3 “Organizing Your Genealogy” Aids – Bundled & Discounted 40% For the Holidays

Family Roots Publishing has again bundled 3 newly published organizing your genealogy aids and discounted the set a full 40%. Reg. $27.85, it’s just $16.71 (plus $5.50 p&H). This bundle has been one of the most successful we’ve ever sold. Click on this link to order. Note that two of the items currently include FREE PDF eBook downloads. There was some confusion when we ran a similar sale in May, as some folks expected THREE items… to download.

This bundle is made up of three new items, all of which will help genealogists get organized. They are:

Read the descriptions of the three items below. Click on their individual links to order just that item at 10% off. Click on the Bundle Links – or the illustration – to order the bundle at 30% off.

Organizing Your Genealogical Documents – a Genealogists’ Insta-Guide, by Leland K Meitzler; May 4 2017, 4 pp; Laminated; 3-hole punched; ISBN 978-1-933194-90-5; Item #: FR0194

I’ve been lecturing on organizing your genealogical documents electronically for the last decade. It’s one of my most requested topics. We all have piles of paper – some organized, and a lot that’s not. I have nothing against paper filing systems. In fact, William Dollarhide got my files in order, with his “Dollarhide Systems” organizing methods, back in the day when computers weren’t even discussed. But now we have more electronic documents coming our way than paper. Thus the need to organize electronically.

This Insta-Guide is made to help genealogist’s make the transition from paper documents to electronic. Get rid of the 3-drawer filing cabinet, and those boxes full of paper. And include the all-electronic paperwork that you pull off the internet every evening.

This guide covers the following topics:

  • The Introduction
  • What You Will Need Besides Your Computer
  • Digitize Those Papers!
  • A Note About Files and Folders
  • Electronically File as You Would in a 3-Drawer Filing Cabinet
  • Electronic Filing – Setting up Hierarchical Folders
  • What Goes in the Master file?
  • Inside each Surname Folder, set up Country Folders and Family Folders
  • Labeling a Family Folder
  • The Contents Sheet
  • A Note and a Warning About Files
  • Access the Master Folder From More Than One Computer and/or Program
  • Sharing Documents (files)
  • Link to Your Files From Within Your Genealogy Program
  • What About Photos?
  • Electronic Document Storage Systems
  • Back Up Your Files
  • Dispose of Your Paper Clutter
  • Take Your Family Documents on the Road
  • References

This Insta-Guide currently come with a FREE download of the full-color pdf eBook. Upon placing your order, you will be able to download the FREE PDF eBook directly from the FRPC screen.


Organize Your Genealogy Research: Tips, Tricks & Strategies – a Tracing Your Ancestors publication by Lisa A. Alzo & Denise May Levenick; printed in 2017; 66 pages; ISBN 978-1-926510-05-7; Item #MM023.

Lisa A. Alzo & Denise May Levenick have written a new booklet for Moorshead Publishing titled Organize Your Genealogy Research: Tips, Tricks & Strategies. The booklet is part of the Tracing Your Ancestors series. I wrote Tracing Your Germanic Ancestors for the series, so I do know something about them.

It is made up of 19 chapters – all dealing with an aspect of genealogy organization. Starting with an article on getting rid of the useless clutter – and knowing what is of archival value to an article dealing with organizing your genealogy research through the use of online internet resources.

Denise Levenick is an expert in the area of organizing and archiving paperwork and well as physical heirlooms. Several of the articles detail how to go about archiving all these items we have stored in our home offices, and well as our attics, living rooms, and closets. One chapter deals with how to deal with all those photos we all seem to collect. Do you have issues with archival terminology? She includes a chapter dealing with just that. Everything from Acid, acidic to Polyvinyl chloride. Lists of archival suppliers, as well as resources (with detailed contact information) are included.

I’ve been a fan of Lisa Alzo’s instruction for a number of years. She includes a number of chapters dealing specifically with organizing your research using storyboarding, apps, Trello, and Evernote.

Genealogists can get a lot of good tips and instruction from this 66 page publication. It’s well worth it’s low price, and then some.

The following is from the Table of Contents:

  • Taming Your Inner Packrat Purge your inner packrat and cut the clutter!
  • Storyboarding Your Family’s History Helpful techniques to overcome writer’s block
  • Tips From the Pros Lisa A. Alzo and Denis May Levenick share their tips for staying organized
  • Setting Up a Home Archive How to be a better keeper of your family’s artifacts
  • Archival Product Resources A look at the terminology and other resources relating to preservation
  • Archiving Family Keepsakes Top tips on how to become “The Family Curator”
  • S.M.A.R.T. Goals Learn how this popular goal-setting method can help you organize your genealogy
  • Creating Research Log & Plan Planning your research strategy and logging your work are crucial to your success
  • Organizing Heirlooms A look at storage options for your treasured family items
  • Web Resources for Organizing A look at websites for helping you organize your genealogy
  • Organizing Online Life Five ways to avoid online overload
  • Finding Clues in the Archives Carefully examine every aspect of your family collection for a possible unexpected connection
  • Organizing Photos A look at the prints, negative and film left by your ancestors
  • Timesaving Apps & Tools Lisa A. Alzo shares her favorite scanning and organizing apps
  • 20 Tips for Organizing Paper Files Denise May Levenick looks at ways to organize sooner, rather than later
  • Organizing Digital Files Five steps to help you organize your hard drive and avoid the digital clutter
  • Trello Lisa A. Alzo discusses how Trello can organize your genealogy and writing projects
  • Evernote Use Evernote to organize your genealogy and more!
  • Choosing Scanners Denise May Levenick looks at what you need to consider when choosing the right digitizing equipment


Organizing Your Genealogy: No More Piles of Paper! – A Genealogists’ Insta-Guide; by William Dollarhide; 2017; 8.5×11; 4 pp; folded; laminated; ISBN: 978-1-62859-128-6; Item #: FR0425

It could be said that William Dollarhide is the father of genealogical organization. During the 1970s, Bill developed an organizational method that became known as Dollarhide Systems. Thousands of genealogists still use the method. Mr. Dollarhide has now compiled an Insta-Guide titled: Organizing Your Genealogy: No More Piles of Paper!, condensing what can take up a book and more, into 4 pages. Armed with the Insta-Guide, any genealogist can get their paperwork organized – and stay that way.

The following is an overview of the Contents:

  • Piles of Paper
  • Pile 1 – The Compiled Sheets
  • Pile 2 – The Research Aids
  • Pile 3 – The Notes and Documents
  • Separate the Notes and Documents
  • The First Problem – Families vs Surnames
  • The Second Problem – Extra People
  • 1. Ancestors
  • 2. Collaterals
  • 3. Suspicious
  • Solving the Paper Collecting Problem
  • Four Rules for Saving Notes and Documents
  • Convert the Notes and Documents Pile into Organized Surname Books
  • Genealogical Evidence
  • Preparing a List for a Family Group Sheet
  • Further Reading

This Insta-Guide currently come with a FREE download of the full-color pdf eBook.

Family Roots Publishing has bundled the three new organizing your genealogy aids and discounted it 40%. Reg. $27.85, it’s just $16.71 (plus $5.50 p&H).Click on this link to order.

Piles of Paper – Part 4

The following article is by my good friend, Bill Dollarhide.

