Where did all this paper come from?

You have to admit that when you have been doing research on your family tree for a long time, well, you gather a lot of paper.

When my dad started his research in the mid-1950s, there was no internet.  As he traveled, the telephone book in the nightstand next to the bed was really the only way to find out if someone with your surname lived in that area.

Granted, postage was about 10% or less than today for sending a first class letter.  You did not dare call people because they did not know who you were.  A letter provided an entrance to explain who you were and what you were asking.  Even then, some people did not appreciate someone else digging into their business – never mind it might be your business also as their cousin.

When I got started in the mid-1980s, we had dial-up services like the squealing of the fax machine.  You had to cast our lots and hope you got a connection at 56,000 kbs to have good speed. And, there were limited places to research without a lot of records. Software, like Family Tree Maker, came with discs that had collections of documents, but they were often dated in the availability and often time duplicated previous releases.

I have emails from the early 1990s printed on paper, filed in a folder by surname and placed in a five-drawer vertical cabinet for storage.  Some of these files have not been looked at except to place them in boxes for moving and then returning them to the file cabinet. I do use binders based on specific surnames to keep some papers in and the number of them has grown as the tree has spread.

Besides that, I now save information to PDF and store it in the digital world. And, yes there is duplication of files with different file names as I have tried to standardize my system. I have segregated folders online and on computer hard drives that have data files in them – often with duplication of images with different filenames.

All this to say that things tend to get messy doing research.  Maybe it is time to organize things.  That is good to say in the first two weeks of the new year, but what about the other fifty weeks.  Habits become ground in by routine and repeating important steps.