Genealogy Filing: Taking Inventory, Part 2

by JL Beeken on 2-04-2011

So are you done taking an inventory of your genealogy files? Seriously. All of them.

Writing about it has helped to focus me in getting to the parts that were/are stuck. As I’ve made changes I’ve also changed my post about taking inventory so if you’re trying to follow that exactly, and I’m sure you’re not, it’s been updated several times.

If you don’t know where to begin, pretend someone just walked in your door and asked you to explain your genealogy world to them.

  • What’s in this box?
  • What’s in that box?
  • Do you have any photos?
  • Where do you keep them?
  • What’s that filing cabinet for?
  • How does that work?
  • What’s Legacy?
  • What’s that big pile on your desk?
  • What’s that stuff all over the floor?
  • Wow, whatever possessed you?

It doesn’t matter if it’s utter chaos because that might be your style. But, sit down and write a letter as if you’re answering that person. We’re all mature enough to be caught talking to imaginary friends without feeling humiliated about it. When you’re done there’s a chance that someone else can understand it someday. If you do nothing your chances are slim to none.

You might find, as I did, it propels you into some ideas for better organization when you can’t even explain it to yourself.

Think of it like a 12-Step Program for Geneaholics. Be accountable. Hold nothing back. Confess everything.

I had a friend once who used her ceiling for alphabetical filing. She would create little sub-sections by stapling cardboard across the joists. Say, for instance, it was breakfast time and you felt like having bacon. Well, that was Section F6 for the frying pan. I’m not that far gone. I don’t have an unfinished ceiling or I would be. I’m completely out of floor space. What was originally my clothes closet is floor to ceiling book shelves.

I pulled everything out of my storage area today looking for one small item. Oops. Minus 10 points. I really had forgotten about the giant box of slides I found out there.

When I put everything back I missed five boxes (?!) so I’m going to have to do it all over again and see if I can find another few square feet of space. The major score out of this exercise was a long roll of paper. It looks like the backing from a MacTac project (lining the kitchen drawers 12 years ago?) and it has squares 1/2″ by 1/2″. I stapled it to the wall and that’s now another To-Do list. I like squares and lines. It reminds me of Grade 2; a highlight in my career.

On my To-Do list it now says Legal-size 3-ring binder. Next, I’m going to better-sort some paper.

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