Getting Organized: My Binders

I promised photos in the last post, of my actual binders so you could see what I was referring to. I want to again reiterate that MY system may not work for you. You may think completely differently about organizing and how to locate your ancestors’ information in an efficient manner. You may not do paper at all. That is entirely ok. (I will not be offended if you skip these posts until I start talking about my digital files!)

Here is a view of the binder spines:


The front of each binder has a family group sheet so I can see at a glance which family that binder holds:


In each binder, I include a timeline of the documents that will be found inside. You can easily update this when you find a new document. (I personally will add them in by pen until I get several and then I will reprint it.):


I have the children of this couple in the back of the binder, in chronological order, EXCEPT my direct line ancestor (the child I descend from). I create my own dividers with card stock and use sticky labels that you can write on:


You might see colored sticky notes and other things sticking out if you examined my binders in detail. Those are generally items that are WIPs (works in progress). Those might be things I didn’t have time to write the citations for but I wanted to get it in the binder rather than put it in a stack. They might be items that need more research and the note indicates what that research might be. Primarily, they are there to get my attention next time I have time to work on them.

That’s basically it. Every document is “processed” (which we will go over that in another post), printed, put into the document timeline, put into a sleeve and put in its place in chronological order in the binder.

Next time we will go over the digital side of this. I mentioned before that I do both, paper and digital. I know it might be duplication of my effort, but it is what works for me. Again, DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. I can’t say that enough.

16 thoughts on “Getting Organized: My Binders

  1. Thanks for sharing this process. I shouldn’t be surprised that our binders are so similar in layout and organization. I love your WIPs and look forward to learning more.

    1. It is hard to say how long… When I decided that I had too many papers laying around and I needed to implement a system, I worked on it for many hours to get it organized. Now, I work on maintaining and adding as I work on new aspects of my family tree. As for the document timeline, that does not take very long at all, especially if you’ve got the binder itself set up. Then it’s just a matter of some typing.

  2. We think very much alike. I am glad that I waited to redo my binders until now. Such great suggestions as yours will be incorporated with what I already had in mind. Thank you.

  3. What template did you use for the family group list? I like that so many can be on the same page. I also assume it is on line that you can type your info in. I also really like the timeline process! I am going to try both of these.

    1. I used Reunion which is a Mac based family tree software. Most software packages will have a family group sheet option. I am sure there are some online however.

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