Dollarhide’s Genealogy Rule No. 43: If you can remember your ancestor’s marriage date but not your own, you are
probably an addicted genealogist

In the articles, “Piles of Paper – Part 1, 2 & 3,” we suggested you take your large piles of paper and dump them into one pile on the floor of your kitchen. We then discussed the three categories of paper that needed to be separated out from the large pile. And, after removing the Compiled Sheets and Research Aids, we were left with a still large pile of paper. After suggesting some basic rules to follow hereafter in saving any Notes and Documents, we gave some ideas for picking up the papers one by one, and getting them ready for 3-hole ring binders, creating “surname books” divided by place of origin and paginated. In this article, we discus the retrieval of information from your well-organized notes and documents collection to compile family sheets, keep track of the genealogical events for each ancestor/relative, and show the evidence you have backing up everything you say on the compiled sheets.

Retrieving Notes and Compiling Family Sheets
If all of the notes and documents are organized as described in the previous three articles, a genealogist has the means of locating multiple sheets for analysis. The process of comparing information from the notes is one which most experienced genealogists understand. However, the problem of locating every research item can be frustrating if the notes are not in a place where they can be removed (or returned) easily.

The next step of compiling a family sheet is the point where most genealogists compare the notes, evaluate the contradictions that always occur, and then make a decision about the dates, places, and events necessary to enter information about the family members. This process is sometimes lengthy and worrisome, and often leads to ideas where new research might be necessary. With a large collection of research notes, the process is even more complicated, and some means of indexing the information becomes critical.

With notes and documents easily retrieved from the surname notebooks, a family sheet can be prepared more easily, but more importantly, a complete citation list of every sheet that was used to compile the family information can be created.

The Importance of Genealogical Evidence
Genealogists have at their disposal a rule of law called The Preponderance of Evidence. It is possible – if one can fully document all sources – to make assertions about the relationships between people. There may not be a single document that states, “he was the son of. . .” in your document files, but there may be overwhelming evidence to demonstrate that a relationship of father to son was indeed the case. If a court of law in the U.S. can accept such evidence, then it can be used by genealogists as well.

In fact, there are numerous instances in which professional genealogists have testified in court about genealogical evidence regarding an heir to property, establishing paternity, or some matter in which genealogical evidence was in question. Genealogical evidence is no different than the evidence provided in a criminal case, where the prosecuting attorney must produce evidence that the accused was indeed the criminal. However, the important fact about evidence is that everyone who reviews it must come to the same conclusion. Therefore, the pieces of evidence must be made available so that anyone can scrutinize the findings. If the same conclusion is reached, then it is indeed possible to make an assertion about “the son of. . .” without having a single document that actually states that fact.

Any references, however slight, should be in the notes and documents collection. This means, for instance, that an obituary should be obtained even if the death certificate for this person has already been acquired. It also means that any other piece of evidence relating to that death should be gathered, e.g., survivors’ memories, funeral programs, cemetery office records, tombstone inscriptions, stone mason records, insurance papers, social security records, and anything that may give clues about the survivors of the deceased. The more references collected, the more information that will be revealed about the ancestors or descendants of the person who died. Adding multiple references to a death or other event is the way we build a preponderance of evidence. This is the method in which a genealogist can prove something without a shadow of doubt being cast on the evidence. For this reason, a complete list of references should accompany every genealogical presentation, whether the presentation is a few family group sheets or a thousand-page book.

Preparing A List For A Family Group Sheet
There are several ways of listing the sources and itemizing the evidence for genealogical purposes. First, a genealogist could simply write a narrative which describes the steps taken, listing every source and the conclusions reached. Second, a formal list could be prepared that itemizes all sources that make any mention of one person. And third, such a list could be prepared for each family group, showing the page number in the notes/documents collection where the information is found.

This latter method has merit if the family sheet is being prepared anyway, so why not simply list every reference that was used to compile the family information? Better yet, why not use the back side of the family sheet to do it? This is good record-keeping because in compiling the family sheet, every reference item from the documents file can be listed one at a time. Then, as new information is added, the new reference item can be added to the list as well.

Remember the suggestion was for every reference sheet to have a number — now the importance of that page number is evident. But beyond the simple reference to the page, more information might be worthwhile having in the list. Here is an example of a list of sources that can be written on the back of a family group sheet:

Source Code – Type of Record – In Reference To – Information Given
Dollarhide/IN/3 – Marriage – John Dollarhide – Date, place, witnesses
Reynolds/IN/13 – Marriage – Lucy Reynolds – Date, place, witnesses
Dollarhide/IN/14 – 1850 Census – John Dollarhide – Age, place of birth
Dollarhide/IN/14 – 1850 Census – Lucy Dollarhide – Age, place of birth
Dollarhide/IN/14 – 1850 Census – Wm. H. H. Dollarhide – Age, place of birth
Dollarhide/IN/14 – 1850 Census – Nancy Dollarhide – Age, place of birth
Dollarhide/CA/22 – 1870 Census – Lucy Dollarhide – Age, place of birth
Dollarhide/CA/22 – 1870 Census – John C. Dollarhide – Age, place of birth
Dollarhide/CA/22 – 1870 Census – Priscilla Dollarhide – Age, place of birth

Note that the first thing needed is to inform a reader which surname book the item came from, what section within the surname book, and what page number within that section. “Dollarhide/IN/3” indicates that the reference is in the Dollarhide surname book in the Indiana section, and within that section, it is page 3.

There are advantages in listing all references on the family sheet in this way. Not only does the list indicate every research item that was used to compile the family group, it provides a list that can be mailed to other genealogists showing what has been collected for that family. Genealogists who receive letters from other genealogists asking for “everything you have on the Brown family” can send the list of references first.

The list also tells a genealogist where to find records that may be stored in more than one place. For example, records concerning Lucy Reynolds before her marriage can be stored with the Reynolds surname book. Records after her marriage to John Dollarhide can be stored in the Dollarhide surname book. A copy of the marriage record need not be made for each book if the list indicates where each particular reference has been filed.

Other Indexing Options
With a well organized notes and documents file, particularly one with page numbers for every sheet of paper, you have several other options to create an index to the names appearing in it. Above, we described one method of using the back of a family group sheet to show a list of references, giving the name of the surname book, place section, and page number where the full details are stored. But, an index of the names in your notes and document paper database could be prepared using 3″ x 5″ index cards, a Rolodex file, or using a computer database program. The fact that your notes and documents are well organized will give you several options to prepare an index if listing the sources on family sheets or individual sheets does not cover everyone in your paper database. More details about preparing a list of sources were in my previous article, “Tracking Genealogical Events,” with examples of a computer-generated list using the Name/Place/Page Number concept.

Finally, you can organize your genealogical notes and documents, but only if you are willing to separate them from other types of paper in your files, such as compiled sheets and research aids. With a well organized set of notes and documents, and with page numbers assigned to each sheet of paper, you can make lists on family sheets or individual sheets that will give you access to your notes in seconds. In addition, you will have the means of preparing more sophisticated indexes to your notes by using computer database programs.

Epilogue: This organization system was first published in 1982 as The Dollarhide System for Genealogical Records; from which evolved the book, Managing a Genealogical Project, first published in 1988; and a genealogical software package, Everyone’s Family Tree, first published in 1989. The mid-1990s edition of the Managing book is still in print, and has a chapter on computers that is rather dated. However, the rest of the text is still up-to-date and very useful for anyone wanting to get rid of their Piles of Paper.

