#52 Ancestors 52 Weeks

One of the keystones of genealogy and family history is to ensure that we have the foundations in place when doing our research. For many of us this will come over time. When we first start our research we rarely think about what we will do when we have 4 generations of grand parents. At this stage we may have a good foundation for understanding the family history, but, we may not have a good foundation for sorting and storing our research.

After nearly 20 years of research I set about devising a system that would work for me. We all need to have a system where we can easily store and retrieve information. For some it will be the use of pen and paper and for others an electronic process. Over time I have moved towards using an electronic process for storing all my information and research. This blog is a part of the process. The blog allows me to share my stories with others and provides a way to store those many fascinating stories or finds that we discover along the way. Family tree Maker is my genealogy software program of choice. Legacy though provides a much better fan chart.

Fan Chart Grace DUFTY, developed by Author on Legacy

Over the past 3 months following a short course from Strathclyde University I think I have set in place the foundations for my research. I have sorted and catalogued and developed an electronic filing system so that i can easily retrieve information. The repository for my data is One Drive, this means I can access the information from anywhere if I am on the Net. I can use a laptop, PC or tablet to access the information I have stored. I use Family Tree Maker as my primary tree and all information is on the tree.

The filing system I have established is broken into 7 family groups, these are based on my great grandparents. There are only 7 as one pair were cousins who married. Each family group has 16 files for storing photos, screenshots, word documents, pdf files named and dated for easy retrieval. The following heading as used: Admin, Birth and Baptism, Census, Death and Burials, DNA, Family Data Sheets, Images, Legal Docs, Maps and Places, Marriages and Banns, Newspaper, Photos, Shipping Records, Unverified and War Records. These file headings suit me, you may need to find the headings that best suit you.

Previously, I had information on OneNote, Evernote, Dropbox, on my computer, on Google Drive and OneDrive. Combining them all into one file provides a much better foundation for when I am researching a branch of the family. I can easily see what I have done and where I need to go to next, or check that information that I had but still hadn’t verified. The stronger our foundations and the systems and processes we use for our family history research the easier it is for us to do that which we enjoy the most; chasing after the elusive ancestor. Happy hunting.

Photo acknowledgement: Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany – The foundations of Turret 36 B and the remains of a later rampart building along the north curtain wall, Housesteads Roman Fort (Vercovicium)

14 thoughts on “Foundations

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  1. Your organization plan sounds very good, My files are currently based on surnames and frankly, it is too spread out. I like your idea of using my great-grandparents and making sub-files from them. Thanks for the tip.


  2. Sounds like you have a good handle on organization. Though I have FTM, and at one point had it synced with all my Ancestry trees, I still work on Ancestry (plus it’s accessible anywhere). I did take the time to download all the images for my ancestors (not their siblings, though) up through my 4th greats. Then I organized into folders (fewer than you, but you probably find things quicker) and tried to make it consistent. So far, so good! Now I need to create citations for everything in Zotero. Oy.

    Have a great 2022!


  3. Interesting approach, congratulations.
    I have organised my stuff differently but a consistent approach and being able to find and access stuff in a minute or two is what’s important. Unfortunately I can’t store my stuff on One Drive as I have too much data so it’s a couple of external hard drives for me. A portable 4TB goes with me when I travel.


    1. Will need to think about that if I get too much data. Was thinking about what happens if I don’t wNt to pay the yearly sub to Office365 and the need to make sure I had the data kept externally.


  4. Thanks for sharing your record system as the foundation of your research. It resonated for me! My main tools are FindMyPast and Evernote for storing records in the cloud.


  5. Hello the wonderful Claire. So good to see you taking part in this challenge. And how did you know where I was at with filing??? Just getting to the tricky bit so thanks for those folder suggestions. Can I ask? What do you mean by Legal docs? Wills? I use Dropbox for cloud storage so I daresay once I’ve got my act together on the home PC (remembering to back up of course) I will copy those folders there. Was interested to hear the Strathcylde course was good. I started two of them at once – not a brilliant idea – so the basic one got missed but I enjoyed the one about ancestors who worked in mills – super interesting. All the best with the challenge Claire.


    1. Yes Wills, land records, coroner’s inquest reports etc. I have done 2 short courses with Strathclyde, one in DNA and the other genealogy and the internet. I found both useful. The last one had a lot of little tools and ideas to use hence setting up the filing system and getting everything together. I will start the advanced genealogy on the 17th. I find it useful to focus my research and to learn additional skills. I will apply to do the diploma course by modules for later in the year.


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