As mentioned, this installment will be covering the type of filing system I use. Again, I state that if you have a better system, by all means use it. Please, remember that if you see something mentioned here that you don't have, just use what you have. The goal is for you to get organized; not go out and buy stuff. When I mention file cabinet, please mentally insert (box or drawer) if that is what you use so I am not repeating myself.


The items that I operate with are:

1 small 2 drawer filing cabinet

(The size is controlled by space constraints)

The system that you use here can be one of a few:

Hanging Folders

I use hanging folders the different main surnames that I am currently working with. These "Surname Folders" are in the top drawer of my filing cabinet. (We will get to the others in a moment)

Hanging folders are a little more expensive in the beginning, but with their removable label tabs, you can change the surnames as your researching needs shift. This saves money in the long run. I am still using the same box of 100 that I bought five years ago by changing them out.

Many of you simply research your own family lines and some of you, like myself, also research their spouses lineages. Although you are searching for many different families; you don't need to have that many different cabinets. There are other ways of keeping your families separate.

1. Use a four color system-- Buy hanging folders in four different colors. Use a different color for 1)your maternal side; 2) your paternal side; 3) your spouse's maternal side; 4) your spouse's paternal side


2. Use a four color tab system-- Buy your hanging folders all in one color (probably the cheapest route) then buy your "tabs" in 4 different colors and use as described above. The tabs are fairly inexpensive about 50 for a couple of dollars. They are completely reusable indefinitely.

Manila  Folders

I use these simply because I have them and they work very well, they are not expensive though. With proper usage of a package of sticky white labels, these can be recycled time after time.

I use these manila folders for the separate members of the same families or the different generations; whichever you are most comfortable with. I trace extensively all the siblings in a family, so they come in quite handy.

Okay, not meaning to insult anyone's intelligence, but just making certain we are on the same page here.

Top Drawer of the Cabinet

Hanging Folders-- one for each Surname

Within the Hanging Folders --one manila folder for each different member of the family or generation.


Second Drawer of the Filing Cabinet

More Hanging Folders

These are divided into several different categories depending on just what type of records. The purpose of these separate hanging folders on categories is, for example: On one page of marriage records, you may not necessarily have just one surname, the same goes for births/deaths, etc. For those types of records, they are filed by the "type" of record that they are.  Also, I may have certain portions of County History Books photocopied and those also would go into a category folder.

In a Nutshell: If a record or paper has more then one surname it gets filed under the category. If it only pertains to the ONE surname, then it is filed in the appropriate "Surname Folder".

Currently my "Category Folders" are divided as:

Burials; Church Records; 2 Census Records (A-L & M-Z); County Histories; Maps; 6 Obituary Folders (A-B, C-D, E-K, L-P, R-S, T-Z); Owen County; Putnam County; School Records; Ship Listings

You might of course, find different categories that work better with your individual research. A folder for correspondence might work well or one for miscellaneous.

The obituary folders should be divided according to your family lines. I don't have many in the larger files and just tons in the first two, so divide how you wish. Within each "hanging" obituary folder is a "manila folder" for the surname that those obituaries go to. Smaller obituaries are placed in white envelopes first.

The Church records can be separated with manila folders if you have many of them as can the school records.

The County folders can of course be used for whatever you choose, perhaps a particular state??


Again, this is for whatever form of storage you choose works best for your budget.

I maintain approximately 50 CD's; these may seem like a lot, but believe me they are all used.

It is difficult to decide just what divisions work best; you may indeed need to play with it on paper a little before finding the right combination for you. My own divisions go as follows: (remember, this is just a guideline please disregard the individual surnames! ) and why they are divided this way in order to assist you in deciding how to divide your own. It should be stated that each Surname CD has a folder for obituaries. The decision to allow certain surnames to have their own CD's is based upon just how much data  I have for them. It must be stated that PHOTOS DO NOT GO ONTO THE INDIVIDUAL FAMILY CD'S. THEY HAVE THEIR OWN CD'S.