Further reading:
Managing a Genealogical Project, a book by William Dollarhide.
– “Piles of Paper-Part 1,” an article by William Dollarhide.
– “Piles of Paper-Part 2,” an article by William Dollarhide.
– “Piles of Paper – Part 3,” a blog article by William Dollarhide.
– “Tracking Genealogical Events,” a blog article by William Dollarhide.
Managing a Genealogical Project, a book by William Dollarhide.
A Genealogist’s InstaGuide: Dollarhide’s Rules and Daffern’s Laws.

Piles of Paper – Part 3

The following article is by my good friend, Bill Dollarhide.

Dollarhide’s Genealogy Rule No. 42: If you took family group sheets to the last wedding you attended, you are
probably an addicted genealogist.

In the articles, “Piles of Paper – Part 1 & Part 2,” we suggested you take your large piles of paper and dump them into one pile on the floor of your kitchen. We then discussed the three categories of paper that needed to be separated out from the large pile. And, after removing the Compiled Sheets and Research Aids, we were left with a still large pile of paper, but just for the category of Notes and Documents. To start organizing this category, we suggested that a “Surname Oriented” system would be superior to a “Family Oriented” system, because the Notes and Documents are inhabited by three types of people (Ancestors, Collaterals, and Suspicious). But, before organizing these papers, we will propose some basic rules to follow hereafter in collecting any Notes and Documents:

Rules for Saving Notes and Documents
Let’s forget that you still have this incredibly large pile of notes and documents sitting in the middle of your kitchen. Instead, let’s assume that you are starting your genealogical research tomorrow. Everything is new. We will now start fresh. Under these conditions, I can give you some really good rules to follow and your genealogical collection will be the envy of every other genealogist you know because you will be able to find every event record for every person you have ever collected, every time, guaranteed. Here are my four rules:

1. Control the sheet size
2. Separate sheets by surname
3. Separate surname sheets by the place of origin
4. Give every sheet a page number

Rule 1: Control the Sheet Size
As students we learned how to prepare for a written essay in school. We were taught to use 3 x 5″ index cards, noting such things as the author’s name, publisher, date of publication, etc., followed by a brief quote or two from the source we had found in the library. This method worked well because the cards could be sorted easily and provided a bibliography once the report had been written.

However, genealogists attempting to use this system will quickly discover that they rarely have enough room on the card to write all notes they may want to capture. Not only that, genealogists are fond of copying whole pages of text from books, not just a few notes here and there. To make matters worse, genealogists receive information from a variety of sources – letters from relatives, documents from vital statistics offices, interview notes, phone notes, or information from other genealogists. The nature of genealogical research does not allow the use of 3″ x 5″ cards effectively, because a separate collection of full-size documents would then be necessary.

We have also been known to go to the library without a note pad, using whatever paper we could beg, borrow, or steal, to write down the latest census data we found. If the little sheet of paper is covered with a larger sheet in the file box at home, the little sheet of paper will probably be in the “lost” category in the near future.

Standardizing the sheet size for taking notes using 8-1/2″ x 11″ paper solves this problem. If every note were taken on this sheet size, the smaller notes can be taped or pasted to standard size sheets to bring them into conformity, and if a researcher follows this simple rule faithfully, the ability to find notes and documents for later analysis will be enhanced immediately.

To make this technique even better, using a pre-printed form to take all notes has several advantages. First, the sheet size will be controlled at the time the note is taken. 3-hole paper saves having to punch holes later, and the sheet has a place to be filed when taken home. (An example of such a form for genealogical note-taking is the “Reference Family Data Sheet,” one of the forms in the book, Managing a Genealogical Project).

Rule 2: Separate Sheets by Surname
Genealogists can separate documents by the surname of the family to which they pertain. In other words, “Surname Books”, which are standard 3-hole notebooks, can be set up to hold the notes and documents which relate to one surname. One book would contain everything that is known about one surname, including those people who are ancestors, collaterals, or suspicious. At this level of collection it is not necessary to separate known ancestors from collaterals or suspicious persons. The important thing is that the person has the right surname and could be important to the project. As the notes are gathered, write the surname at the top of each page and devote an entire page to the notes for that surname or names connected with that surname. If a new surname of interest is encountered while you are in research, start a new sheet for the new surname. This simple separation of notes by surname will allow you to file any sheet of paper logically, and without having to recopy your notes when you get home from the place of research.

Typically, genealogists find themselves sitting in front of a computer screen copying down notes from original records. Even if the genealogist was careful to copy all of the Johnson family records from one county, what happens sometimes is that another family surname pops up – something that was not expected. This happens frequently in the course of collecting genealogical records. The serious mistake is to mix these surnames on the same sheet of paper. If the Brown family is on the same sheet as the Johnson family, even though these two families were not related to each other, the only recourse later may be to use a pair of scissors to get the notes separated by the surname. Therefore, simply starting a new page when another surname is found will separate the surnames at the time the notes are first taken down.

A family record mentioning several different surnames that married into the family could all be saved as part of the main surname. The surname book contains information about the families and individuals important to the project, not necessarily just the known relatives. This is a key element in storing references in this manner. The problem of what to do with non-relatives has been solved: treat them the same as the relatives at this level of collection. If later research reveals that a reference item is not part of the family at all, the sheet can be removed and discarded. But until then, the collection can contain any and all references to any surname of interest to the project.

Now the rules begin to make sense. If the same sheet size is used — 3-hole, 8-1/2″ x 11″ notepaper — and all surnames are separated on different sheets, a system of collecting notes and documents will pay off. With these two rules alone, the note does not need to be stacked on top of a the pile at home — any new sheet can immediately go into a surname book as another page.

Rule 3: Separate Surname Sheets by the Place of Origin
Once the documents have been stored on the same sheet size and placed in the appropriate book for the surname, the next step is to break down the sheets by the place, or origin of the record to be saved. The logic behind this concept needs to be explained.

There are three vital pieces of information every genealogist must know to pursue genealogical evidence: 1) a name, 2) a date, and 3) a place. With these three elements known, a treasure chest of information will be made available for further research. Of these three elements, the place is the one that tells you where to look for further information. The place of the event, such as the birthplace, place of death, place of marriage, place of residence, etc., is what a genealogist must know before a copy of that record can be obtained.

We live in a record-keeping society. The jurisdiction that created the record is the place. That jurisdiction must be known before we can learn anything. If this fact is clear, then the idea of separating source material by the place is a logical step to take. Therefore, the many sheets of notes and documents pertaining to one surname can be further separated by the origin of the records. Experienced genealogists know that once the county of residence has been established, a treasure chest of information awaits in the courthouse, the local library, a funeral home, a cemetery, a local genealogical society, etc., all of which can provide much important information about a family that lived in that locality. That information cannot be found without first knowing where to look.

