How To Organize Your Stuff

Family history is fun when you can easily find the stuff you’ve already found,
but it can be awful frustrating when you can’t.

A LITTLE ORGANIZATION lets you know what information you have, where it came from, and where it is — thus, keeping you smiling and happy.

While there’s no reason (except for your future sanity) that you can’t keep everything in piles or toss it into a cardboard box — you’ll eventually want to have some kind of simple system for organizing your pedigree charts, family group sheets, research logs, documents, notes, and research helps — so you can easily find them when you need them.

The goal here is to be able to find any bit of family data you’ve gathered…within seconds!


There are 4 parts to getting organized.  It’s easy and simple.  Here’s what to do:

1)  GATHER your family history stuff together into one place (in a box or on a table).

2)  SORT your stuff.

3a)  DIGITAL: ORGANIZE ON COMPUTER — As you research different ancestors, you’re going to end up with lots of digital records.  Here’s an easy way to keep it all organized.  If you have a lot of papers, you can scan them and keep them on your computer.

3b)  PAPER: or ORGANIZE WITH FILE FOLDERS — You can set up a simple file folder system to keep all your papers organized.  It’s easier than you think.  And, you’ll thank yourself every time you look for notes you’ve made, or documents you’ve found, on different ancestors and their families.

4)  ENTER your family information into FamilyTree.  Once you’ve got all the information on each family all in one place, it’s easy to get it entered into FamilyTree. And, if you wish, also into a family history software program, such as RootsMagic, Legacy, Family Tree Maker, or something similar.

Your “organized” system should be:

  • Simple to set up.
  • Simple to maintain.
  • Flexible.
  • Understandable for future generations.

Your system should also let you quickly and easily:

  • Know what information you have.
  • Know what information you still need.
  • Know what resources and records you’ve already checked.

Remember, keep it simple and keep it current — so you don’t have huge piles of unsorted information sitting around.



Step 1.  Gather Your Family History Stuff