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. (Note: Family Roots Organizer presentation is now on CD through Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Click here to order.)
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.
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.
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.
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