Genealogy Q&A: Genealogy File Organization

By Diane Haddad Premium

Q. How should I file my genealogical research?

A. Genealogy organization guru Sharon Debartolo Carmack, author of Organizing Your Family History Search (Betterway Books) recommends filing by surname, then by place, record type or couple. It depends what works for you.

The couple method is my favorite. because it coordinates with the couples on my pedigree chart and family group sheets. Carmack describes how it works:

1. Every couple on your pedigree charts gets a file folder.

2. Label the folder with the names of the couple (using the wife’s maiden name), such as “Christopher C. GREGORY and Mary STUART.”

3. List names of the couple’s children on the outside of the file folder for quick reference (optional).

4. When a child marries, begin a file folder for that marriage. If a child never marries, his or her documents will remain in the file of the parents.

5. You may want to make a locality folder and put the cemetery transcriptions in it, along with other similar documents that pertain to multiple families living in the same area.

If you’re really on an organization kick, attach a table of contents to the front of each folder and add to it as you gather more records.

Whatever method you choose, set aside time each week or month to maintain it by filing accumulated papers. Arrange your computer files the same way so you’ll only have one system to remember.