Monday, August 29, 2011

Tracing Mormon Pioneer Ancestors: Organizing Your Findings

Computer Organization

As you do your research, you will need some way keep all your photos and documents organized in your filing cabinet and on your computer. Here is my system for the computer. First, I have four folders named after each of my grandparents. This is my current family line:

Opening up the next level of folder shows this:

Opening up the next level of folder shows this:

This is a file of newspaper articles, and I have named each article with the date of publication, the contents, and the source. For example, the first one is titled, "1866.08.16LitsonsArriveinUTDesNewsFullP1.pdf." That information will allow me to quickly write a formal citation or find the article again.

You certainly don't need to use my system, but you need to figure out a logical system for your own projects.


Always record sources for information. If a cousin sends photographs or histories, make sure you note this. Sometimes I do this by placing the items in a separate folder with the name of the donor. Sometimes I add the donor's name to the end of the file name. Sometimes I add the source for the information into the file information box.

Also, keep thorough notes on sources for every piece of information entered into a genealogy program. Each genealogy program will allow you to enter source information. This is the citation in RootsMagic for the 1841 Welsh Census showing Richard Litson:

It does take time, but it makes your work authoritative and prevents unnecessary duplication of effort by yourself or others.

Get Permission as Needed

I have usually found that people are more than willing to share information and happy to have me put it on the blog so that all the descendants of the family can access the information. But make sure you ask! And if you will want to publish the picture or history, you may need to get the permission in writing.

If information has been created by an institution, or is under copyright, things may be a little more complicated. Here is a good, brief discussion of copyright.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons licenses allow people to grant others permission to use their works, sometimes with particular conditions including attribution and whether or not the work may be altered. The large photography site Flickr allows users to search for photos available to use under a Creative Commons license. I have regularly used the photographs provided by generous people worldwide for illustrating the stories on this blog.

Assignment #5

Make sure you have folders on your computer set up for your genealogical information.

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