Feature Article: Genealogy Research: Conquering Your File Cabinets

I have five multi-drawer file cabinets packed with correspondence and genealogical notes gathered over the past 50 years.

Keeping this old genealogical correspondence in just one spot means that I am the only one with access to it. I decided that it’s time to get it online and, where appropriate, available to everyone.

Source: Thomas Jay Kemp

I want to make the change from paper files to online files – and where possible, to go paperless.

Where to start?

I started with the first file drawer – evaluating the files, one folder at a time.

Looking at the information I quickly decided on a few guidelines:

  • Only post material of lasting value
  • Don’t post correspondence from living people
  • Don’t post notes, data about living people

Online family tree sites let you post scanned items as photographs and as PDF documents. I can scan and post a one-page letter as a JPEG file, or – if I have multiple pages – I can scan and save them all in one file as a PDF document.

Source: Thomas Jay Kemp

I can take that compact PDF file and add it to my online family tree, attaching it to the person who wrote the letter to me as well as to the historical persons mentioned in the correspondence.

Source: FamilySearch.org

That correspondence is now preserved and is instantly discoverable by me and by anyone else researching the same family lines.

Once I have the file scanned – and online – I can then decide if I need to keep the original paper copy or if I can opt to go paperless and toss the paper copy.

Genealogy Tip: Put your old family history notes and photographs online – preserve them and make them available to others. You’ll be glad you did.

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