Family History Episode 32 – Organize Your Genealogy Files, Part 1

Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast
with Lisa Louise Cooke
Republished May 20, 2014

family history genealogy made easy podcast

Listen to the free genealogy podcast

https://lisalouisecooke.com/familyhistorypodcast/audio/fh32.mp3

Download the Show Notes for this Episode

Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-09. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.

Episode 32: Organize Your Genealogy Files, Part 1

Hard drive organization is one of the great challenges that quickly faces new genealogists—and often continues to plague experienced researchers. In today’s episode I’m going to share a system I’ve developed for organizing your computer hard drive files so that you can quickly and easily locate any document. I’ve been using this system for almost a decade and it’s never failed me. So set down your family tree, just for a little while, and put on your apron as we get ready to do some hard drive spring cleaning and organization!

Self-discipline and organization for the genealogist can be our greatest challenge. But it can lead to our greatest research victories!

Think about it. Your amazing research finds become pretty useless if you can’t locate it whenever you need it. And in fact, it has the potential to become a HUGE time and money waster because when you do need it again, you’re going to have to retrace your tracks, find it again at the original source, and pay whatever additional costs that requires.

So each time you’re tempted to toss that record in a pile on your desk or in some non-descript catch all folder on your computer’s hard drive because you’re in a hurry, just remember that in the long run it’s going to slow you WAY down when you want to retrieve it, and ultimately it’s going to dramatically hinder your overall research.

In these next few episodes I’m going to share the hard drive organization system I’ve created for use in Windows. My goal with this system is that I can locate the corresponding electronic file on my computer for any fact in my database in seconds.

Getting Started

At your computer open Windows Explorer. Now on most computers the C drive is the main drive that you store your files on.  But if not just double click on the drive where you want to store your computer files.

Select the C drive by clicking on it and go up to the menu and select FILE – NEW FOLDER. In most versions of Windows, you can also just right click on the C drive and select NEW – FOLDER. You’ll see that the label for the folder will be highlighted so that you can name it – so just type GENEALOGY and press ENTER and you will now have a folder on your C drive called Genealogy.  Everything’s going to go into this folder.

Overview of Computer Folders:

Setting up folders on your computer is a lot like setting up a filing system in your office.  Think of the Genealogy Folder that we just created as a larger drawer in your desk.  In that drawer you would put folders for all the major headings of work that you do.  And each of these hanging files have a lot of folders in them with sub headings.  And within each of these file folders you could even have more folders.

Well, your computer hard drive can be organized much the same way.  And you can create all the folders you want.

There are general items having to do with your genealogy research such as:

  • Charts and files
  • Forms
  • History topics
  • Research trip materials
  • General timelines
  • Genealogy societies or organizations
  • and other things that don’t pertain to a particular family in your family tree.

But the folders I want to focus in on are the ones that do apply to your family lines.  So we’re going to create a folder inside the Genealogy folder called SURNAMES RESEARCHING. How to Create the SURNAMES RESEARCHING Folder:

  1. Click on the GENEALOGY folder to select it
  2. Go to the Menu and click on FILE
  3. Select NEW
  4. Select FOLDER
  5. Name the folder

In next week’s episode I’m going to focus on organizing my family tree which will take us into the heart of this system.

Revitalize and Organize Your Genealogy: Colorado All-day Seminar with Lisa Louise Cooke

Do you want to revitalize your genealogy energy, boost your online research skills, and better organize your many family history discoveries? Join Lisa Louise Cooke at the “Reinvigorate Your Research” all-day seminar in Denver, Colorado, hosted by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado.

Jewish genealogy society

Genealogists seem to face some universal challenges. Like, how to research online more effectively and efficiently. How to organize what you find (especially when discoveries are spread across various websites and in paper files). Knowing which technology tools to invest in, and how to master them. Genealogy and technology expert Lisa Louise Cooke can help you with all these challenges–in person, in fact, at this upcoming all-day event in Denver, Colorado.

Organize Your Genealogy, Revitalize Your Research

Here’s what you’ll want to know about this event:

What: “Reinvigorate Your Research with Lisa Louise Cooke:” Annual All-Day Seminar by JGSCO
Where: Jewish Community Center, Social Hall, 350 S. Dahlia St, Denver
When: Sunday, October 15, 9:00 am – 3:30 pm (doors open at 8:00 am for registration)
Hosted by: Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado
Registration: Register online by October 9, 2017
BONUS: Cost of admission ($20 members/$35 nonmembers) includes continental-style breakfast, snacks, and a Kosher buffet-style lunch.

