Set Up Your System Lesson


Now that you've organized what you know on pedigree charts and group records, we are going to set up a system to begin research.

You will need:

  • Eight manilla folders (old ones that you relabel work great)
  • A stapler (or use a two hole punch and clips to attach paper to the folder) Paper clips work fine too. The point here is to use what you have. Buying all new is okay too, if that is what you want to do.

Open the folders up lenthwise. On the left side of the folder, either staple, clip, or fasten: (From the top down)

On the right hand side, fasten: (from top down)

  • A Research Log
  • Copies of any letters, correspondence or information relating to that family group sheet. (Include duplicates in other family records as wanted and needed)

The research logs will be to keep a record of every record you search, no matter how insignificant and regardless of what you find. The correspondence log will keep a record of every letter you write, every letter you receive, and every email you write or receive that has do to with this particular family group.

Date each entry so you know when it was searched. Also list exactly for what you were searching. That way, if you only searched a source for one person's birth date, you know you may need to go back someday and check again to see if it might contain someone else's information.

Every entry where you find information should have a corresponding reference to the pieces of paper filed beneath it. If you search the birth records of Monroe County, Kentucky from 1880-1900 and find information, it should be recorded on a separate piece of paper than any probates or county histories. In the lower right hand corner of the paper, give it a reference number, i.e. 1a. If you have ten pieces of paper from Monroe County, KY births from 1880-1900, then number them 1a through 10a and keep them in order, filed beneath the research log when you are done. (You may choose any notation system that you like - mine is just a suggestion)

Each different record should have a different entry. If you were to search Monroe County KY Marriages from 1844-1880 next, it would 1b through 5b (or however many pages you have.)

If your research becomes extensive then move to 2a, 3a etc. and keep in separate folders if they become too bulky to handle.

With correspendence, label them and file them the same way. At the top of every file on the tab, label them, i.e. PENNINGTON, Abel and PENNINGTON, William to designate different heads of household. If it is a woman list her name. You may also list the birth date because if you have several Abel Penningtons you can tell the difference between Abel Pennington b. 1810 and Abel Pennington b. 1880.

Now that you have organized what you have, you are ready to move on to original research! Choose a family surname to start with and be ready to concentrate on one family, one family group at a time. It makes it much easier that way to keep track of what you've done.

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