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  • Writer's pictureColleen Murray

Get organized!

Updated: May 31, 2021

In January, store shelves that were filled with decorations become filled with plastic storage containers, encouraging us to get organized in the new year. Genealogy is no different. Some genealogists have begun a Genealogy Do-Over with the start of a new year. Personally, I made time this holiday to read Drew Smith’s Organize your Genealogy: Strategies and solutions for every researcher.[1]

This is a new book- published just last year, and I had not initially planned to read it. Several years ago, I embarked on my own Genealogy Do-Over, and I overhauled my organization system for both paper and electronic documents. I still have work to do to get everything onto my new system. (The shoemaker’s children have no shoes, unfortunately.) I didn’t want to read a book on organization that might make me want to overhaul my system again! However, I had heard good things about the book, so I eventually decided to skim through it over the holidays.

Instead, I found myself reading more than skimming, and I found a lot of helpful tips that didn’t require me to abandon my current filing system. What I benefited most from was the section on Evernote. While I was already using the software extensively, the tips helped me improve how I was using it for genealogy, and inspired me to try some new things. I think the best chapter for beginners and advanced researchers alike is Chapter 6, “Organizing your Research Process”. This section incorporates a modern take on how to best organize research following today’s best practices in methodology.

When you read older “how-to” genealogy books, they don’t incorporate today’s technology, and therefore don’t tell you how people actually handle research today. This can be frustrating, especially when you are starting out and don’t want to reinvent the wheel or waste time changing your organization system a few years later (as I did). Organize your Genealogy contains a lot of tips on today’s productivity tools, such as apps and software that have become pretty standard in the genealogy world. I wish I had a book like this when I first started out as a hobbyist, and I recommend it to everyone, beginner or advanced. We can all learn something about how to organize our research better in order to be more productive in the new year!

[1] Drew Smith, Organize your genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher (Cincinnati, Ohio: Family Tree Books, 2016).

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