Saturday, January 16, 2016

FINALLY Get Organized - Week 2

Late last year, I stumbled on FINALLY Get Organized!, a year-long project to organize genealogy papers and digital files in 2016. I really need to work on getting 18 years worth of files organized and digitized, as well as updating my Legacy file. Although the FINALLY Get Organized! method uses binders, I had already decided to change from binders to hanging files, and will stick to that method. (I need more room on the bookcase for books, so moving to a filing cabinet makes more sense given my limited space.)

Week 2 Checklist:
  • This week's task was to document and file your surname's lines, back to your great-grandfather. Since I'm using hanging files instead of binders, I labelled a hanging file and set up manila files for my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. I knew I had been lazy about my parents and grandparents, and got the documentation for those generations finished up early in the week. My great-grandparents, Arthur & Frances (Horton) Beem, were another matter, though. I had about 15 years of city directories from Jacksonville, Florida that needed to be documented in Legacy. Talk about tedious! Doing this, though, I realized that they moved almost every year between 1924-1944, when Frances died. I also have several documents that I need to order, and have started with Arthur's Spanish-American War pension file. Fortunately it is still with the Department of Veterans Affairs, which makes it a lot more affordable than if it was with NARA. After Frances died, Arthur went to Mexico, so I don't have a lot of any information about the last 10 years of his life. The only documentation I have for his death is from a family Bible record. I'm hoping the pension file will show where he lived in Mexico, and provide further evidence for the death date in the Bible. 
  • Part of my journey in getting organized is to switch to digital records as much as possible, so I scanned or downloaded each of my source documents. Now the only paper files I have for these four generations of Beems are photos and unique documents that I can't get elsewhere, such as my dad's ordination certificate. I've printed detailed family group sheets for each of these generations, and placed those in the appropriate manila file. 
  • The last two tasks are to write up a summary of your filing system (both paper and digital), and to write a "genealogy" codicil to your will. I've written the summaries, but I don't have a will, since I don't really have any assets. Instead, I've written a brief set of instructions on what I want done with my research, and will send them to two family members that I trust to follow through. I've also placed a printed copy of all of these documents in the hanging file folder that has my pedigree charts, which sits at the front of the filing cabinet. 

My dad, John Beem, 1967

Jacksonville (Florida) City Directory, 1938, showing my grandparents (John & Juanita Beem)
and my great-grandparents (Arthur & Frances Beem)

Other Notes:

I'm not very good at keeping to-do lists or research logs, which given my task-oriented nature, is kind of strange. I'm trying to do better with that, so as I worked in Legacy this week, I created to-do items for each generation. I also found some research log forms that I like, and have placed a copy in each manila folder. Now as I research a family, I can keep a written log of what I have looked at and the results.

City directories are great resources, but documenting each year can get tedious! I did a couple of years at a time, and by Friday night I had 15 years of directories fully documented, including transcriptions in the source documentation. Even though this week's task was not focused on siblings, it was easy to add the listings for my grandfather's sisters with Legacy's source clipboard, so their entries are documented as well - at least up until they got married.

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