Sunday, 26 October 2014

File organisation - the folder structure

A key part of my file organisation scheme has to do with the folder hierarchy I use. With this folder hierarchy, I know where to place each file I download or generate. A place for every file and every file in its place. ;^)
The very top level of my Family History folder[1]
The very first level of my folder hierarchy is quite simply a single folder for my current project. At the moment that project is called simply Bannisters of Stretford. So in my Family History folder, I have created a folder called Bannisters of Stretford - nice and simple. 8^)
My family project folder
Drilling down into my Bannisters of Stretford folder reveals the real start of this structure. In this folder I have created folders for the People, Places and Sources in my family tree, along with some extra folders to store pictures and books that do not belong in the Sources folder.

Let's look at each of the folders in turn...
Books (Non source) folder
The Books (Non source) folder at this level is for "non source" books - i.e., books that are not used as sources for the family tree. This includes books that I create using the data in my tree and a scanned copy of the book that my cousin created for our family reunion several years ago.
People folder
The People folder is where I create folders for family groups. Within these folders I create a folder for each person and in the individual's folder I create aliases (or links) to source documents and pictures for that person - I will describe this process in detail in a future post. The folders at this level are for each surname in my family tree. (I have only recently started rebuilding my tree, so this is a bit sparse at the moment.) If I do not know the surname of a person they will be placed in the zz UNKNOWN[2] folder. I will go into much more detail about this folder's structure in a future post.
Pictures folder
The Pictures folder should need no real explanation - it is where I will store pictures of the people and places in my family tree. At the moment it is empty because I have not yet moved over my pictures.
Places folder
The Places folder contains sub-folders for each place in my family tree. I will go into more detail about the layout of this folder in a later post.
Sources folder
Finally we get to the last folder at this level - Sources. The Sources folder is where I store the original files for all my sources. As you can see the source documents are broken down by source type:

  • BMD - All sources related to births, marriages and deaths. These include parish registers, BMD registers and certificates, and other related documents such as baptism cards and funeral service and memorial documents.
  • Books - Contains all books that are used as sources. This mainly includes town histories and books written by local historical societies.
  • Censuses - All census related documents.
  • Education Documents - School reports, school registers, copies of any certificates earned.
  • Electoral Rolls - Copies of electoral rolls and poll books.
  • Legal Documents - Any legal documents and court cases that my ancestors might have been involved in. This includes wills and probate documents[3] and divorce proceedings[4].
  • Maps - Just what it says on the tin - maps.
  • Military Documents - Draft cards, service papers, medals and honors.
  • Newspapers - Any newspaper articles that have been used as sources.
  • Other Documents - anything else that doesn't easily fit into one of the other categories.
Many of these should be self explanatory, but the next post in this series will be exploring the Sources folder in more detail. Some of the sources sub-folders have further sub-folders which will need some explaining before I finally get to the actual files themselves.

[1] Note that I have a few other folders in my Family History folder. These are where I store the data files used by the genealogy app I use (MacFamilyTree), resources downloaded from various magazines I subscribe to and a couple of working folders where I store files waiting to be processed.
[2] I use the "zz" prefix to force the Unknown folder to sort at the bottom of the list.
[3] Probate proceedings may be initiated years (or even decades!) after the person's death, so I thought it made sense to store them here under Legal Documents rather than BMD.
[4] No real reason for divorces to be placed here - they could probably live under BMD, but I have a legal folder, why not use it?

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