Baldwin-- This is strictly for the Baldwin lineages (each original child has their own folder) and the names that married into it (they each have their own folder)

Bingham (maternal lineage)-- within this CD I have several different folders for any and all surnames on that side of the family

Books-- This is for downloaded books from the internet or portions of books persons have sent me

Personal Correspondence-- This is a CD used for perhaps one person that you have a constant running correspondence with. Perhaps an older family relative sending you emails containing irreplaceable family info or antecdotes.

Carter Only-- This is used for EXACTLY what it says. For the Carter family and the original children as well as the people who married into those original children.

Carter Side-- Although I have some CD's strictly devoted to only surnames that are on the Carter side of the family; I cannot have a separate CD for each family line or perhaps I have very little data on this or that family and don't want a whole CD for them. So, the surnames that are on the Carter side and don't have their own CD end up on this CD. It is divided with folders for each of those surnames.

Census Records-- This CD is used for all census records that I receive. If they pertain to a certain family, they are placed in a folder under that surname otherwise they are grouped by county/state or just by themselves.

Cemeteries-- This is used for different cemetery listings that I have collected. They cannot be placed with the surnames as they have several different names of course. I have this CD divided into different counties and states as needed.

Five  different County CD's-- These are divided into the Counties of Clay, Morgan, Monroe, Owen and Putnam. Their content is pretty self explanatory.

Deaths-- There are two of these; one for Owen county and one for Putnam County. I would have others if the need arises. A death CD can be many different counties or states, just divided with folders. These two counties I just prefer to keep separate.

Evans-- This is for the Evans family lineages as I have so much data on them and the families that married into them.

Family Book-- This is for when I finish a section of the book I am working on. DON'T LEAVE IT ON YOUR COMPUTER, IN CASE OF A CRASH.

Gedcoms-- This holds any and all Gedcoms sent to me by other researchers

Genealogy Library--This is a collection of the various researching tips I have collected over the years. I work a lot with German ancestry so a file containing the use of umlauts (those little dots over letters) is something I would have in here.

Goss-- A major family lineage for me.

Indian Rolls and 1 Native American-- My husband's ancestry carries me into Native American research so I attempt to download what I can of the Guion Rolls (these are a form of Indian Census records).

Jennings--My husband's family lineage; as this is not a major project for me currently, I have different folders on this for all the lines on his side.

Land Records-- This is again self explanatory

Lockhart-- A major family lineage for me

Maps-- Self Explanatory

Marriages-- This CD is divided into different counties/states as needed

McCullough-- Major family lineage (or one at least which a lot of data)

Military Records-- Self Explanatory

Miscellaneous-- This one is a catch all for a variety of items that don't fit elsewhere.

Murphy-- Family Lineage

Five Photo CD's -- These are divided into: Carter Side Photos; Jennings Side Photos; Cemetery Photos; Bingham Photos; Grandkids Photos

Ratz, Secrest and Truax-- Three separate CD's that are major family lineages for me.

State Records-- These are for records from other states, divided into folders.

Ship Listings--Self Explanatory

I also have several CD's pertaining to the website as well.

If my needs should change, I wouldn't hesitate to change it.

This should give you some idea as to some divisions. I should have one for Wills also except that most of the Wills I have are in hard copy.


It needs to be noted that I also maintain about 14 different notebooks containing much of my data ON PAPER. This is information that is most likely already entered into my Genealogy Program. However, COMPUTERS CRASH. I don't completely trust them, and neither should you. Always keep a paper copy.

Another nice piece of equipment:

A small collection of 3x5 cards with a rubber band around them.

These should be labeled: Births; Deaths; Marriages; Obits; Census; Burials

This doesn't need to be a large collection, it is intended to be used to carry to the library. (No, not all of us have a laptop to carry around) I take these with me and on them are listed the persons that I need that information on so I am prompted to look it up.

I hope I have given someone some ideas of record filing. Sometimes it takes some time to figure out just what will work best for you.