I used to be a paper gal. But when it comes to my genealogy records, I’ve stopped pressing the Print button. At the moment almost all my genealogy research is being done online, so I’m really understanding the utility of clicking Save rather than Print.
Part of the reason I’ve been able to make the shift is that I’ve set up a good electronic file system. That gives me confidence that I’ll find what I need on my hard drive.
Switching from paper to electronic has ramifications in at least a couple of areas. It means that it’s changing how I do things from this point forward. That’s no problem. But it also means I have a backlog to deal with. In the past, I’d print and file census documents and other resources I found online, rather than save them electronically. While all the information are recorded in my software (I use Reunion), the source documents themselves might be in a file or might be on my hard drive.
So this week, I’ve been working on marrying the two systems. It’s going to be a long process. What I’m doing is taking out a file folder for a couple and going through the documents, making sure they’re included in my software and seeing if they’re on my hard drive. If they’re not, I’m finding them online and saving them within my file structure.
I’m also taking the opportunity to do one other thing while I’m in there. As I look at census documents, I’m adding siblings of my ancestors to my family tree software, something I blogged about doing a few months ago.
This may sound really tedious to you, but I’m having a good time. It’s allowing me to reacquaint myself with various couples and really pay attention to all their kids, not just my direct ancestor. It’s also giving me the chance to clean up my hard drive and re-file errant files (and move some documents that accidentally ended up in my Genealogy folder). I’m not going through each line systematically. To keep it interesting, I’m jumping from family to family, choosing file folders as my whims take me.
Since I’m no longer printing newly found documents, I guess I’m slowly phasing out my paper files. And that’s okay with me. My hard drive is fast, spacious, orderly, and backed up both to an external hard drive via Time Machine and to a remote computer via Crash Plan Pro.
I’m looking forward to the comfort of having everything on my hard drive. Since I store my paper files in a closet a few steps from my desk, I also love that my data will be at my fingertips whenever I’m using my computer. It’ll be great when I travel, especially if I take research trips, to have all that information available to me. I believe this will be time well spent.