What do I have on My Genealogy Shelves

Part of the “process” of getting back to the basics* is to determine what I actually have on my shelves. I watched a Legacy Tree Webinar presented by Shannon Combs-Bennett on January 11, 2017 titled “Tips and Tricks to Organizing Your Genealogy” and this was one of the Tips. So I decided to take it to heart and created a plan, based on her webinar, to begin my “back to the basics” organizational plan.

One of the first tips is to Take an Inventory. So here is what I did. I hope it helps you if you are going to organize you genealogy materials. This first question to consider is to determine “What do you have?” Here is my answer.

  • Documents—type and quantity

                 Over the years, I have moved so many times, where I had to box things up and then find a new place to place it. In doing that, my filing systems have collapsed, changed, and papers are lost in boxes where I still have no idea where they are.Included in that problem is the fact that I inherited a large quantity of boxes of genealogy material from my mother, which many boxes of I have just glanced at what was in it but not dealt with it in a productive way. The current goal is to find all genealogy material that I own (or inherited) and get it into a useful organization, that can be accessed at a moment’s notice.

  • Digital items—type

                Photos—I have thousands of photos on my hard drive. Quite a few are genealogy related and a lot not. The system I have is totally inadequate, and convoluted. In addition, for whatever reason many are duplicated several times, which is a waste of space. To find a particular photo, it sometimes take me 5 to 10 minutes to find one, and sometimes I give up and have to come back later to try again. My systems must be overhauled totally.

  • Heirlooms—don’t forget to record the provenance of those heirlooms.

                 I do not have a lot, but what I do have, I need to write up a paragraph or two about the provenance, how I came to have it, and what history there is about it, and who should get it when I pass away. This also includes any keepsakes I have accumulated, especially my own keepsakes from my childhood etc.

  • Books

                 I have three kinds of genealogy related books:

                #1. Reference books, about how to do genealogy; 

                #2. Collection of books written by others, about my ancestral history, as well as family trees published or unpublished;  

                #3. Books, pamphlets, DVD’s, etc. that I have written about my family history.

* See my previous post under Swisher Research to see how  I began to implement this inventory.

Back to the Basics

So my goal this year is to go “back to the basics” in doing Swisher research. So how do you do that?

First, you have to get organized. Not just once, but again, and again, and again. That’s what I have tried to do over the years, but just never got it done. Of course we all know to do that, but it is one of the hardest “new year’s resolution” to keep.

But I did it. Here is my genealogy organization “Master Plan.”


Second, you have to find what you already have. That has been a problem for a long time, but last year it became rather frustrating. I was spending a lot of valuable time trying to find items I knew I had but couldn’t put my hands on them.

Finally I am getting my genealogy “stuff” organized. Here is a photo of part of my Genealogy Bookshelf.

This portion of my bookshelf holds approximately 90+ books, or notebooks full of genealogy items. A few are reference books, but most are notebooks that I either inherited from my mother, or created myself based on my research. (Ignore the “Microsoft Notebook Title,” I use every old notebook I can find to save buying more, & half of the bottom shelf has not been recorded and added to my document file yet.) This does not include almost two file drawers full of material yet to recorded in my documents file



Here is another photo of my inherited, oldest albums that have not yet been documented/recorded.



I have many more albums in another closet, and boxes and boxes of photos etc. still to go through.

Just thought I would share this with all of you. It’s a start!!!