Friday, February 2, 2018

Color Genealogy Filing System

Editor's Note:  This posting was originally posted on my blog on Sunday, February 15, 2009. Links to this blog posting were updated March 10, 2014, January 23, 2018, and February 2, 2018.

Genealogy is a hobby full of papers, electronic files, and heirlooms. The more documents we find on our family, the more the paper piles up. As a result, the excitement of finding information on our ancestors is overshadowed by the weight of piles of papers.

Since beginning this hobby in 1994, I have tried various filing methods such as notebooks and an ancestral number filing system. However, none of these methods have worked effectively for me. Many new genealogist use a notebook to organize their paper documents. I used a notebook also when I began this hobby in 1994. However, after accumulating many documents, a notebook did not work for me. A few years ago, I discovered the Family Roots Organizer Video in my local public library. Later, I purchased my own copy of the video which I watch periodically.

The foundation of this filing system for genealogy papers is based on a color-coding system for the pedigree line. This method recommends using one of four colors for each of your four grandparents.

  • BLUE: Paternal Grandfather
  • GREEN: Paternal Grandmother
  • RED: Maternal Grandfather
  • YELLOW: Maternal Grandmother

  • I modified this filing system to suit my needs. I’m not sure why I didn’t use the exact colors for each grandparent that were suggested, however, the four-color method still works no matter what colors are used for each grandparent. I also choose to use color file folders for both ancestors and collateral family and green hanging folders for all families. I use highlighters on the hanging file folder tabs for each surname. I choose the following colors for each of my grandparents.

  • Minor: Maternal Grandfather (green)
  • Emma: Maternal Grandmother (red)
  • Mack: Paternal Grandfather (blue)
  • Hattie: Paternal Grandmother (yellow)

  • Red, Green, Yellow, and Blue colored file folders are included in the spring colors of an assorted box of folders. Orange is also included in the spring colors and I adopted this color for my growing collection of DNA related files. The fall colors of an assorted box of file folders includes Grey, Maroon, Royal, Teal, and Purple. From this box, I have chosen Purple folder for my files related to white families in my research who are either slave owners, suspected slave owners, or some other relations to my family such as employer, landlord, or neighbor. I use the remaining colors for personal files such as bills and other financial related files.

    Since using this color system for my ancestral files, I can now immediately indentify from a distance the category or grandparent to which each file belongs. By the way, this color filing system can also be used with notebooks, instead of file folders. Some genealogists use white notebooks and place a specific color cover and strip in spine for easy identification.

    For more information, visit the websites below:

    Wednesday, January 10, 2018

    Memory Monday: School House Rock Songs

    Originally posted Monday, September 6, 2010

    Happy 45th Anniversary to School House Rock!

    Recently, I began humming my favorite school house rock song “Conjunction Junction, What’s Your Function? This was a song from a series of school house rock songs which played in between Saturday morning television cartoons during my childhood in the 1970s. I think that the Conjunction tune was my favorite because of the jazzy styled music and lyrics.

    Conjunction, Junction, What's Your Function?

    In addition to being entertained by various cartoons during my childhood, the school house rock songs would help children learn new things or reinforce things already learned in school. Many of the catchy songs were about the parts of speech such as “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, get your adverbs here,” or “Interjections show excitement or emotions! . . . ” There was also a song about how a bill becomes a law which opened up with a personified bill character (piece of paper rolled up) sitting on steps of the nation’s Capitol singing, “I’m just a bill, yes, I’m only a bill, and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill . . .” The character then proceeds to explain the process of a bill becoming a law.

    Thanks to YouTube, I am able to revisit my childhood memories and view and listen to these school house rock tunes from days gone by.

    If you also remember these school house rock tunes, which one was your favorite?
    Lolly Lolly Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here


    How a Bill Becomes a Law

    Sunday, January 7, 2018

    Month 1-Genealogy Do-Over Setting Previous Research Aside-Paper Files

    Mission Statement:  During the 2018 Genealogy Do-Over, I would like to accomplish the following: To improve in organizing and managing my genealogy data, digital and paper files on my pedigree line so that I can pass this information on to my three sisters and nieces and nephews.

    In order to set previous research aside, you have to be able to find the documents. My paper files are scattered throughout my house. Most are housed in boxes upstairs in several rooms; some are organized in colored folders and others are not. However, some are scattered in various locations downstairs where I last worked with them because I did not return the papers to the permanent filing location. Last year, I began putting orphan genealogy papers found downstairs into a banker's boxes.

    Notes to Self
    1. One of my goals this month is to continue this process of gathering genealogy related documents located downstairs into one place into banker's boxes. 
    2. Next, I want to begin sorting and purging the contents of these boxes before placing them in their permanent location. 
    3. My long term goal is to move all of my genealogy related papers and resources to one room upstairs.

    I will report on my progress with this task at a later time.

