By now all of you that are following along should have your file cabinets (or whatever) looking pretty darn spiffy.

Each of you should be able to lay your hands on just about any type of paper you need on a particular ancestor.

At the very least, you should know what you do and don't possess when it comes to your data collections.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on just how you look at it; there is more to data collections then the paper articles.

These are the items that you have collected from emails or that other researchers have generously sent to you. Don't forget also the various items that you have download from the different websites.

These items need organization just as much as the paper items.

In my opinion they actually need it more.

The reason that I make this last statement is that in your paper articles, they are pretty much viewable each time you sort through your file cabinet looking for something. The other items don't tend to be viewed over quite that much and "out of sight, out of mind".

For the ease of this entry, I am going to assume that most of you are working with using CD's.

However, I realize that many of you are still working with either floppy disks or zip disks. Which ever format you choose is just fine. Make the mental adjustments when reading this so that it is not necessary for me to type different sections.

In making the decision on just how your CD's will be broken down into categories, consider this:

Each of us have what I call a few "Main Family Lines".

These are most likely your surname or your mother's. Or they are surnames that you have just mountains of data on. You will need to be the one to make that decision.

Just to give you some idea;

Most of you that regularly correspond with me know my main family lineages, but bear with me.

My main lines are Carter, Baldwin, Evans, Truax, McCullough, Murphy, Goss, Ratts, and Secrest

Each of those above have their own CD. All data pertaining to that surname is on that CD. Each of those surnames is on my paternal side. Any surname on my paternal side that doesn't have its own CD; goes on the CD designated for the Carter "side".

The exception is the Carter CD. I have two of them.

1. Carter ONLY -- this CD is for items strictly pertaining to the persons with the surname of Carter and the ones that married into the original family.

2. Carter SIDE-- This is for the surnames that although they are on the Carter side, I don't have enough data on them to warrant their own CD.

When working with a CD it is important to be aware of the massive amount of storage space that they are capable of.

In using the "File" button, choose the option of "new" and then the option of "Folder".

This creates a new unnamed folder. You rename it as it fits your family line.

For example: Lets take the CD that I have designated for the Baldwin surname.

As I research each of the original children, I have a folder created for each of them. Any data I have pertaining to that person goes into that folder.

I also have a folder on the CD for things such as marriages or census or just whatever category I need. There is also a folder created for any surnames that might have married into this Baldwin family. These are of course, surnames that don't warrant their own CD. There is also a folder on each CD for obituaries.

In this way, when I am looking for data on the Baldwin family, I know it is on this CD. If I have been careful in my storage, it is filed in the appropriate folder on the CD.

Each surname CD is divided in the same fashion. For example, the Goss surname CD has folders for whatever persons in that family I have data for in addition to folders for the surnames of Sandy and Hodges. These are surnames that have entered into the Goss family several times, but I don't have enough electronic (non paper) data to create a CD for just them. It is logical to look for info on them with the family they married in to.

In addition to the Surname CD's I also have CD's for:

Census, Cemeteries, Marriages, Maps, Owen County, Putnam County, Morgan County, Monroe County, State Records (these being records from outside Indiana), Military Records, Land Records, Ship Listings, Miscellaneous, Genealogy Tips (how-to's), 3 photo CDs divided according to paternal side and maternal side and cemetery photos. I have additional CD's as needed for any books I might download off the internet.

This "category" CD's will of course be determined as to how they best suit your own research.

During this week, create your CD's and place what data you have as it fits into them using the folders.

Folders can also be created using the floppy disks or zip disks.

Label your CD's carefully so you know what is on them.

Next week, we will get into using these CD's on a regular basis and on the art of making them a useful tool.