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Organization: Phase One

This lesson will discuss the first aspect of organization -- using forms and charts to manage that unruly collection of information. Each type of chart or form listed below will be described, and examples provided as to their use. Whether or not you use them is up to you, as each person has their preferences about what works for them. I would suggest you try each form once, just to get a feel for its organizing capability.

Let's take it one step at a time (see how organized we are already!):

  1. Gather up your miscellaneous notes, photocopy orphans, scraps of paper with notes on them, citations, post-it notes, etc.
  2. Place them in a large box, bag, ceremonial fertility mask, or whatever container you have.
  3. Sort the through the items, and place them into stacks according to their reference--individual or surname.
  4. Information which is not specific to one individual can be placed in a general reference stack (i.e., bibliography, correspondence info).
  5. Magazine and newspaper articles, lecture notes, and so on can be sorted by surname, location, or topic.
  6. Don't worry about having too many stacks -- there is no problem which is not made easier by breaking it down to smaller pieces.
  7. Once you have all of the miscellaneous bits arranged in stacks, begin entering the information, one stack at a time, on the appropriate forms. Note: some forms and charts are created for just one individual, others are for multiple people, so make sure you are recording information on the proper form!
  8. Some forms may be generated by computer, such as family group sheets, pedigree charts, ahnentafels, and alphabetical ancestor lists. Be sure to print out all sources, notes, and citations!
  9. Record ALL the information you have, including the source of the information, date, location, etc. In some instances, you may want to save the piece of paper itself...photocopies of articles, signatures, etc. can be pasted or taped to a standard size sheet of paper, or placed in a archival paper holder.
  10. Once you've finished entering the information you have on the reference forms and charts, you will be able to generate information gathering and research planning forms.

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