Monday/March Madness: Getting Organized – Genealogy Style

We celebrated my daughter's birthday at "The Lion King" where she met cast members, Marquis Kofi Rodriguez and Shannon Skye Tavarez who play young Simba and Young Nala.

March is always hectic.  Both my children were born in March and as you saw from my last post, so was my grandmother.  It’s pretty much non-stop celebrating all month-long, especially since my husband likes to stretch out a party. (Who could blame him?)  That doesn’t leave much time this month for vacuuming, let along ancestry filing.  This morning, my daughter slipped on a pair of jeans that seemed better suited to fit her doll and this weekend, sorting through emails, I found one months-old  from my genealogy buddy and cousin that really should be looked into. Both my house and my ancestry research are in dire need of some TLC.

I’d much rather tackle my genealogy to-do list than the one for my house, but where to begin?

It’s a good problem to have – so much information that it needs organizing.  But getting overwhelmed usually leads me to inertia.  I don’t want to stop now when I feel so close to finding more about my ancestors.

I still have tons of letters from the Stuart Papers to transcribe.  (These are a collection of letters, obituaries, poems and sermons that belonged to my third great-grandfather, William R. Stuart, Sr. that have already yielded important information like the names of his parents and siblings). To add to that, I received several more letters a few weeks ago with personal insights into said third great-grandfather’s time in the Maryland State Congress.Then there are the dozens of census reports, wills, pictures and deeds stored in my computer that are finally backed up, but still need to be printed out.  That’s before I’ve even begun to research anything new. My  to-do list is feeling pretty long.

Every good business keeps an inventory, so I guess I’ll start by detailing what I have.  Printing out the documents that I have and categorizing them is probably a good place to start.  My new friend, Joel Brink also inspired me to write a timeline.  It’s really helping me see what was happening in my family’s lives against the backdrop of the wider world. It also quickly accentuates gaps in their lives where people go undocumented.  Lastly, I think I’ll give myself a weekly genealogy to-do list, the same way I do for household chores, and hope to check a few things off by week’s end.

I’ve got to go bring cupcakes to my daughter’s school for the final March birthday celebration.

How do you get organized in your house or in your genealogy research?  I could use help with both.



Filed under African-American history, ancestry, family history

6 responses to “Monday/March Madness: Getting Organized – Genealogy Style

  1. I sure wish I could give you some helpful hints, but I think we are in the same boat. I have each family branch in separate notebooks. Some families have more than one, broken down by subject. This all sounds wonderful except for the fact that I have literally tons of papers sitting in bins that need to be sorted by family and filed into said notebooks. This is obviously something that needs large blocks of time and space and I have neither. It does get frustrating.
    Hope you can find some time to work on yours!

  2. Let every March be a memorable one, celebrate it with family as they are the most important people in our lives.
    A simple way to organize yourself is to have weekly goals and measure them each week to see where you are with these goals.

  3. Great photo. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be interested in organization tips, as well.

    Bill 😉
    Author of “Back to the Homeplace”

  4. Liz

    Hi Dionne,
    Try “Dear Myrtle”‘s organization checklists here (start w/Jan.):
    They look very doable. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. 🙂
    I’d like to do the binder thing for my most impt. surnames I want to be able to share w/others easily. The rest I think will remain for now in folders & eventually be mostly digitized.
    Considering Picasa for photo organization, or upgrading my iPhoto. I like the idea of using tags so I can sort by name easily.

  5. Dionne, I am so happy to have found your blog! I’m also transcribing diaries, and I can relate to what you wrote about feeling overwhelmed by too much to do (and too many plans in one’s head). I’m realizing that I need to be a more conscious planner in terms of my time. I generally like to take life and my days as they come, but I’m realizing in the middle of my life that my usual approach isn’t working as well for me as it used to, so I’m trying to watch the natural filers I know to glean tips and inspiration.

    It is also helping me to think in terms of small, baby steps rather than allow myself to spend too much time thinking about the big picture. Some people need to find ways to think more about the big picture. I often need to put on blinders so as not to see it. 🙂

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