Separating the sheets by the place is an easy task to control because virtually every single genealogical reference item will have a place attached to it. So, the top of the sheet should first show the surname for the record, followed by some designator for the place of origin. For example, one surname book could contain all the Johnsons in Iowa in one section and Ohio Johnsons in another section. If the Johnson family of interest started out with an immigrant to New Jersey, followed by migrations later to Ohio, then Indiana, then Iowa, etc., these states could be arranged in that particular order — which would tend to put the family reference material in loose chronological order for the time periods they were in a particular state. This method of collecting source material will place records for certain individuals in more than one place section if a person moved from state to state over the course of his life. Don’t worry about this yet — we are going to get all of these place-oriented records back when we create family group sheets — so get the surnames together in one book, then divide the book by the places of the records.

The place designator can be broken down further. If there were many Johnsons in Ohio, it may be worthwhile to separate this section by county. The important thing about this method of organizing notes and documents is that when information about the Johnson family in Ohio is needed, a genealogist knows where to look for what is known about the family in that area. It is also the logical place to file a new piece of information.

Rule 4: Give Every Sheet a Page Number
The fourth rule is to simply give every page in the surname book a number. With the surname notebooks organized in sections for the places divided, each sheet can be given a number that allows for the retrieval and return of sheets to a proper position. A sheet number need only be a consecutive number starting with 1, adding numbers as sheets are accumulated.

A full sheet number might be Johnson/OH/24, meaning the sheet belongs in the Johnson surname book in the Ohio section, and within that section it is page 24. This sheet number is assigned on a “first come – first served” basis, so there is no need to re-arrange sheets later to get 1790 records before 1870 records. Genealogists find and collect records in random order, so they can be filed randomly too. This allows for adding sheets within a section as the records are found.

But, since the references have already been sorted by surname/place, the sheet number is simply a designator to put a sheet back into a known position, and it provides the means of indexing reference sheets later. The page number is a key element in this filing system. If an index is to be prepared in the future, or if a genealogist plans to use a computer, page numbers will be critically important.

Back to the Pile of Paper
Now that we have reviewed the four rules for taking new notes and setting up surname books, what about the mess you still have lying in the middle of your kitchen? Well, you will need the following items before you can get started:

● A good pair of scissors
● A bottle of Elmer’s glue (or some other kind of stick-um)
● Scotch tape
● Irish tape (which doesn’t have to be returned to its owner after you use it).
● A felt marker (for highlighting color, optional)
● A three-hole punch (check the thrift stores for bargains)
● Several paper/cardboard boxes, one for each surname you have
● Several 3-ring binders, at least one for each surname you have (check the thrift stores, any binder with silk-screened graphics can be easily wiped clean with an old T-shirt soaked in lacquer thinner)
● Set of sheet dividers for each binder
● 8-1/2″ x 11″ blank white paper (one ream should do it, to start)
● Knee pads
● A sign that warns your family, “fines are double in work areas”

Start slow. Pick up a piece of paper from the pile. What surname does it relate to? Smith? Write “Smith” at the top of the page. What place does it relate to? Kansas? Write “KS” after Smith. Get a box and mark it “Smith”. Place the first sheet of paper in the Smith box. Now get another sheet of paper from the pile and do the same thing. New Surname? Get another box. Any sheet that is smaller than 8-1/2” x 11” in size should be glued or taped to a blank full-size sheet and labeled with the surname and place of origin.

Along about the third piece of paper, you will probably discover that both Smith and Johnson are mentioned on that one, and if these two names did not marry each other or have some special connection, then you need to use your scissors, and cut the Smith portion apart from the Johnson portion. Now get two blank 8-1/2″ x 11″ sheets of paper. Stick or tape the Johnson note on one sheet and the Smith note on the other. Label the top of each sheet with the surname and place. Put them in a cardboard box for each surname.

You will also discover some sheets early on that do not lend themselves to be cut up. These are the ones that mention several different surnames in the same paragraph. Cutting up these type of sheets won’t work well, so put these to one side so you can take them to the nearest photocopy machine. You will need to make as many copies as there are ancestral surnames mentioned. Remember, we are trying to separate all of our notes and documents by surname — if that means copying a resource more than once, that is what it will take.

A marriage record is an example of two surnames mentioned that properly should go in two different surname books. You could make a copy of the marriage record so one could be filed with the groom’s surname, the other with the bride’s maiden surname . . . or you could simply make a quick note on a new sheet with the names, dates, places, and a cross-reference note that tells a reader that a full marriage document is filed in a different surname book. That cross-reference note is a full size sheet, and could take the place of another marriage document in another surname book.

As you see the sheets building in the boxes, you should begin to see what is happening. You are building surname files, and isn’t it exciting! But even if you are not bubbling with excitement yet, this is what you will need to do to your current notes and documents to adopt this system. If you are willing to do it, you will love what happens when you have them all prepared this way.

Once you have all the sheets of paper off the floor, your pile will not exist anymore. You now have several cardboard boxes with nifty stacks of 8-1/2″ x 11″ paper in them. So, grab the box of your choice (how about Johnson) and get a 3-ring binder that will hold all of them. Too many for one binder? Add more binders as necessary. Next, get someone to clean off the kitchen table. Now, go through the entire Johnson stack and make smaller stacks of the Johnson sheets for each place the Johnsons lived. Sheets that are not already 3-hole punched need to be punched now.

Creating stacks for each place is sort of like correlating pages, and you could possibly involve other members of your family in this exercise. “OK, Don, I want you to collect all of the Johnsons in Iowa in your stack. And, Angie, you have Ohio.” If the family starts fighting over which state they get, promise that when they are done they will all get fed. (Which, of course, is something that none of the family has done together since you first got into genealogy).

If you have sheets that are smaller than 8-1/2″ x 11″ then stick or tape them to a full size sheet and add the surname and place at the top of the page. If you have documents that are larger, you can fold them so they will go into a note book, or you can make or buy a “pocket” sheet. These can be purchased from a K-Mart, Wal-Mart, or perhaps in the school supplies area of a local supermarket. The purchased pocket sheets are pre-punched for 3-holes and have a pocket where an over-sized folded document can be inserted.

If your pile includes original documents you may want to make photocopies of them, which would also allow for reducing the size, if necessary, to fit your notebooks. You can treat original photographs the same way — make copies for the notebooks. The originals should be stored with other documents or photos in an acid-neutral container kept in a dry place.

Once you have gone through one surname and separated by place, each sheet in a surname/place stack can now be numbered. You can arrange these sheets any way you want at this time, but any new sheets will be added at the back and continue the numbering. If the first stack you take on is the Johnson/Iowa stack, start numbering the sheets IA-1, IA-2, IA-3, and so on. Do the same for each stack of sheets for each place you have separated. When this is done you can place all of the sheets in a 3-ring binder. Use the sheet dividers to separate the sheets by states/places.

Any expression of wild and crazy celebration at this point is perfectly in order. You are permitted to take your shoes off, let your hair down, shout with glee, or hug and kiss any person who happens to be in the room. You are finished with the pile!

In the next article, “Piles of Paper – Part 4,” we will show you how you can use the well-organized notes and documents file to create family group sheets that list every source you ever found for a family.

Further reading:
Managing a Genealogical Project, a book by William Dollarhide.
– “Piles of Paper-Part 1,” an article by William Dollarhide.
– “Piles of Paper-Part 2,” an article by William Dollarhide.
A Genealogist’s InstaGuide: Dollarhide’s Rules and Daffern’s Laws.

Piles of Paper – Part 2

The following article was written by my good friend, by William Dollarhide.

Dollarhide’s Genealogy Rule No. 1: Treat the brothers and sisters of your ancestors as equals . . . even if some of them were in jail.

