Spring Cleaning your Ancestry Research


Spring Cleaning your Ancestry Research

This winter seemed like it was extra-long, didn’t it? But now that it’s spring, our thoughts naturally turn to taking control of our households, cleaning up, throwing out the unnecessary, and starting fresh. It feels so good! If you’re just getting started with researching your family history or if you’re a seasoned veteran, spring cleaning your ancestry research is a worthwhile project. Here are our three favorite quick-and-dirty tips for tidying up those files.

1. Curate Ancestry Keepers—But Get Real

Start with some hard decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. This is the satisfying part, but it can also be the most difficult. Chances are good that you’ve been accumulating more photographs or other resources than you need or want.

Make an inventory of everything you’ve hung onto and divide them into different categories:

Keepers: Things you can use for your research and record-keeping
Shareables: Items you may not need but may be of value to someone else in your family
Giveaways: These can include duplicate documents or photos or unidentified items you ended up with. Consider donating giveaways to your local historical society

You won’t feel so overwhelmed by sheer amounts of ancestry stuff once your treasure trove is pared down, and you may even get reacquainted with long-lost important items you’d forgotten you had. Curating your ancestry now makes you a more efficient researcher over the long term.

2. Digitize Ancestry-related Pics and Docs and More!

If your office is cluttered with old photos and documents, this is a great place to start your spring-cleaning efforts. Think of all the space you’ll reclaim! Even more important than tidying the mess is the fact that digitizing helps preserve these precious assets for generations to come and acts as a safeguard against potential loss too. Here are some ideas for things you can digitize:

  • Family photos
  • Photos of family heirlooms, ancestral homes, and important locations in your family history
  • Birth, marriage, and death records
  • Video and cassette recordings

A scanner is the best friend of every family-history enthusiast. In case of fire or flood, it’s so much easier to grab your laptop than it is to collect all your paper records. Going digital as much as possible is the wise thing to do.

3. Create an Ancestry Organizational Routine

If you don’t already have one in place, creating an organizational routine makes next year’s ancestry spring cleaning a piece of cake! Create folders on your desktop to temporarily store digital items and dedicate a box in your working area for temporarily store hard-copy resources. You can label them however works best for you, but here are some suggestions:

To-do: Items that need to be labeled, scanned, further researched, etc.
To store: Items that you’re done with that are ready to be filed or otherwise stored

As part of your routine, empty these files or boxes either once a week or once a month. The more you stick to this routine, the less you’ll have to think about it, and before you know it, the process will be automatic. As with most everything else in life, a little work done in small increments helps to mitigate the need for bigger jobs later.

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A Final Thought about Spring Cleaning Ancestry

As with most everything else in life, a little work done in small increments helps to mitigate the need for bigger jobs later.

Do you have additional tips for getting organized? Feel free to share your comments.


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May 23, 2018 Jennifer

I thought i would get a family tree along with the dna i sent in and paid for. I do not understand the results i got of the migratory route that was sent to me.
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May 23, 2018 Shirley

Thank you for advice<br /> Every woman keeps her family name. Only here do the women who marry take on the husband's name It makes It hard to find people i thought it was the Enlish way but , Royalty doesn't do that
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May 02, 2018 pkaren sw gill

im doing this to see if my fathers family and mothers family have a larg anstery on any other then what i am<br /> irish frinch dutch native amricanindian jew english-fathersside grand mother i need to know if she had anything else beside dutch in her family that is related in her tree i know my grand mother on my mom side is frence and i dont know if she has anything else in her tree elither my grand father my uncle did the dna and found out he was italian and spanish but dont know where and from what country or if it is from the usa
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