My Online File Organization

I have completed this task!  Nice feeling of accomplishment I must say. I have to admit, it wasn’t all that long ago that I went through this!

It was probably a little less than a couple years ago when I started my filing system. This plan seems to be working very well for me.

When I transitioned to a Mac at the beginning of this year I found that my files didn’t move over as nice and neat as I expected then to. Some files were in the system not once, or twice, but three times!

Not wanting to delete files without making sure I had a copy of everything that was in the folder, made for a daunting task that I was afraid I would never finish. Some folders had different items than the supposed matching folder while others were exact images of the duplicate folder(s).

I was gun ho to get this project done and surprised myself when I actually finished, much sooner than I expected.

I started alphabetically and moved down the list. There were many Surname folders that needed to be broken down further. I added a ton of folders to my file. I am hoping I will have a place to put everything as I get it and not have to worry about making more files for awhile. At least from now on, I would only need to add a surname folder as I find new surnames to enter in my tree.

I have been asked to share how I set up my system, so here is my outline.

I start with my main file ~

Family History File

(Main Folder that holds all of my genealogy files)

In this file I have approximately 235 files broken down by surnames, in alpha order:
Example ~ First  folder = Avery
Next folder = Bakken
                                                  Next folder = Barthle, etc. through the alphabet

Now, some of these surname files have been broken down further yet. Some families have so many people in them that it suits me better to give each child their own folder. Maybe I have a lot of information on a certain individual, they may get their own folder also.

Example ~ Harding, Alice
Harding, Bruce
Harding, Edna
Harding, Florence

Some of these broken down folders may be siblings of each other, cousins, or maybe not even in the same family (yet?). I have found I like having a folder for some females with their surname and another folder with the husband and her married name. Then I file pre marriage items in the surname folder and married items in the married couples folder. It makes for a quicker look when I want something.   

 Olson, Joseph
                                                          Olson, Mary
                                                          Olson, Nadine
      Olson, Veronica

Example ~ Nadine Olson gets married to John Hasenkamp. They would have a folder~

Hasenkamp, John & Nadine

But, Nadine still would keep her maiden name folder also. As I said though, I only do this with the ones I have a lot of information on, not all females.

And the final step ~ inside EVERY person or couples folder I have added five more folders. The folder names I entered may not be what you would want to call your folders, but you will get the idea.

Forms Charts
Vital Records

In essence, I have made my online folders very similar to my binders and how I organize them. Each of my binders is broken into categories, as now are my online files. Sometimes, I may add to an online folder for a person, such as: “Misc.” or “House” or “Personal” or whatever, when I have a lot of information on a certain individual and don’t it all listed under documents.

Because I started this a couple years ago, going through this time wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. I had the right idea with the “NAME” folders, and I had added three of the additional folders to the inside of most folders already. This time I decided I wanted 5 categories, and I needed to break out some of my lines more which probably took the longest time. And, with each new family name folder I made, I had to make those 5 folders to put inside also. Plus, I had to go through all those duplicates folders, item by item (That may actually have taken me the longest time).

A little here and a little there, it is now complete! I should be able to easily add a name folder whenever I need one, and the 5 folders to go along with it, they will always be consistent, even if I know a person may not have been in a census yet. It is routine and the same straight across the board. One day these people may be in a census, and the folder will already be there. I do not plan on changing this routine anymore, so I should be set. 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts! 

Copyright © 2012 By Cheryl Palmer All Rights Reserved


  1. You have really accomplished something. Wow. It is so easy to have random folders and files as we quickly save items to the computer.
    One suggestion I have is on your husband and wife folders that you also include the maiden name in the title. It will make it easier to connect the pre-marriage and post-marriage data for the women.

  2. Lori, that is a fabulous idea! I will go through and add them to my files. You are correct in that if you do not remember who a female ancestor married by name, it could be disaster trying to find her! Perfect solution, I am surprised I hadn't thought of that actually. I should have realized this. Thank you so much Lori!


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