In the article, “Piles of Paper, Part 1,” we left you with a large pile of paper in the middle of your kitchen. We identified three categories of paper, and tried to separate all of the paper into three piles: 1) The notes and documents; 2) The compiled sheets; and 3) the research aids. After removing the compiled sheets such as family group sheets and pedigree charts from the large pile, we were able to organize this category. The family group sheets can all go in one ring binder or file folder. The same is true for pedigree charts. In addition, we removed all of the research aids into another pile of paper, which was easily organized by location. For example, all of the papers related to research in Ohio went in a file folder marked “Ohio,” which seemed to work rather well.

But you still have the first category, Notes and Documents, which is still a very large pile of paper. In this pile are notes and documents on everyone you have collected. You have your paternal side of the family as well as the maternal side of the family in there. This is the main cause of your piles of paper in the first place, and will take some special treatment. But, before we take on this awesome task, let’s define the reasons that are causing this category to be so difficult to organize.

Two Problems
1. We have as our goal the job of identifying families. We are taught very early that a family group sheet is our worksheet and everything we do should be based on the family group. The fact is, we do not start with a family group sheet — we start with genealogical events for individuals. The reason so many genealogist’s notes and documents need help is that they are trapped into a “family oriented” way of thinking. Perhaps a better way of thinking is to free yourself from families and develop a “surname oriented” filing system. I will attempt to walk you through the process of changing from a “family system” to a “surname system” for the care and preservation of your notes and documents.

To explain, let’s forget about families for a moment. Let’s assume that the genealogical events for individuals – which are found in the notes and documents – precede the work of filling in a family group sheet. And, if that is true, then the first papers that need to be organized are not the family sheets, but the notes and documents that are used to compile the family group sheets.

Organizing family group sheets, as you already know, is not the problem. The problem is finding that marriage record you know you have . . . you know when and where you found it the first time . . . you even remember the color of the walls of the library, the microfilm reader you were using, the people who were in the room at the time, and what you had for lunch that day — you just can’t remember where you put that darned marriage record! I will propose a method that will allow you to find any marriage, any birth, any death, or any residence event for any person. And you will be able to do it in seconds.

2. We gather genealogical information on more people than just our immediate ancestors. As a person born with the name Dollarhide, I was born curious about where that name came from. Today, I collect any person I can with the name, believing that we are probably related. Any genealogist with an unusual name in their background knows about this — we collect a lot of facts about a lot of unknown extra people simply because they have the right name. Virtually everything we collect as genealogists can be associated with three types of people in which we have an interest, known or unknown. Therefore, the notes and documents that you have collected will have sheets of paper for these three types of people:

A. Ancestors. Of course we are interested in our ancestors, and any piece of paper that gives the names of an ancestor is something we want to save, however slight.

B. Collaterals. These are people who are the brothers and sisters of our ancestors, plus their descendants. They are important to us because understanding their genealogy may lead to our own lineage. Therefore, we usually are interested in saving every instance where a known collateral’s name is written down somewhere.

C. Suspicious. This may be the largest group of people we collect. We are always finding some person with the right name who lived in the right place and in the right time period. This means the unknown person is highly suspicious of being an ancestor, or at least closely related.

Because of the nature of genealogical research, these three types of people cause us to collect much more paper than just our ancestors. We don’t want to lose contact with these people because they may turn out to be an ancestor, so we save every sheet of paper, hence, our paper files grow and grow and grow.

Solving the Paper Collecting Problem
There is a solution to the paper-collecting problem. Since we collect notes and documents for ancestors and collaterals, and because we add extra people with the same surname because we think they might be related, then why not create a well-organized database of information just for the notes and documents? Instead of saving notes and documents by family, we could save notes and documents by surname. Hey! That means you could save notes and documents on anyone! It also means you might be able to find a record when you want it.

More importantly, if you start thinking about “surnames” instead of “families” as the way you control the paper in your notes and documents file, you have some new options. For example, what if you treated the ancestors, collaterals, and suspicious people as equals? What effect would that have on your note taking? If you sorted your notes and documents by surnames instead of families, you could create a database of information that was not dependent on a family relationship at all. Remember, the notes and documents happen before a family group sheet happens. Therefore, a surname is a unifying factor which brings together people who are ancestors, collaterals, or suspicious. It also frees you from a family-oriented filing system.

There is one other important unifying factor in genealogy, and that is the place where someone lived. For example, by collecting and then sorting all Dollarhides who ever lived in North Carolina, regardless of their relationship to me, I would have a database of Dollarhide notes that would be fairly easy to organize. And, I would be able to create family group sheets from that database much easier. So how do we go about creating a surname-oriented database? We do it by following some simple rules.

In next article, “Piles of Paper – Part 3,” I will present four rules for saving notes and documents.

For Further Reading:

Piles of Paper – Part 1

The following article was written by my good friend, by William Dollarhide.

Dollarhide’s Genealogy Rule No. 44: Genealogy is an addiction with no cure and for which no 12-step program is available.

When people first get interested in their family history they are not fully prepared for what is about to happen to them. Genealogy is an addiction. New genealogists discover that they now have to do this hobby for the rest of their life! The first few weeks of intense genealogical research turns what used to be lovely, well-ordered persons into compulsive, determined zealots with only one thing on their minds – get that genealogy stuff! Husbands go night after night without their dinner, children are left to fend for themselves, and relatives begin answering their phone with, “Oh, it’s you again . . . but I thought I already told you everything I know”.

It is a genealogical fact of life that something strange happens to nice people – they lose control of their lives. Those of you who are just starting out in genealogy and have not learned this yet should stop reading NOW. I would not want to be the one who caused you to spend the rest of your life looking for dead relatives. But, if you are already hooked and have a large collection of paper that is taking over your house – then you should stay with us. I will try to give you some ideas for organizing your genealogical records (otherwise known as “piles of paper”). Those who have become a member of the “paperless society” are excused from reading further. And, if there are any people who still believe that a personal computer will REDUCE the amount of paper you collect – you are also excused.

The Paper Problem
Aside from the irritating experience of discovering that some of your ancestors had no parents (your ancestor just appeared on the planet one day), perhaps the most common problem experienced by genealogists is the stack of paper that begins to collect. As the paper grows, genealogists move gradually from a file tray to a series of file trays; to a file cabinet, then several file cabinets; and for some, a loss of several rooms of their house to the mountain of paper. Getting that first computer did not help a lot, because now you could print out even more paper than you had before.

I once described my genealogy collection as “those piles of paper” and if this description is not completely foreign to you, then you may be interested in how I found a way to organize those piles. My first success with organizing my genealogy mess came after a disaster. Back in 1974, after about two years of doing genealogy, most of my paper files were neatly stacked (in manageable piles) on a drafting table built from saw horses and a flat door. When one of the saw horses collapsed, one end of the table came crashing down and scattered all of my two-years of genealogy all over the room. My experience of picking up the paper from the floor is where I first began developing a method of organizing that mess.

So, if you truly want to get organized too, then I suggest that you start by throwing your entire paper collection into one large pile in the center of a room. With that done, let’s see how you can pick them up, and in what order. But first, let’s identify what is in that pile of paper.

