Notebooks for Recording Genealogical Information (National Institute)
The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Methodology - Part 1: Getting Started, Methodology - Part 2: Organizing and Skillbuilding, Methodology - Part 3: More Strategies, Methodology - Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording, Methodology - Part 5: How To Prove It, and Methodology - Part 6: Professional Preparation and Practice by Louise St Denis, Brenda Dougall Merriman and Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Notebooks[edit | edit source]
Use a standard size of paper and then small notes don’t get mislaid inside a file. I have found that coil notebooks are the best because they can be folded back (unlike most binders) and thus take up less space in a crowded archive. They do not suffer from the clutzy syndrome wherein a cascade of paper falls from a binder just at the moment you are trying to impress the archivist or get help from the librarian!
My method is to use coil notebooks and write on one side of the page only. This way my pages stay together whilst working, yet they can be separated when I get home in order to put items about each family in their respective files or binders. Another good type of standard paper is engineering pads having small squares; they are glued at the top so tear off easily, and the faint lines facilitate the preparation of columns when necessary.
I use a separate page for each surname and each source. When I return home I highlight the source and ancestor name on the top of the pages written that day, then simply tear out, staple like pages together as necessary, and place in the appropriate ancestor or family file. A pocket inside the notebook is handy for safekeeping of notes you bring with you or photocopies that you make at the archive.
It is important to get into the habit of filing work pages as soon as possible and certainly before your next archive trip. One of the reasons many family historians don’t proceed very far is that they may have the information that they need but they can’t find it because it isn’t filed properly. Frequent rummaging through a huge pile of unsorted notes and photocopies is a waste of time and effort. Never throw out your original notes, even though you may transfer the information. It is surprising how many times you will want to check them.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Methodology - Part 1: Getting Started, Methodology - Part 2: Organizing and Skillbuilding, Methodology - Part 3: More Strategies, Methodology - Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording, Methodology - Part 5: How To Prove It, and Methodology - Part 6: Professional Preparation and Practice offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studie. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
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