Genealogy Filing: MRIN Folders, Part 2

by JL Beeken on 4-14-2012

I’m always interested in how other people work out the eternal problem of their genealogy filing.

One of the issues that seem to get us stuck is how to do it in a way that allows us to use the same organizational structure to suit a myriad of purposes. We’ve got digital files and paper files and boxes and rooms full of this and that. We plan to organize it. We plan to write books from it. We plan to share it. And then we go back to being buried.

I appreciate the problem with computer files. Technology goes obsolete. God knows where this is all headed down the road. Will anyone bother to read my computer files? Or will they just sit rotting on discs and hard-drives? Surely a printed book will not get lost in the fray? Our paranoia may be well-justified.

And I’ve got nothing against books and paper. I grew up with paper. If I could get set up on a slab of Tempur-Pedic foam in a library aisle with my meals delivered twice a day I’d be pretty much set for life.

The Armchair Genealogist got me thinking about putting together everything I’ve got in one place. I stopped dead in my tracks when I got to the part about printing all my files and putting them in 3-ring binders. Print everything? Oh, my head.

OK, let’s take a break here and switch cultures.

Some people never wrote anything down. They just told the stories generation after generation. There’s a few good reasons for that. First, talking kept things real. Nobody got to live in la-la land pretending this and that wasn’t really happening. Second, the lessons of the past got handed down in real-time where they’d be useful. Third, it was something to do on cold nights.

Maybe we should just go back to talking.

I’ve gotten as far as putting all my digital files into MRIN folders. Not everyone has the option of using MRINs. It depends on your choice of genealogy software. I think marriage surname folders would work just as well. Say, instead of 0106, it would be Forsyth, Nancy-Harris, John.

Assuming the point is to consolidate everything, what’s missing in the folders is all the data that’s already been put into Legacy. So, the next step would be to go in reverse through each marriage and copy all their data out of Legacy.

I can simply print out an Individual Report showing everything I have for each person. The advantage of this is that it’s a starting point for a chapter in my book or my wiki or what-have-you.

The options for the Individual reports are TXT, HTML or PDF. I prefer RTF (for which I use Jarte since Microsoft massacred WordPad) instead of Microsoft Word because they open quicker. So, I either print them as HTML, then copy and paste them into Jarte or print them as TXT and change the file extension.

Or you can save them as plain text straight out of the notes fields in Legacy using the ‘Write’ button.

Write Button, Legacy Family Tree

In other words, all the notes: General, Research, Medical, Birth, Christening, etc. Chances are the Events have source documents like census records and the transcription is in the Research Notes, so no need to repeat those. All of these would also go into the MRIN or surname folders.

Since the photos and source documents are already in the MRIN folders, now I’d have literally everything in one place. This only works if you’ve already scanned all your paper. ;)

This also makes it easier to work with Cuz on one marriage at a time because she gets a little distracted. We share my filing system but she’s got so much other stuff in her head or under a pile of papers somewhere it’s scary.

If I want to get fancy, I can also add shortcuts to the MRIN folders of their parents and children to have that wider perspective.

MRIN Folders

Granted this would be a little time-consuming but I’m not doing it for every single person in my database, right? Just the people I want to write books about. Like my direct lines and a few interesting aunts and uncles and famous cousins, maybe.

OK, maybe not. Maybe I’d like to access all files in any one line at any time. I have an idea for that but that’s another post.

Paper may be easier to work with because it can be shuffled around. I just can’t stand the thought of printing it all into binders.

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