First Step: Turn One Pile into Three Piles
When you first started in genealogy, you could put everything you had in one neat 3-ring binder. It wasn’t long before it was several binders, then file cabinets. . . and you know the rest. When the collection was small, you could have marriage certificates, photos, pedigree charts, family group sheets, notes you had taken, copies from censuses, etc., all together in the same small notebook. In fact, if you dumped the contents of the small notebook into one pile of paper, you would still only have a small pile. Now multiply that small pile by the number of years you have been doing genealogy, and dump the contents of your file cabinets, boxes, etc., into one pile. You would find that the entire pile can be broken down into different categories of paper. So, let’s start by separating the sheets of paper in the large pile into categories. We only need to identify three. Thus, your first step in organizing the one large pile of paper is to turn it into three piles of paper.

Category 1 – Notes and Documents
This category will have the largest number of sheets of paper. It contains the photocopies of pages from books, copies of census extracts, birth certificates, marriage licenses, deeds you have copied, and so on. The paper in this category pertains to all of your families and many different surnames. This is the heart of your genealogical research. This category has the raw research notes, documents, and copies of any source that mentions your ancestors.

The nature of this category has to do with the way we do research on our ancestry. We identify genealogical events for each person who appears on our pedigree charts. Information about an individual person is gathered and recorded first, in the form of notes and documents. Then, a family group sheet and pedigree chart is the way the facts are all put together. Family group sheets and pedigree charts are the genealogical presentation of the family tree. The facts we collect before these forms were prepared represent the genealogical research for the family tree. The facts gained in genealogical research are almost always oriented towards one person, with the collection of facts about that person’s life, or the genealogical events for a single person.

Of course, we want to link people together as married couples, as members of a family, or the blood-line connection of a person to his parents, grandparents, and so on. But remember that all of the presentation work must be preceded by the gathering of documentation. The most important part of genealogical work, therefore, is the research to identify the significant genealogical milestones for individuals. From a collection of these facts, a family can be put together, or a pedigree chart can be extended.

The significant genealogical milestones of a person’s life begin with a birth. A date and place of birth is followed by a date and place of marriage, and ends with a date and place of burial. But in-between these basic vital statistics are a myriad of events in a person’s life. We are talking about recorded events, which includes anything that happened in a person’s life that can be recalled from memory or from written accounts. These include, for example, a baptism, christening, or an event in which a person was recorded in history for some noteworthy deed, good or bad. The day someone entered school is a genealogical event, as is the graduation day. A name of a person mentioned in an obituary as a survivor is a genealogical event, perhaps confirming a date and place where a person lived, as well as a relationship to the deceased. In addition, an event such as a land record showing the residence for a person and the date of the land transaction is a genealogical event. Any written account of a person, however slight, is a genealogical event, and adds valuable knowledge about a person’s life.

All along the time-line of a person’s life are events that confirm that a person lived in a particular place at a particular time. If a chronological listing of all of the events in a person’s life were possible, it would give a biographical account of a person’s day-by-day existence, plus it would identify all of the places a person lived. Such a complete listing is not possible unless someone has kept detailed diary entries every day for an entire lifetime. But many of the recorded events of a person’s life exist, even though they may not be obvious. For example, a record of a person’s school attendance may still exist, or a record of the first piece of property a person owned exists in the form of a recorded deed in a county courthouse. A genealogist’s job is to find these recorded events and extract them using the same techniques a detective uses. But these diligent activities will make this category of paper very large.

This first category could be called your “database”. This is a paper database of facts about your ancestors, and no computer is required – not yet anyway. After separating this category from the others, your goal should be to have every fact you have ever found on your ancestors in one group: the Notes and Documents.

If you have facts in your memory that have never been written down, now is the time to do that. The Notes and Documents category is going to be your complete database of information. And later, we are going to organize it in such a manner that you will be able to find any particular piece of paper in seconds! For now, just get every one of the sheets of paper that belong in the Notes and Documents category separated from the other two categories.

Category 2 — Compiled Sheets
This second category includes any family group sheets, pedigree charts, surname lists, descendancies, or any compiled genealogical information that derives from different sources. Most of these sheets of paper were compiled by you. The information on them came from the notes and documents you have collected. They are different from the Notes and Documents category because they are compiled sheets, not original documents or notes you collect. If you want to organize them, they should be separated from the notes and documents.

Dealing with the paper to be separated into the Compiled Sheets category will not be difficult. You can put family group sheets in one notebook or file folder, for example. The same is possible with pedigree charts and descendancies. But, you cannot organize these types of records very well if they are interfiled with the other categories. After all of these materials are separated from the rest, you may want to organize this category first, because it will probably be the easiest to do. Make file folders or notebooks to separate the various types of sheets in this category, such as family group sheets, pedigree charts, and others. When you are done, take your entire family out to McDonalds to celebrate your incredible achievement. For now, ignore that still very large pile of paper that is in the middle of your kitchen.

Category 3 — Research Aids
This category does not necessarily give names of people, but is important to your research project, because it includes “how to” items, lists of libraries in Ohio (because you have an interest in Ohio research), maps, lists of professional genealogists, societies, clubs, commercial vendors, etc. This category also includes your personal library of books pertaining to genealogical research, and of course, would include articles from GenealogyBlog and other newsletters and magazines.

Items in the Research Aids category are not difficult to organize. You can simply start file folders to collect all of the things that relate to Ohio, and label the file “Ohio.” You will find that the majority of the Research Aids category can be organized by its geographic origin, e.g., libraries in Indiana, lists of genealogists in Ohio, how to do research in South Carolina, and so on. Research books will organize themselves by being placed on a bookshelf. However, if any of your books contain information about your families, you need to copy those pages from the books and include the copies with the Notes and Documents category.

You should be able to organize all of your Research Aids (or call it your “personal library”) in no time at all. These materials seem to sort themselves by place, so to get some quick gratification, get the Research Aids organized along with the second category, Compiled Sheets, and you will be left with just one large pile of paper.

Separate the Notes and Documents
As it turns out, you can not really organize the Notes and Documents category until they are separated from the other two categories — so just leave them in the middle of the room as a neat stack of paper until you have the first two categories done. Before wading into the Notes and Documents, reward yourself with a large hot chocolate sundae for having done such a marvelous job of it so far. It would be advised that before starting on the Notes and Documents that you have at least a one-week break. The next steps get harder.

With category two and three done, you have accomplished a great deal. You will have your compiled sheets in order, and you will have your research library in order. But you still have the first category, Notes and Documents, which is still a very large pile of paper. In this pile are notes and documents on everyone you have collected. You have your paternal side of the family as well as the maternal side of the family in there.

In the next article in this series, “Piles of Paper – Part 2,” we will demonstrate some techniques in organizing the Notes and Documents category — the area with the largest amount of paper. Meanwhile, please cover the pile of paper in your kitchen with plastic wrap to keep the dogs and cats away.

For Further Reading:

Family Tree Memory Keeper: Your Workbook For Family History, Stories And Genealogy

fnw06I already covered today, on this site, a laminated guided dedicated to helping educate researchers on organizing family research. Now here is a brand new book to help but those concepts into action. Family Tree Memory Keeper: Your Workbook for Family History, Stories & Genealogy comes form the editors at Family Tree Magazine, Allison Dolan and Diane Haddad.

