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Geoff Tani
04 November 2005, 09:00 AM
(Sorry for the long post)

I wonder if anyone could give me some advice about how they organize their genealogical documents, in particular what kind of coding system they use.

Like many of you, I have accumulated hundreds of genealogy documents. Birth certificates, census records, old letters, graduation certificates, membership cards, passports, and on and on. Reunion allows you to enter sources. But Reunion sources seems insufficient to me in some key ways. In particular, I want a code for each source that I can attach to the physical source as a label. Reunion 8 does not generate the kind of coded label I want. (If I'm wrong, please correct me!)

So, I made a simple FileMaker database in which 1 record in the database equals 1 document (a document is a source). Each record has a code. For example:

R-23-LETR-E-Smith-3

R = record (ie, a paper document, as opposed to a different broad category, like "N" for negative of an old photograph)
23 = unique number
LETR = abbreviation for "letter" (other abbreviations include MAP, CENS, etc.)
E = English (documents in other languages would be labeled, for example, G for German, J for Japanese, etc. I have lots of foreign language documents.)
Smith = the name of the family that the document pertains to
3 = number of pages in the document

My goal for this coding system was to have a label that I could easily attach to the hard copy document and to the electronic scan (as the filename). Equally important, I wanted a label that is easy to read. A label that is just a string of numbers is not user friendly. With this label, I can tell what the document is without having to look at the document itself.

Many of you are more experienced with coding / labeling systems than I am. Could you please tell me about the system that you use? I am grateful for any feedback, but my specific questions are:

1. What information do you represent in your label? Am I missing something important? Do you list the family name on the label or not? (#2 and #3 are for people who do list the family name.)

2. How do you handle the family name on the label? It is handy for me to have the family name included in the label. However, there are lots of cases where people change family names. A woman was born a SMITH, but married a JONES, then divorced, then married a ROBERTS.... If I have records for her throughout her life (her birth certificate, her marriage certificate, her death certificate), what family name should I use?

3. How do you handle the family name in the label for documents that involve more than one family? For example, a wedding reception guest list in which many SMITHs and JONESs are listed.

Side note: I know that FileMaker has repeating fields, which would allow me to lists multiple families. However, repeating fields do not export cleanly, and a label like R-23-LETR-E-SmithJonesRoberts-3 becomes less reader friendly. If possible, I want to have just one family name in the label.

Thank you very much!

theKiwi
04 November 2005, 09:09 AM
Well in my apparently very simplistic method I file everything by the Reunion assigned Source number.

This includes electronic things like eMail messages, digital pictures of headstones, or images saved from ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk etc etc. I print out a copy of it and put in a folder by numerical order of the source.

Roger

kyuck
04 November 2005, 08:58 PM
How do you handle the family name on the label? It is handy for me to have the family name included in the label. However, there are lots of cases where people change family names. A woman was born a SMITH, but married a JONES, then divorced, then married a ROBERTS.... If I have records for her throughout her life (her birth certificate, her marriage certificate, her death certificate), what family name should I use?I have always used the persons birth name in this case. It tends to keep things together when the name changes.

STEVE
05 November 2005, 06:02 AM
I wonder if anyone could give me some advice about how they organize their genealogical documents, in particular what kind of coding system they use.I use a layered system. I have a database that assigns a simple serial number to each document:

?2005-0029

That's, Greek Delta (for document); the year;-(0001-9999)

The database fields include:

Serial Number: Machine assigned (auto)
Entered: Date information entered (auto)
Date: Date of document
Source: Origin of document
Location: Physical location of document.*
Concerning: A list of people and/or the purpose of the document

Geoff Tani
20 November 2005, 07:09 PM
Thank you, everyone, for the helpful suggestions. Reading about the advantages of a simple number-only system has made me regret possibly wasting a lot of time thinkng up an elaborate system. Perhaps because of this, I am still thinking about which way to go: simple or elaborate.

Anyway, thank you very much.