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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Standard Operating Procedure

The files stored between my ears are sometimes less than accessible. Whether you call them senior moments or information overload, they have the potential to thwart my efforts at organized research. Hence my SOP:

Active surnames have a hanging file with the surname on the label in all CAPS. Active direct line surnames also have yellow file folders labeled as follows:
  • Census Records/City Directories
  • Charts and Trees
  • Correspondence
  • Multiple Births, Marriages, Deaths
  • Photographs
  • Requires Further Action
Documents in the Census Records/City Directories folder are placed with census in the front and city directories in back. Each group is arranged in reverse chronological order; i.e. most current in front.

Use the same system in the Charts and Trees folder; charts in front, trees in back. Arrange each group in reverse chronological order.

File Correspondence in reverse chronological order.

The Multiple Births, Marriages, Deaths folder consists of four groups; births, marriages, deaths, and misc. Each group is in reverse chronological order.

Label and scan pictures to appropriate computer files, FTM, and Store originals in archival-quality containers. Arrange copies by ancestors' given names and store in Photographs.

Arrange the items in the Requires Further Action folder in order of priority. Highest priority items are in the front, lower priority items behind.

Type file folder labels in 14pt Arial font. Surnames are in CAPS on the top line, then space, hyphen, space, and year of birth. Given names are in upper and lower case on the second line. Highlight given names in yellow on direct line ancestors’ file folder labels.

Each direct line ancestor has a manila file folder containing a current Family Group Sheet and documents that are exclusive to him/her. These documents are arranged in reverse chronological order. Working copies of active family group sheets are in my genealogy brief case, filed under the appropriate surname.

Collateral ancestors have a kinship report in the front of their folder listing immediate family members.

File a copy of each marriage record in both spouses’ folders.

Documentation for children is filed in their father’s folder (in birth order) unless a.) the quantity is such that a separate folder is necessary for the child or b.) the father is unknown. In the latter case, file documentation in the mother’s folder.

For each direct line ancestor; locate, secure documentation, and cite sources for at least the:
  • date and place of birth
  • date and place of baptism and/or confirmation
  • date and place of marriage and/or divorce
  • date and method of immigration (when applicable); naturalization records
  • residences (census records, city directories, tax records)
  • land ownership, mortgages, deeds
  • cause, date and place of death
  • wills when available
  • date and place of burial and photo of headstone when possible
Create a timeline for each family group; include political leaders and world events during the ancestor’s lifetime.

Create maps with residences and their proximity to local churches, schools etc.

Log this info in the facts section of Family Tree Maker. Cite sources and add any additional information to the Notes section.

Update the public tree on Ancestry. Update the LITPL web site. Update Find A Grave. Post new info on Twitter and Facebook.

Keep my fingers crossed that someone researching the same line finds me.


Darlene said...


I had seen your other post before Spring Cleaning Genealogy Style where you posted your Standard Operating Procedure. I like some of the tidbits and will surely incorporate some from both posts into my own. Mainly the filename Standard Operating Procedure. Right now, mine is called "renaming files with standard naming conventions.txt". Every time I want to find the file, I have to search using the keyword "standard" because I can never remember the filename. Keep up the good work.

Laura said...

Thanks Darlene! Now I'm hard at work cleaning up some folders that strayed from the SOP. ;o)

Nancy said...

Wow, you are really organized - and detail oriented! I always appreciate learning how others organize their files because I learn something(s) that I can use with my own organization even if I don't use everything. This was a very helpful post. Thank you.

Laura said...

Thanks Nancy, I'm glad you enjoyed the post! I hope there is an idea or two you can use.

Nolichucky Roots said...

Brilliant! Since I have no SOP and my resolutions for 2011 are headed by getting my paper organized I may just adopt your procedures whole cloth. I'll call it my LOP. Thanks so for sharing this.

Laura said...

LOP ~ love it! :o)

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