This new book is in large part a memory book, but with some added features. Here is the list of benefits from the book cover:

  • “dozens of fill-in pages to records all your essential family information
  • convenient paperback format for writing and photocopying pages
  • space for mounting photographs
  • maps to mark your family’s migration routes
  • tips for researching your family history
  • a comprehensive list of additional resources”

With this book you can record you genealogy in an organized format, you can use it as a guide to add memories and as a tool to collecting new information about family and yourself. Use this book to tract heirlooms, histories, and records. Use it to record family recipes and favorite stories, and much more.

This is the kind of fill-in-the-blank book that can make research just a little be more fun. It is also a great way to introduce younger generations to their family history. For birthdays or the coming holidays, this book makes a great gift.

Order a copy today of Family Tree Memory Keeper: Your Workbook for Family History, Stories & Genealogy from Family Roots Publishing, Price: $19.59.

The Portable Genealogist: Organizing Your Research

ne33Last month I had the opportunity to review three new fantastic laminated guides published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS). Those guides were:

A few more have shown up in the mail and I have the opportunity to share these with you over the next few weeks. In this round I will feature The Portable Genealogist: Organizing Your Research. This title is another by NEHGS Genealogist and author Rhonda R. McClure.

Organizing family research can feel to some like trying to conduct a major spring cleaning without chemical, rags, dusters, vacuums, or any assistance. Without the correct tools and a planned approach you may as well not even begin. Fortunately, now there is this new guide to help.

“This Portable Genealogist will offer practical advice on how to organize your research and files, keep track of families, and create goals to guide future research.” You may already be an expert at research, but every tip helps when organizing any amount of research data, and of course, help keeping it organized.

Here’s what you will find in this new guide:

Page 1 covers organization basics with sections on choosing an organization system, maintaining consistency, and leaving a paper trail.

Page 2 looks at tracking families through traditional forms with an emphasis on numbering and management.

Page 3 discusses the value of research logs and the planning of future research.

Page 4 finishes off with filing, both paper and computer.

There are six stand out tips in this guide. Not bad for just four pages. Plus, there is a list of recommended resources worth the additional reading for those serious about organizing and maintaining their research.

Order The Portable Genealogist: Organizing Your Research and many other popular laminated guides from Family Roots Publishing; Price: $6.81

Will Anyone Else Understand Your Genealogy?

The following article is by my good friend, by William Dollarhide:

This article is a prologue to four (4) subsequent articles relating to a genealogical organizing system described in my book, Managing a Genealogical Project. What follows are four (4) articles: “Piles of Paper,” Part 1-4. Once those four articles are published, I am hoping to get Leland Meitzler to write an article that describes his methods of adopting the organizing techniques described here into a totally digitized system. –bill$hide

For Yourself or Others?
When your activity or interest is not shared by someone else, you tend to prepare things for yourself without thinking of others. As a result, your ancestor collecting may lead to piles of paper without much organization, or, even worse, papers that only you can read or understand. Genealogists who are only interested in the thrill of finding their ancestors and have no real publishing plans are probably the only persons who can understand what they have collected, find a sheet of paper, or make any sense of the project at all.

On the other hand, genealogists who go into their projects with a specific purpose of publishing their results are forced to prepare their work in such a way as to find the documents, notes, photographs, etc., so that when it is time to publish, the materials are easily retrievable. Moreover, if your genealogy is well organized, it should be possible for anyone to take it over, understand it, and possibly complete the work of publishing the results.

As an example, my first two years of genealogical research was a disaster in terms of paperwork, organization, and filing. I was copying every record in the world in which the name Dollarhide appeared, and my collection of paper was taking over the house. I finally developed a system to control the paperwork, and the system worked. I could find any document quickly, and I could make sense of my large collection of papers.

But, a benefit emerged from that well organized paper-collecting system that I had not considered. I realized that I had the means of disseminating information to other people because I had a well organized collection of genealogical materials. I also felt that my genealogy collection could be taken over by someone else if necessary.

A great disappointment when I first started in genealogy was to learn that the rest of my family did not share my excitement about it. I was having great fun with my new hobby, but I became the family bore at family gatherings. The rest of the family tolerated my addiction, but they learned to stop asking questions like “So. . . what is new with our genealogy?” That would set me off for an hour with stories about various branches of the family I had recently discovered.

Dollarhide’s Genealogy Rule No. 45: I’m crazy about genealogy, but not necessarily yours.

Even though my immediate family did not care much about my research efforts, over the years, I found many other cousins who had an interest in my work. Most genealogists will acquire correspondents over the course of their research, and this communication with others is an extremely important way to advance your own genealogy goals.

If everything you do in genealogy has an underlying premise that you are not the only person interested in what you are doing, then your project might take on some organization. So, with that in mind, think about who else may read your work when you copy down a census page or make a photocopy from a book. Did you write down the author’s name, the publisher, or the date of publication? Did you write it down so someone else can read the writing?

In an earlier article, Did you really start with yourself?, I wrote about my grandmother, Julia Angeline Watkins. Several years after her death, I found a box of her old papers, photographs, and memorabilia. Julia had written a few pages of her life story, included three generations of her family history. When I first read those pages, I had the distinct impression that they were written specifically for me. Grandmother did not address her remarks to a specific person, but it was clear that she was writing for someone in her family to read it. I got goose bumps. It was an emotional and very personal experience to read words written years earlier by my ancestor. Her words answered my questions about her ancestry, but, more than that, gave me insights into her character and what she was like as a person. After that experience, I vowed that I would try to write something for my great-grandchildren to read about me.

The dictionary definition of “publish” means “to make public.” You can publish something by making public one copy of what you have written. Simply sending a copy of your genealogical materials to someone else is a way of making your work public. Or, donate a copy of your genealogy to your local library, just to have another place where it can be seen. In any case, everything we do in our genealogical research should have another reader besides ourselves.

If someone else will read your genealogy, then perhaps you should write it in such a way that it is understandable. If you will start thinking of your genealogy as work that others will read, then you may take more care in how you prepare the work, organize the work, or make assertions about relationships.

Leaving a genealogy to your unborn great-grandchildren is a wonderful way to leave a legacy. It may be the nearest thing to immortality any of us will ever achieve.

Managing a Genealogical Project
Maybe it is time to for me to talk about techniques for managing a genealogical project – a subject I have written about since 1974, before there were personal computers, printers, or Flip-Pals; and long before there was an Internet. My main concern began with the piles of paper I had created, and I developed a method to organize the paper into notebooks, with retrievable documents and notes. I will describe my methods of getting rid of the piles of paper in four (4) articles. These will be followed, hopefully, by an article by Leland Meitzler describing his digital genealogical database, adapted from the Dollarhide organizing system.

Leland and I first met in 1984 at a genealogy conference in Denver. At our first meeting, he told me that a year earlier he had bought a booklet and package of forms from my first Genealogical Helper ad, something strangely titled, The Dollarhide System for Genealogical Records. Leland said that he had reorganized his entire genealogy collection using that system. Many years and thousands of sheets of paper later, Leland has taken a paper system to a completely digitized computer database. Every note, every photograph, every document, every family group sheet, every pedigree, and every descendancy in his mammoth genealogy collection is being digitized and made electronically available. In doing this, he adapted the Dollarhide System organization concepts he had used in his paper system.

