documents such as copies of birth, marriage and death certificates and copies of wills. Things that could be replaced, but would cause additional expense and inconvenience if I had to do so. This doesn’t include historical documents or old photos, that need proper storage in archival boxes, those will be addressed separately.