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Twigs & Trees with Rhonda: Remember Bookmarks Online
by Rhonda R. McClure

September 09, 1999
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

You've worked hard all night long. In fact, your spouse has given you an ultimatum to turn off the computer or sleep with the dog in the dog house for the night. Of course that ultimatum arrives just when you discover the best Web site for your hard to pin down SICKAFUS line. However, in the name of matrimonial harmony, you decide to investigate the site the next evening. After all, you can get back there, right?

It is only as you try to recreate the steps from the evening before that the twinges of panic begin to nudge aside the self-confidence of the evening before. And as you sit there kicking yourself, your thirteen-year old son pops off with words worse than "I told you so." when he says "You should have bookmarked it." And the worst part about this whole thing is that your son is correct, you should have bookmarked the site the night before.

Bookmarks or Favorites, regardless of what they are called, need to be used effectively.

Getting Organized

You may be sitting there mumbling that you have already used your bookmarks and now you can't find anything in the bookmarks because you have so many. Like everything else, genealogists don't do bookmarks in a small way.

If you have been researching your family tree for more than a few months, it is likely you have set up some sort of organizational system for the filing of your photocopies and other research. This is essential to keeping track of what you are doing and where you are going. Most of us rely on file folders in some organizational manner, whether it be ahnentafel numbers or alphabetical by surname. Similar organization can be done where your bookmarks are concerned.

Of course, each person will probably find a way that works best for them. So, I present to you one possible way to create folders to organize the many Web sites you are likely to collect as you surf along the Internet.

Electronic Folders

Your browser has some default folders. If you are using Internet Explorer, these folders will be found under Favorites and may consist of such subjects as Channels, Links, Imported Bookmarks, and so on. If you are using Netscape's Navigator, then you will want to click the Bookmarks button to see folders for such things as Personal Toolbar Folder, Search and Directories, and News and Sports. Many people don't realize that you can create new folders and that you can determine what URLs go in which folders.

The first thing I do is to create my main folder. I confess, it is very unoriginal. I label it Rhonda's Research. There is method to this. I can create a similar main folder for my husband's lines. Once I have created the main folder, I then create sub-folders for the top level subjects:

  • Surnames
  • Localities
  • Methodology

Under each of these folders, I then create, as needed folders for the surnames I am working on and the localities I am concentrating on. Currently I am researching my MOON, SICKAFUS, STANDERFER and HERENDEEN lines. Therefore, I have created folders under the Surnames folder for these names. As I come across a web site devoted to one of these surnames, I save the URL in the appropriate folder.

Under the Localities folder, I have created sub-folders for some of the areas that I am working on. These include Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Massachusetts. Now, since these are rather broad, I have also included one further level of folders for counties and towns (in the case of the New England states) for sites I wish to return to.

To give you an idea of what my bookmarks look like, here is an example:

    --Rhonda's Research
          --Moultrie County
          --Piatt County
          --Orange County


You will notice that I have not yet mentioned my last main folder, methodology. This is for those sites that tell you how to research your family tree. Sites of interest could be the Online Classes, such as those found in Family Tree Maker's Online University.

In Conclusion

This is just one way in which to organize bookmarks. You may prefer to do it a different way. Regardless of how you elect to do this, it is very important that you come up with some way of keeping track of your bookmarks so that you can always return to the Web sites when you need them.

See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

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