    Happy Hunting!

    “Professor Dru” aka Drusilla Pair

    Friday, January 5, 2018

    Genealogy Do-Over 2018

    genealogy do-over button
    Most genealogist fall into the craft without any formal training and get caught up in the excitement of “finding their folks.” This excitement leads to the mass accumulation of digital and/or paper documents and other resources which usually become overwhelming. 

    I have been researching my family history for over 23 years and am one of the countless genealogists who finds themselves drowning in tons of genealogy data, documents, and other related resources. The Genealogy Do-Over has been a solution for me and many other genealogists to “learn new research approaches in order to improve and change our genealogy research habits.” The Genealogy Do-Over was started in January 2015 by Thomas MacEntee of Abundant Genealogy. It has returned for 2018 with the added bonus this year of the new DNA Do-Over group---click here to learn more.  

    Although I have participated in the Genealogy Do-Over on several occasions since its inception in 2015, I have never completed the entire process. However, I have decided to begin the process once again. During the 2018 Genealogy Do-Over, I would like to accomplish the following: To improve in organizing and managing my genealogy data, digital and paper files on my pedigree line so that I can pass this information on to my three sisters and nieces and nephews.

    I’m looking forward to much more success this time around! If you have not done so already, sign up now!

    Happy Hunting!

    “Professor Dru” aka Drusilla Pair

    Friday, November 10, 2017

    A Providence Family Connection Through DNA

    I am excited to report that I recently discovered a DNA match who is likely kin to me on my PROVIDENCE family line. My PROVIDENCE ancestry comes through a great-great grandmother, Ersie Jane PROVIDENCE ROBINSON (abt. 1850-bef. 1910) on my father's side. Grandma Ersie Jane lived in Greensville County, Virginia. She married my great-great grandfather Joshua ROBINSON in Greensville County, Virginia on June 9, 1867. Discovering more about my PROVIDENCE ancestry has been achieved by a combination of oral history, document research, and now DNA. 

    I initially learned of Grandma Ersie Jane through oral history in 1995 and 1996 which came from conversations with four siblings of my paternal grandmother Hattie MOORE PAIR (1902-1956): Samuel "Channie" MOORE, Charlie "Jack" MOORE, Washington MOORE, and Della MOORE RICHARDSON. During my initial conversations with my great aunt and three great uncles, who were born between 1900 and 1917, they gave me names of both sets of grandparents and other family members. They did not know Grandma Ersie, but heard about her from their parents and others. Later,I also had conversations with other grandchildren of Grandma Ersie Jane and Grandpa Joshua and gathered and wrote their memories of their grandparents. 

    I don't remember if any of the grandchildren recalled that Grandma Ersie Jane's maiden name was PROVIDENCE. I think that the first time I learned her maiden name was when I discovered her 1867 marriage license to Joshua Robinson. After learning Grandma Ersie Jane's maiden name, I began asking if any of the grandchildren remembered her kinfolks. It was probably my great aunt Della and her first cousin Rozella, who told me that Grandma Ersie Jane had a sister named "Lucretia" who was married to Grandpa Joshua's brother Aaron GREENAWAY. None of the grandchildren remembered any other kinfolks of their grandmother. Research of Lucretia provided invaluable information on Grandma Ersie Jane's family and will be discussed further in a separate blog posting.


    After gathering oral history from my great aunt, great uncles, and other grandchildren of Joshua and Ersie Jane PROVIDENCE ROBINSON, I began searching documents such as marriage licenses, death certificates, and the census on the people they named. 

    Research of documents can verify or dispute oral history as well provide new ancestral information. Much of this research was done in the late 1990s when there were not many resources on the Internet. I spent many hours gathering family history documents the old school way at libraries and courthouses. As I gathered documents on my family, I shared my findings with Grandma Ersie Jane's grandchildren and other family members through conversations as well as in the writing of letters, newsletters, and family reunion books.


    My recently discovered PROVIDENCE DNA match and I both took autosomal DNA tests through Ancestry DNA.  This test analyzed the 22 pairs of chromosomes we inherited from each of our our parents. The results according to Ancestry DNA indicate that we share 27.5 centimorgans across two DNA segments and that we are fourth cousins. It helps to possibly make some type of definite family connection if both parties know names of their ancestors. Since my PROVIDENCE DNA match has a family tree on the the Ancestry DNA website, it enabled me to see that the PROVIDENCE surname is common in both our our ancestral lines. 

    Ancestry DNA results for my PROVIDENCE DNA match and I

    The DNA kit of this new match is being managed by her son and I sent him a message via Ancestry's site earlier this week. Thankfully he responded and I look forward to our journey together to piece together our family history. 

