Sunday, September 2, 2012

Questions About Filing Systems

Here are some questions I received about the Paper Filing, Computer Filing and Bookmark Filing blog posts.

Emmie's question about paper filing:
"You said that you file things under a woman's maiden name. What if you don't know her maiden name?"
Excellent question! I happen to have a couple of death certificates of women where the informant did not know the person's maiden name. In this case I had to file thme under the married names. I make note of this in my computer program (Legacy Family Tree). I don't put this in the notes but rather in a field titled USER ID. I am sure that the other computer programs have something similar. This field is visible on the individual screen. I don't have to go into the notes to see it. This USER ID field is there for you to use for any reason you want. In this field I would write "Filed under Mrs. Janet Simmons." If I ever find the maiden name then I will refile everything correctly and then delete the info in the USER ID field.

Dave's question about paper filing:
"Do you have any file folders left in your filing cabinet now that you have everything in binders?"
Yes I do. I have a few files left over from my old filing system (the Family History Library's method). These folders are labeled:

  • Process [stuff that has come in but I haven't looked at yet]
  • File [stuff I have looked at and analyzed but haven't filed in the binders yet]
  • Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek [this is an ongoing investigation involving several of my family members. It is a very complex case study so I have everything filed in this one place. I have a lot of documents]
I also still have several of my locality files left. I haven't transferred everything over to my Research Binder yet. Slowly but surely I am updating the info I have and then transferring it. The files are labeled like this:
  • LA - CADDO
  • MS - LAMAR
  • MS - LAMAR
I also have files for countries like:

John's question about paper/computer filing:
"Will you ever get rid of your paper files completely and just scan everything into the computer?"

I do plan to get all of my documents scanned into the computer but I will also be keeping all of my paper files as a backup. I have original documents in my possession dating back into the 1800s which of course I will never get rid of. I suppose you could make an argument for me disposing of the mere copies I have but I am old school and I just can't do it.

Angie's question about computer filing:
"What do you do with emails that you receive?"

I extract the information that I need and then I delete the email. When I extract the information to a source citation, I record who sent it and when along with the content. There is really no reason for me to keep it past that. I try not to use e-mails as a source but sometimes you can't help it. Sometimes someone sends me something interesting but it is only hearsay. In this case I don't use it as a source for something but rather I type it in my research notes. I still make a note of who sent it and when. If I am getting emails about an active problem I am working on, I save the e-mails within my e-mail program (Outlook) temporarily until I get things sorted.

Carl's question about computer filing:
"How do you do your file names when you have two people with the exact name?"

Most of the time you will have this with fathers and sons. In that case I do this:

I do have documents for two females with the exact same name. They happened to be cousins. All I do is add a birth date (or at least a year).

Esme's question about bookmarks:
"Do you go through all of your bookmarks from time to time to see if there are any broken links? It sounds like you have a lot of bookmarks!"

I do have a lot of bookmarks and I don't routinely check them. I don't find that they are broken until the next time I try to use it. There is only so much I can do in a day! Sometimes I can find the page under a new address and sometimes it is gone forever (or so it seems). There is a really cool webpage called The Wayback Machine. Old websites are archived all the way back to 1996! You CAN find webpages that have disappeared off of the internet.

Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis


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  2. Thank you so much for your kind comments :)