Lisa’s host, The Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado, has chosen a fantastic lineup of Lisa’s lectures that really do hit on all those pain points we have. Here’s what classes you’ll get to enjoy all day on Sunday, October 15:

get-organized-Genealogy-Gems-Membership

How to Organize All this Genealogy Stuff! Save yourself future frustration and disappointment by putting a solid genealogy organizational plan in place for all the types of items that will be coming your way.

  • Organizing All This Paper! The Physical Items Organization System
  • Organizing All That Genealogical Data! The Family Tree Data Organization System
  • Organizing All These Digital Files! The Digital Organization System
  • Organizing All that Web Information! The Online Notetaking System

Google Search and Google Books: Tools for Every Day. Discover Google search tools and new ways for using them to solve the genealogical challenges you face. Learn the secrets of getting more than you ever imagined from the largest online collection of digitized books–Google Books. With 25 million books, many of which are digitized and fully searchable, Google Books should be the first place to which you turn as you climb your family tree. Learn how to make the most of this goldmine chock full of historical data with little-known techniques.

Time Travel with Google Earth. Get ready to experience old historic maps, genealogical records, images, and videos coming together to create stunning time travel experiences in the free Google Earth program. We’ll incorporate automated changing boundaries, and uncover historic maps that are built right into Google Earth. Tell time travel stories that will truly excite your non-genealogist relatives! You’ve never seen anything like this class!

Future Technology and Genealogy: 5 Strategies You Need. Envision your genealogy as technology speeds ahead into the future. There are five key strategies that you can employ right now that will make the ride easier and the results more exciting than ever. Discover the paradigm shift that will make it easy to find the right technology for your needs and learn how to capitalize on how technology is changing the flow of information.

Bring Lisa Home with You

Genealogy Gems - Family History Podcast and WebsiteI’m sorry if you’ll miss this event–Lisa’s seminar attendees always leave with a new list of strategies they can’t wait to try. (I’ve actually seen people sneak onto their devices during her presentations and start trying the apps, search strategies, and tools she’s talking about. It’s like they can’t wait after she shows them what’s possible.)

You can bring Lisa home with an annual Genealogy Gems Premium membership. Premium members have exclusive access to a packed archive of video classes–including a new class on Google Books and an entire series to help you organize your genealogy “stuff.” You also get ongoing tips and inspiration in her monthly Premium Podcast (and access to all past episodes). It’s the most affordable and consistently high-quality, tech-forward genealogy education around. And you can start trying her tips any time you like.

Beginning Genealogy – Get Started Here

If you are new to genealogy and family history, you are in the right place. Here’s a game plan for learning the ropes, getting inspired and making quick progress.

beginner genealogy

The Genealogy Gems Blog

 

READStart by reading 4 Beginning Genealogy Answers to Get You Started

This article comes from a large collection of articles on our website just right for beginners. Our blog post articles are organized by topic.

All you need to do to find all of our past Beginning Genealogy articles is head to our website’s home page  (image right) and use our Select Content by Topic menu.

You’ll find it at the top left just under the main red menu. Click the down arrow and select “Beginner” from the list. This will display all our past Beginner-friendly articles on your screen starting with the most recent. (Or simply click here to go right to the Beginner article search results.)

Our Podcasts

READThe free Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast (like an online radio show) is sort of a “Genealogy 101” class.

Each episode is about 30 minutes long, and it will start you at the beginning and walk you through the genealogy research process.

You’ll find it not only educational but also inspirational. You’ll hear from expert genealogists about research strategies, as well as their own inspirational stories that will help motivate you to succeed in climbing your family tree!

Here’s where you can listen to the Family History podcast:

  •  iTunes
  • Apple’s Podcasts app
  • On this Genealogy Gems website here

There are 45 episodes in the series. By the time you get to the end, you’ll be well on your way and ready to dig into to The Genealogy Gems Podcast. This is an ongoing monthly podcast with hundreds of episodes for your family history listening pleasure!

The Videos

WATCHThe Genealogy Gems YouTube channel is packed with free videos on a wide variety of genealogical topics. We group them by category into “Playlists” for your convenience.

Below you can watch our Beginning Genealogy playlist of videos. Simply click the icon in the upper left corner of the video player and scroll through the list. As we add new videos we will continue to add videos to the playlist.

 

DNA – Genetic Genealogy

dna
New to DNA?
Watch the video below which features our own DNA expert Diahan Southard. She explains DNA testing for genealogy is a wonderful, easy-to-understand way.

