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Best Way to Organize Your Files!
of the early lessons we learned while working on our family history is that we cannot remember
everything. After a while, we found ourselves reviewing the same source over again at
different libraries or archives. Wouldn’t it be nice
to have a concise list of the sources we have reviewed? Especially
those sources we have already reviewed, but that did not contain relevant information?
lesson we learned is just how quickly we can accumulate a mountain of information - our documents can get out of control very
Timeline not only keeps track of your ancestors’ lives, but also keeps track of your sources.
The Library Log
is where you record the information about
the documents you have reviewed and provides a complete system
that, when used, will keep you organized from beginning to end.
You can follow the complete
Library Log System or incorporate the parts you like.
The Library Log shows a document that was copied at the North Carolina
State Library on April 23rd. We can tell a copy of the
document was made, and (because the "Filed" field indicates "filed") the information has
been entered in
the Timeline and the document is filed in the folder labeled Tax – NC. The "Source
Type" field indicates the name on the label on your file folder. If you organize your
files by family name instead of by the type of record, this field would indicate the family name.
Entries for the Library field are selected
from the List of Libraries. The field will accept more
information than what is viewable. You can add to the List of Libraries by clicking on the
button marked "Libraries" at the bottom of the Library Log screen.
date entered in this field is the actual date you collected this document. Entries are typed
in this field using the format: mm/dd/yyyy. While
the date displays a two-digit year, it is entered as a four-digit year.
The Filed field indicates the status of the document.
Used in conjunction with the Source Type field, you will always know where your documents are
Entries are selected from
a List that currently includes “filed” and “none”.
Leave the field blank if you copied the document, but have not filed it away.
Select “none” if the document you are recording had no relevant
information and you did not make copies or notes.
(These will be listed on the form Blank Library Log and explained in the
Library Log System.) Once you have filed a document, select “filed”.
If you are working on your family history with another person and they borrow
your documents, you can add their initials to this List and mark the documents they have borrowed.
Entries are typed in this
field and the field will hold more information that what is viewable.
It is best to be consistent when entering Titles, particularly when you are recording a
series of several volumes. You will want to be sure the
Title appears in alphabetical order on the List of Titles in the Timeline screen for easy selection when
citing the sources for your Timeline entries. And you will also want your Source Titles in alphabetical order
on the Library Log - List of Titles Report for easy reference
while at the Library.
Entries are typed in
these fields. If you are entering the name of a society
as author, use the Last name field for the society’s entire name.
Entries for the Media field are selected from the List of Media. This
field can be left blank.
Entries for the Source Type field are selected
from the List of Source Types. The Source Type you select should match the label on the file folder
where you plan to file this document. Source Types can be such things as "land
records", "tax", "cemeteries" - or your various family names. What you use as a
Source Type depends on how you want to organize your files.
Entries for the Results field are selected
from the List of Results. Selections include:
Made Notes, None, Own.
Entries are typed in this
field. The field can be left blank. You can also
record a web address if your source is from the Internet.
and Location Table
classify the dates and locations that your document covers by
entering information in the Date and Location table. If you plan to file your documents by State as a sub-category of the Source Type,
then you must include a State selection in this table. The
fields for State, County, and Country are selected
from a List. The Dates, City, and Twp/District fields
The Library Log System
was developed over several years based
on numerous trips to various libraries, archives and courthouses.
This system works especially well when more that one person is working on gathering data.
We have visited many libraries with a team of 3-4 people and found that without the Library
Log System, it can be difficult to keep everyone going in the same direction.
for a Library Trip
order to know what you have already reviewed, print the Report: Library Log – List of Titles.
You can print the Report with all Titles, or if you
will be working on records from a specific State, print the Report for that particular State.
Print several copies of the Report:
Blank Library Log.
This will be used to log in each of the documents (including those that have no pertinent
information) that you review
on your research trip.
at the Library
Refer to the
Library Log – List of Titles as you gather your materials.
This will prevent you from reviewing the documents you have already reviewed on previous
As you review documents at the library, log them in on the
whether you made copies, made notes, or whether no information was found.
You Return Home
The first thing you want to do is bundle your information together by day.
Pocket file folders are excellent for this as they secure all your day’s documents and you
can label the front with the library name and the date you collected the information.
Be sure and include that day’s Log in the folder.
If you are on an extended trip and spend several days in libraries, make a
separate folder for each day.
As soon as you possibly can after returning home,
enter your Sources in the Library Log so that if you visit the library again before you have done your Timeline
entries, you will be assured the Library Log – List of Titles report is up to date for your next
trip. Remember to enter the Sources that you reviewed, but contained no information, from the Log you kept while at the
library so that you will not waste time reviewing these documents again in the future. After entering your Sources in the Library Log, you
can print a summary report of the documents you gathered for that day.
Using the pocket folders you made for each day at
the library, store each day’s documents along with the summary you just printed.
The summary, Library Log – to Proof Sources, will list only those documents you copied or
made notes on at the library - the information that needs to be entered in the Timeline!
Store your pocket folders together in date order.
Should you need to find a document, open the Library Log and display that particular
document’s record. If the Filed field is blank, you
will know the document is in a pocket folder. Look at the Date Reviewed field – this will tell you which pocket folder the
document is in. When you pull the pocket folder, you
can quickly scan down the Library Log – to Proof Sources to verify the document is in that folder.
As you work through each pocket folder, entering
your information in the Timeline, it is recommended you check off that Title on the Library Log –
to Proof Sources to indicate that document is recorded.
And, it is recommended you mark the cover of the
document as being entered in the Timeline. (All my
cover pages are marked: Lib Log or TL as I either enter the information in the Library Log and
you have finished entering your information in the Timeline (and your genealogy program), you are
ready to file your documents.
the Report: Master List for Files
report lists all of your documents in alphabetical order. Note
that numbers sort first. The Report will tell you in
what folder to file the document, based on the selection you made in the Source Type field in the
Library Log. If
you sub-categorize your files by State, the Report will indicate which State folder to use. In
the example, the first three documents are in pocket folders and not filed yet. The last document is labeled “filed” so we know it is in the file folder
labeled “Tax – NC”.
[ Blank Library Log ] [ Library Log - List of Titles ]