The original paper-based MRIN filing system was developed by Karen Clifford about 35 years ago. My contribution to this is a digital filing system also using MRIN’s.
Watch the FREE PowerPoint presentation that goes through the whole thing from A to Z.
Before you get bogged down in the labyrinth of my mind, there’s a bottom line to the MRIN filing system and this is what it is:
The only part that really matters is that your MRIN’s match up with your document numbering, and your Master Source ID numbers match up with your Master Source documents. That’s it. The rest is optional.
OK, onward into the labyrinth:
I finally got organized when I had so much paper and so many digital sources that I couldn’t find anything without wading through up to my shoulders. But, to be accurate, it was really a couple of years past that point.
If you are already filing paper by MRIN, you already know that MRIN’s (Marriage Record Identification Numbers) are cross-referenced with numbered tab dividers kept in binders. I do the same thing, only using a simple frame and hanging folders with numbers written on sticky tags where I can see them. A filing cabinet would be better but this is where I am at present. I wouldn’t recommend this arrangement as these frames are not designed for accessing paper from the side, but it’ll do in a pinch.
There’s no need for me to go back over the basic system. If you’re interested, it’s explained in clear and simple language. I just want to add some details of how I expanded on the original system with a digital component.
For the sake of preservation I scan everything I can. Not everything works well. For instance, I have photocopies of hand-written documents from the 1700′s and they weren’t using letter and legal size paper back then, more like 17 X 22 and other weird sizes. But I do the best I can. So I have some documents existing as only paper, some as both, and quite a bit that’s only digital saved from the Internet and not printed to paper. I use a free program called PDF Creator to print pages of interest from the Internet, so that I’m not just quoting URL’s that may disappear tomorrow.
Back to the MRIN’s. If you’re using hanging folders as I am, or using tabbed binders, you can still use only the numbers you want to. Some people in your database may not have sources, other than what information you copied direct from another person’s database. If you don’t want your MRIN’s all over the place, just renumber them starting at “1″ for the people you actually have paper or digital sources for. It’s under Tools in the Legacy menu and it’s a very easy thing to do. It really doesn’t matter because even if the MRIN’s that have source documents are 34, 128, 2037 and so on they’re still going to line up in numerical order.
As said, the basic system uses binders for paper files that connect to the MRIN’s. I took it a step further and created a source library on my hard-drive for all the digital documents. I made a new folder and called it “Source Library”. Easy enough.
Let’s say I’m working on MRIN 37. I have a hanging folder numbered 37. All paper documents for that couple go in that folder. If I have a marriage certificate for them I scan it and number that document 0037-1 with a short description after it and put it in my digital Source Library. Let’s say I also have a death certificate for the husband. I scan that and save the file as 0037-2 with a short description and put that in my Source Library. It doesn’t matter if the saved file is a text document, a PDF, a graphics file or something saved off the Internet. It just needs a number. I put the paper copy in folder 37 and the digital copy in the Source Library. This is a glimpse of what my Source Library looks like: all lined up nice and tidy for future searching. Generally I use “1″ for the marriage certificates if I have them, but that’s just a quirky preference.
In the meantime, back in the database: Let’s say on the marriage certificate I have several pieces of information – the names of the parents, the occupations of the spouses and the places of residence for the spouses on that date. First I’ll use the master source, say, ”Erie Co., Ohio Marriage Records”. If it doesn’t already exist, I create it. I don’t use a Master File ID number for that source, as I might have several marriage records from Erie Co., Ohio. I just leave that blank. After I use the master source on an individual the Source Detail box comes up where I put volume and page number under Detail Information, if I have it, and at the bottom under File ID I put 0037-1, which is now the number of the marriage certificate.
(I can also write the number in pencil in one corner of the paper document but it’s not really necessary. I might have 2 or 3 sources in folder 37 so I’m not going to have a hard time finding it again.) So anywhere I use 0037-1 for a source I put it in the Source Detail File ID box. If later I’m wondering where I got a certain piece of information I can go to my digital Source Library and find that number in seconds or I can go to folder 37 for the paper version.
Same thing with all information extracted from a Death Certificate. The Master Source in that case might be Erie Co., Ohio Death Certificates or it might just be Death Certificates, but the File ID in the detail box would be 0037-2, or 0037-10. The extension number doesn’t matter, as long as 0037 is there.
For the number of relatives I’m likely to ever document I figure 0001-9999 is probably enough numbers. Since I have both individual sources as just described, and Master Sources, for visual clarity I divided up my numbers like this: the numbers 0001-4999 are available for individual MRIN’s, and the numbers 5000-9999 are for the Master Source File ID numbers. It’s just a personal preference.
Let’s say I have a cemetery listing involving several people. This is a master source involving several families, not just one MRIN and I number the folder 9003. If I scan it, it also exists in my digital Source Library folder as 9003 followed by a short description. If I ever want to look at it again I can find it in seconds.
In this case there is no file number in the Source Detail box, because as soon as I assign that Master Source to anyone the Master Source File ID is automatically assigned as well. It doesn’t need a Source Detail File ID. Maybe a page number under Detail Information if that’s relevant.
Unless I have a paper or digital copy of a source there’s no point in it having a number because it doesn’t point to anything else.
It’s simple to me, and I hope I’ve conveyed it in a way that will be useful to you. And remember … back up your work.
16 January 2007
I have moved on from the side-accessed hanging-folder frame. I don’t have room here for a filing cabinet and multiple binders get expensive and also take up a lot of space.These are acid-free archival quality storage boxes from Demco. These boxes are 5″ deep and come in letter and legal-width. After scanning and extracting all information into my database the pages do not need to be accessed on a regular basis so this is efficient storage.
I put most of the pages in archival quality page protectors. They come in boxes of 100 at a reasonable cost. I number the edge of each page protector with the MRIN using a permanent marker. I do not like punching holes in paper so this seemed the best solution.
The manila dividers are numbering multi-page documents that don’t fit into page protectors. They’re not necessary though as I could just number the documents instead or use small numbered tabs, etc.
Should I decide to move to binders at some point, of course the page protectors have pre-punched holes ready for that.