Look for the next four articles, “Piles of Paper” Part 1 – 4. If you are reading this after the fact, all Dollarhide articles that have appeared in the GenealogyBlog are in an archives for retrieval. Go to the alpha list of categories on the right hand side of the blog page and click on “Dollarhide Columns.”

Further reading:
Managing a Genealogical Project, a book by William Dollarhide.
A Genealogist’s InstaGuide: Dollarhide’s Rules and Daffern’s Laws.

Great New Book! Digital Imaging Essentials: Techniques and Tips for Genealogists and Family Historians

My friend, Geoff Rasmussen, has been working on a new book for those of us who wish to use digital images. The book is finally finished and going to press. The book details (using both text and graphics) how to scan, organize, preserve, share, and backup your digital images. I highly recommend the book, in that many of the techniques that Geoff covers in the book are ones that I speak on when lecturing on digital organization, backing up your data, and scanning (including details on using the popular Flip-Pal mobile scanner).

Digital Imaging Essentials: Techniques and Tips for Genealogists and Family Historians will be in print and shipping by the end of November, with a full-color pdf electronic edition available now. The volume is 150 pages in length, 8.5 x 11 inches in size, and the paper edition is in Black & White.

As noted above, this book is also available in an electronic pdf format.

Genealogists use digital imaging technology every day. But what they do not know about it can harm their digital treasures. They have needed a comprehensive, easy-to-read guide, full of illustrated step-by-step instructions to learn how to digitize, organize, preserve, share, and backup their digital collections.

Your wait is over. You now have Digital Imaging Essentials: Techniques and Tips for Genealogists and Family Historians at your fingertips. There are some books that are meant for the coffee table, but this book belongs with you at your computer.

From the very first page you will notice that this book is much more than a boring instructional manual – it is full of real-life examples that not only teach you the right buttons to push, but it thoroughly explains how to get the most of your digital imaging experience. AND this book is written specifically for genealogists!


  • The do-it-right-the-first-time techniques of scanning old documents, and snapping pictures with your digital camera.
  • How to finally get organized so that you can locate any digital image in under a minute.
  • Which file formats and file saving techniques to use to properly preserve your digital images.
  • How to use Adobe’s Photoshop Elements and Google’s Picasa with illustrated, step-by-step instructions and learn about other software choices.
  • How to privately or publicly share your images and videos via printing, emailing, Dropbox, CDs, DVDs, or online via cloud technology.
  • How to access your digital media from any Internet-connected device including your smart phone or tablet.
  • How to develop a backup strategy to protect your collections from digital disaster.

So if you are ready to take your digital pictures to the next level, go ahead, open the book, and have fun!


Click here to preview the Table of Contents, the complete index, and a few selections from the book (31 pages). This may take a couple minutes to download. After previewing the book, click on your back button to return to this screen.

About the Author

Geoffrey D. Rasmussen is the father of four budding genealogists. He graduated with a degree in Genealogy and Family History from Brigham Young University and has served as director and vice-president of the Utah Genealogical Association. He is a dynamic genealogy speaker on all forms of genealogy technology, and as host of the Legacy Family Tree webinar series, has spoken virtually to nearly 100 different countries. He recently received the Distinguished Presenter Award at the prestigious RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City. He has authored books, videos, articles, and websites, and develops the Legacy Family Tree software program. On a personal note, Geoff enjoys playing the piano, organ, cello and basketball. His favorite places are cemeteries, the ocean, and hanging out with other genealogists. He met and proposed to his wife in a Family History Center.

Digital Imaging Essentials: Techniques and Tips for Genealogists and Family Historians; by Geoff Rasmussen; Nov 2012; 150 pp; 8.5×11; Black & White; Item #: JF02; $19.95

Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering Your Family History

Each family history is different, as are the stories of each ancestor. The research trail is equally unique for each family history. In Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering Your Family History, Barry J. Ewell shares his experiences in hope of helping other researchers make their path to research success just a little easier. This books serves as research guide with exceptional example from the author’s experience with just enough encouragement to keep the reader going through tough times.

From his own experience, Ewell has this to say:

“With experience and focused persistence, the journey became easier, increasingly successful, and more rewarding. I’ve learned how to do the following:

  • ask the right questions to be led to answers;
  • find, access, and explore genealogical resources quickly;
  • develop, expand, and sharpen my genealogy research skills;
  • recognize clues and use them to trace and explore my family ties;
  • resolve genealogical ‘brick walls’;
  • effectively use technology in research and preservation;
  • learn to find and use specific country, state, and county records; and
  • help others with their genealogy research.”

The desire to help others is evident in this newly published book. Ewell’s genealogical journey has been as difficult as anyone else has experienced. However, he has found a way to share his journey in such a way that other genealogists will find encouragement along with additional skills and insights adaptable to their own research process. And, the reading is both easy and fun. Just follow this simple advice from the author,

  • Open your mind to ideas
  • Choose what you need
  • Use what you take
  • Share what you learn

and you will have gained something from these pages.





Lesson 1: Genealogy is a Repeatable Process

Lesson 2: Start Organized, Stay Organized

Lesson 3: Every Record Has Value

Lesson 4: Where to Find Records

Lesson 5: How to Search the Internet like a Genealogist

Lesson 6: Field Research is Required

Lesson 7: Cite and Verify Every Source

Lesson 8: If Sherlock Holmes Were a Genealogists

Lesson 9: Learn to Network

Lesson 10: Stay Connected to the Network

Lesson 11: Carefully Search Ancestor Writings

Lesson 12: Search Every Page of Hometown Newspapers

Lesson 13: Learn to Find the Origins of Immigrant Ancestors

Lesson 14: The Oral Interview is the Most Valued Research

Lesson 15: Write and Publish Your Story

Epilogue: Genealogy, Prayer, and Inspiration

About the Author


To order Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering Your Family History, published in 2012, click the title to visit Family Roots Publishing; Regular Price: $24.99.

Dollarhide Numbering Explained

Almost anyone who has spent any serious time in family history knows the name William Dollarhide. He has authored 13 books and countless articles. He has also spoken at over 700 national and local events and societies in almost every state in the country.  Through his experience in working with his own family history records, Dollarhide devised an enhanced numbering system for genealogical databases. Though he never gave this system an official name, over years other genealogists came to call it the Dollarhide Numbering System.

In a newly published book, author Brian R. Smith formalizes the Dollarhide numbering system, organizing its principles and describing it in plain English. Dollarhide Numbering for Genealogists – An Authorized Guide for the Serious User provides a step-by-step guide to using the Dollarhide numbering system.

Smith first explains the two most common systems used in genealogy, Ahnentafel numbering for ancestors and the Henry system for descendants. The Dollarhide system combines the two, creating a single system capable of indexing almost any relationship one could find within an extended family. (This system allows for not only indexing direct relations but also relatives such as multiple spouses (including former and later marriages), half siblings, adopted and step children, other non-blood relations, and much more.)

This authorized guide can help improve the indexing system of any genealogist. Unfortunately, most software lacks the ability to index with the depth of the Dollarhide system. However, to use the Dollarhide system within family history software, the user can easily manually enter each person’s number. This may be too much work for some, but for those looking to create a comprehensive catalog of their database the Dollarhide Numbering system is for you. Too get a good handle on working with this system, look no further than Brian R. Smith’s new handbook, Dollarhide Numbering for Genealogists.