05 May 2009

Now Where Did I Put That?

This topic came to mind this morning as I sat here in my office looking at a stack of papers. I think genealogist handle more papers then about any other "hobby" there is. Census, newspapers, family histories, vital records and more... seems to be a never ending trail of papers.

Papers papers everywhere. What to to do with them all?

I think genealogists keep the makers of filing cabinets in business. After all who has need of filing cabinets these days? With everything going electronic it seems that more & more people are choosing to file everything on the hard drive with no paper copies.

I have one friend who has chosen to keep NO paper copies. He scans everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING and it is stored electronically. No paper copies of anything. I have other friends who scan nothing, its all paper copies, all numbered and filed in that ever expanding file cabinet.

Is there a middle ground? Do we need a middle ground?

Whatever you choose to use as your filing cabinet - whether a metal filing cabinet with drawers or a mega hard drive with tons of space for all these papers, be consistant and stay the course.

File folders - both paper & electronic with the contents clearly labeled is a must. Some sort of arrangement must be in place in order to be able to track & find upon request is of utmost importantance! To be researching and find the need to verify a document and not be able to lay hands upon it, would certainly be disturbing regardless of whether it was electronic or paper. Numbering & naming sytems must be clearly defined and consistant - when the time comes and others are looking at your files will they be able to understand your filing system or will they just look at it and confused - choose to put the entire thing to the curb?

There are plenty of resources available to help you decide how to manage your files, I'm sure there are plenty of options available to suit any file or data base size. The trick is finding one that works for you.

So take the time to work out a filing system that works for you - one that easy to understand but not so complicated that you find yourself asking, "Now Where Did I Put That?"

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