My usual method of tidying up!

A few entries ago, I mentioned that I had a miscellaneous mishmash of paper files of various kinds from various sources, all containing useful bits of genealogical information, and no idea how to organize them. I think I’m making progress towards getting things under control. In this article, Kimberly Powell, the “Guide” or expert on genealogical topics over at suggests a simple system of folders in different colors (or with different colored labels) with a different color for each surname or family group being researched. I had bought a hanging file box and a set of folders in various colors, so this seemed to make perfect sense.

On my Dad’s side of the family, I chose red for the Leslies, orange for the Leatherwoods, and yellow for the Moffatts. On my Mom’s side of the family, I chose light blue for the Roberts, darker blue for the Allens (I happened to have folders in two different shades of blue), and green for the Neubauers. I know I said I was going to focus my attention on the Leslies, but I have miscellaneous documents pertaining to all these families, and I wanted to make sure they were all filed and accounted for.

Since I have several folders in each color and surname, I can begin by keeping all the documents for one surname in one folder, but as the research continues and I accumulate more documents I can subdivide the documents and place them in different folders depending on the types of documents I have: e. g., birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, census records, wills, letters, etc. For example, I have miscellaneous Leslie documents in the main red Leslie folder, but also have documents relating to my Dad’s military service in a separate red Leslie folder. I also have separate a separate folder for documents pertaining to my genealogy software and a folder for blank pedigree and family group charts in case I need them.

I like the folders with slots in the edges for adjustable plastic tabs with paper inserts. You should be able to find these at any office supply store. You simply write a label on the paper insert, slide it into the plastic tab, and slide the tab into the slots on the folder. The tabs can be easily adjusted or staggered so that you can easily read the label on the folder no matter where it is in the file box.

After a weekend’s work, I have just about everything filed and sorted. I know what goes where. This system seems logical, uncomplicated, and easy to use. If you have any suggestions about how to improve the system, please let me know by leaving a comment or sending an e-mail.