Want more from your DNA results?
If you have started your family history journey by getting your DNA tested, you will want to get the most from your results.  Your results can match you with other relatives, but you will need to have a family tree built so that you can capitalize on those connections. Use the resources and suggestions already mentioned above on this page to accomplish that goal. Then get even more from your DNA results with our expert advice. First, watch the video below to be sure you are on the right track.

 

Find Your Ancestors in the Scotland Census Now at FamilySearch

Is that the sound of bagpipes? It might be, because the Scotland 1901 Census is now available at FamilySearch! Learn more about what you’ll find in this collection and get top tips from a Scottish genealogy expert on how to find your ancestors is in Scottish records. Then we head over to Central and South America for exciting new and updated genealogy collections for the Bahamas, Panama, and Brazil.

new genealogy records Scottish Scotland Census

Scotland Census Now at FamilySearch

Does your family tree have roots in Scotland? You’re in luck! You can now search for your tartan-clad ancestors for free at FamilySearch! The Scotland Census, 1901 contains almost 4.5 million records for those living in Scotland on Sunday March 31, 1901.

“These records are comprised of Enumeration forms that were distributed to all households before the census night and the complete forms were collected the next day by the enumerators. Included in this series are returns from ships of the Royal Navy at sea and in ports abroad.

Click here to search these records at FamilySearch now.

This collection is also available on Findmypast. If you have a subscription to Findmypast, you can access the 1901 census that includes Scotland, England, and Wales. Click here to search at Findmypast.

UPDATE: The original FamilySearch press release contained incorrect information about the source of the 1901 census records. Visit the National Records of Scotland website here for more information about the 1901 census.

According to the National Records of Scotland website, they hold records of the census of the population of Scotland for 1841 and every tenth year thereafter (with the exception of the wartime year of 1941 when no census was taken) and of the sample census of 1966.  Census records are closed for 100 years under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.”

3 Strategies for Finding an Ancestor in Scottish Records

If your love of tartan, bagpipes, and kilts equals your love of family history research, you are likely hoping to find an ancestor who was born in Scotland. Or perhaps nothing would surprise you more than to find a Scottish ancestor. In either case, the next step is to find this ancestor in Scottish records.

As with all immigrants, the first step to finding them in their homeland is to research their lives extensively in America before searching for them in Scottish records. Scottish genealogy expert Amanda Epperson, PhD joins us here on Genealogy Gems to share some of her top strategies to help you find your ancestors in Scottish records. Click here to read more!

New Genealogy Records for the Bahamas

Findmypast has been making major strides in expanding its collection to include rare and underrepresented records. The newest addition is the Bahamas Birth Index 1850-1891. Discover your Bahamian ancestors in this online index of registered births from the British Crown Colony of The Bahamas.

Birth records are essential to expanding your family tree. There are tens of thousands of records in this collection, giving information not only about relatives born in the Bahamas but also their parents. Click to search the Bahamas Birth Index 1850-1891.

Panama Records Indexes

Three new indexes containing just under half a million vital records from the Republic of Panama have recently joined Findmypast’s growing collections of international records. There are now four collections for Panama:

These new additions consist of baptisms, marriages and deaths spanning the years 1750 to 1950 and will generate hints on Findmypast family trees. (Learn more about Findmypast’s new tree hinting feature by clicking here.)

Brazil Civil Registrations

FamilySearch has a new genealogy collection for South America: Brazil, São Paulo, Civil Registration, 1925-1995. Boasting nearly 2 million records, this data set includes births, marriages, deaths, and indexes created by various civil registration offices in the state of São Paulo. Some of these records have been indexed and are searchable as part of this collection. Additional images and indexed records will be published as they become available.

These records are in Portuguese so you may want to take a look at these resources for help with these records:

You can search the index or view the images or both. Before using this collection it is helpful to know your ancestor’s given name and surname, identifying information such as residence, and estimated marriage or birth year.

Bring genealogy records to life with Google Earth!

Genealogists love making discoveries in records, but the excitement of documents doesn’t exactly translate to the non-genealogists in your family. Capture your family’s imagination by telling their family history story with Google Earth. See how easy it is to turn the genealogical information you’ve collected into compelling multi-media stories. These tours will help everyone in your family appreciate your genealogical research and protect as a legacy for generations to come. Enjoy!

About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke is the producer and host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show and app. She is the author of the books The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Mobile Genealogy, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, and the Google Earth for Genealogy video series, and an international keynote speaker.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

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