Category: | Genealogy

Storage Tips For Organizing Your Physical Records

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When you first start down the path of discovering your genealogy, you’re going to collect a lot of paperwork. If you want to be able to easily find it, you’ll need to develop a storage method. You’ll want to keep the physical information as well as create each file digitally. You’ll need a scanner and a system to keep track on your computer as well as physically.

Physical Storage

Get a filing box of some kind that is easy to pick up and carry around. You may even want more than one box depending on how much research you plan to do. Make sections or boxes for categories of your search, using the suggestions below. Make sure that the boxes you use are meant for storing paper for long periods of time without destroying them.

* Birth records – These are hard to find since they are not public records. For this reason, ensure that you keep them safe.

* Census records – These become public 72 years after the publication date and are good ways to find primary sources of information about your genealogy.

* Death records – These aren’t exactly public records, but non-relatives can get death records if they send a letter explaining what agency or office needs the certificate. Some states will offer a non-certified copy.

* Family bible records – Some families keep a lot of records with their bibles. They record births, deaths, marriages and other activities inside the book on pages designated for this activity. You may find lost bible records at various historical and genealogical societies.

* Immigration records – These may be available online or in the national archives. They will record nationality, place of birth, ship name, date of entry, age, height, eye color, hair color, profession and place of the last residence. They may be called "ship passenger arrival record".

* Land records – You can often find historical records at the county recorder’s office, which will state who has owned the land and who owns it now.

* Marriage records – Anyone can get an uncertified copy of a marriage license from a city clerk’s office if they have enough information.

* Military records – Anyone can request military records using Standard Form 180 and online.

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* Miscellaneous records – If your records don’t match one of the files you’ve created, either put them in a miscellaneous file or create a new file if you think you’re going to find more of that type of record.

* Newspaper records – Most newspaper archives can be searched online via various online sites like Newspaper Archive and

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* Passenger records – These types of records can be found via the national archives passenger arrival lists.

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* Personal correspondence – This is harder to find, but many families keep these types of things. It’s going to get harder with the advent of digital communication.

* Photographic and video records – As you find old photos, be sure to save them properly and don’t touch them with your fingers.

* School records – Historical records can be found via many countries’ departments of education, both online and off. More recent records are private, but you may be able to find old yearbooks.

* Wills – These records can often be found via the probate records office.

* Other – What other type of records do you want to find?

Digital Storage

For every single file type above, create a file folder on your computer with that name. Call it something such as Genealogy Search Records. Use Google Drive, One Drive, or Dropbox instead of your hard drive – or even an external drive, so that if anything happens you’ll have a back-up of the files available.

Each time you get a new record, scan it, give it a name that you can search, and then put it in the digital file folder as well as file it away in the physical file storage system you’ve created. That way you have both a digital and a physical record to keep and show to others. You’ll have them at your fingertips.

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