As I described in my last post, my filing system is based on record types and it has served me well. Give me the source citation for any document I hold, and I can put my hands on it in 30 seconds, easily. So why consider changing to some variation of a surname based system?
My system works well when I want to look at a birth certificate and I know the year of birth, or my database is open to quickly check. It doesn't work so well when I can't remember the year of birth. Not that looking up the details on my database is difficult, but it's an extra step to take.
More annoying are the times when I want to compare multiple documents, or even look at all documents, for an individual. While I can find each document easily, it takes a little longer to pull out a collection of documents and then of course I have to file them all in the right places afterwards.
In short, I rather like the idea of grabbing one (or a few, depending on the system I settle on) files and being able to see all the documents relating to whoever I'm focusing on at the time.
The other factor influencing me is discussions on some of the blogs and web sites I have seen recently. Early on in my genealogy life I tried a surname based system, with families filed according to ahnen number. I think it was the system suggested by whatever how-to book I was reading at the time. It didn't work for me. I didn't 'get' filing by surname. While there is no particular 'Aha!' moment I can identify, the combined effect of the descriptions of systems I've read has been the same. I am starting to see ways that maybe, just maybe, it could work for me.
Pages that have sparked ideas for me include (in no particular order):
- Bobby Family Tree
- Lisa Louise Cooke 'Family History' podcast
- Elyse Doerflinger on YouTube
- Dear Myrtle - "Finally Get Organized: Jan 2009 checklist"
- Find Your Folks - "Color genealogy filing system"
- Legacy News - "Organization"
Changing your filing system is a big commitment. I'll let you know if I make the jump!