Organization is key when researching but like everything else, it does require some type of system and a bit of discipline. I’ve tried a few different systems over the years but my favourite one is the use of a filing cabinet with a colour coded filing system and tabs. I use two colours of files for my direct lines (one colour for my Maternal line and another for my Paternal line) and then another for the branches of the families. The files are in alphabetical order and each file folder has the name of my ancestor, Year of Birth and Death and an index card attached to the front with the name of their spouse and children. Inside I have a Checklist of all the records I have collected thus far which I use as an index and they are filed in chronological order by date of event. I’ve customized my Checklist using Excel since I work with both American and Italian records.
Next I include a copy of a Pedigree Chart and a Family Group Chart. As I research a person I make notes on the page in pencil. Anything I write in pencil means that I am still working on it or needs to be sourced. Once I confirm the info, I enter it into my FTM program, print a fresh completed sheet, date it and file it away. I also include a copy of my ancestor’s picture in the file if available.
Don’t forget to tune in Friday April 30 for the season finale of Who Do You Think You Are starring Spike Lee as he traces his slave ancestors.