    Genealogy is a continual process of working from the known to the unknown. The known for me through oral history and document research is that I had a great-great grandmother named Ersie Jane PROVIDENCE ROBINSON of Greensville County, Virginia, the daughter of John and Eliza PROVIDENCE. John and Eliza had at least two other children: Lucretia and Matthew. Matthew PROVIDENCE had least two sons: John and William. Matthew's son John was born around 1897 in North Carolina and died in 1952 in Portsmouth, Virginia. 

    The known of the family tree of my PROVIDENCE DNA match indicates that the maiden name of her maternal grandmother Gentelia was PROVIDENCE and that Gentelia's father was named John PROVIDENCE who was born around 1904 and lived in Southampton County, Virginia in 1930.

    It does not appear that John, the son of Matthew and the John PROVIDENCE ancestor of my DNA match were the same person. However, there are numerous other men named "John PROVIDENCE" living in Virginia and North Carolina during the same time as the other two Johns mentioned above.

    Genealogy is a continual process of working from the known to the unknown and I look forward to discovering more about my PROVIDENCE ancestry and making family connections with living descendants through oral history, document research, and DNA.

    Saturday, October 28, 2017

    I'm looking forward to participating as a panelist at this event, along with Ressie Luck, Renate Yarborough-Sanders, and Char McCargo Bah today in Alexandria, Virginia.

    Tuesday, April 18, 2017

    Travel Tuesday: Plans to Visit the Library of Congress

    Library of Congress Reading Room

    Travel Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt listed on the site of Thomas MacEntee of GeneabloggersThis blog topic was suggested by Susan Donaldson of Family History FunThe “Travel Tuesday” daily blog prompt is described as follows:
    Do you have images, quotes or stories about trips your ancestors or family took during their lives? Or have to ventured out on travels to your ancestral homeland as part of your genealogy research?

    This blog prompt has given me quite a few ideas about genealogy travel. In addition to the ideas mentioned above, I plan to write Travel Tuesday blog postings about "plans for future trips and reports on activities of the actual trip to research repositories and historic sites, both local and distant." I am fortunate to live within driving distance from numerous research repositories and historical sites which I believe will be of interest to the genealogy community. I also hope that writing about my future genealogy travel plans will keep me more focused when I get the opportunity to visit these places.

    I will begin my first Travel Tuesday blog posting with writing up plans to visit the Library of Congress in Washington, DC sometime in the near future. I can either drive or take the train. 

    In preparation for this visit, I decided to research this library via YouTube and the Library of Congress website. As a result of this research, I would like to do the following during my visit:

    1. Take the hour long tour.
    2. Obtain a LOC library card.
    3. Browse the subscription databases which are only available for use at the library.
    4. Spend time in the Reading room. I am interested in looking at books on “Rush County, Indiana history”, “Leavenworth, Kansas history”, and “United States Color Troops.”
    I plan to blog about my visit and hope that this will help other genealogists who visit the Library of Congress in the future.

    For additional information about the Library of Congress, see links and videos below:

    How to Find Stuff at the Largest Library in the World

    The Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress

    The Library of Congress Is Your Library

    Inside the Library of Congress

    Sunday, April 16, 2017

    Sacred Sunday: Easter Fashions of the Past

    (Left to right) Sister Odell Hayes and my Grandmother, Emma Johnson Thornton
    Newport News, Virginia, Photo taken during 1950s
    Today, I'm making a commitment to begin blogging again. One of the series I began in 2008 was called "Sacred Sunday" which highlights religious and church history and traditions.

    This is one of my favorite photos of my maternal grandmother, Emma Johnson Thornton (1922-2011) because it represents Easter fashions of the past when women wore hats and gloves to church.  The lady on the left was Sister Odell Hayes (1926-1994) who was a member of my family's church,  The photo was taken sometime during the 1950s in front of our family's church, Gospel Light United Holy Church, Inc., located in Newport News, Virginia, when my mother was a child.

    The women of Gospel Light not only wore hats on Easter, but on every Sunday because they believed the scriptures in the Bible written by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: 4-5, which states: "Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.  But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven." I’m not sure where the tradition of wearing white gloves originated.

    Thursday, May 12, 2016

    Pearls of Wisdom From the Ancestors

    I am pleased to report that I have been invited by a local church to speak at their Women's Breakfast on the topic "Pearls of Wisdom From the Ancestors."  A pearl of wisdom is "an important piece of advice or something people have learned from adversity over time, and often hang onto and pass to others." This talk will be based on the scripture below where Moses reminded the Children of Israel to remember to tell their descendants about how God delivered them from the many challenges they faced.

    "And ye shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine houses,  and when thou walkest by the way,  and when thou liest down,  and when thou risest up."Deuteronomy 11:19.

    Preparing for this talk has broadened my perspective about my family history and I have chosen ancestors from both sides of my family whom I have learned "pearls of wisdom" through things they said in general conversation or oral history interviews, and things I learned about them about some of them from other people or by researching their lives.