Click to See How to Organize
Finding an organizational system for your family history documents is an important process to master. There's nothing more frustrating than to know that you have that birth certificate "somewhere" but can't find it..
You will need to decide whether you want to store them all as PAPER documents, or as DIGITAL documents. The definite advantage to storing documents digitally is that they can easily be shared with others. They are also kept safe from physical harm or loss, as long as you are following the "3-2-1 Backup Strategies" to preserve them.
But how do you organize all those files so they can be easily found? Storing them on a computer in a disorganized fashion can also create a frustrating situation when you can not find them. Explore some options by clicking on the file folder to the right.
A document scanner can be a great solution for preserving those old paper documents. Converted to a digital format, the documents can easily be shared with others, as well as posted onto family history sites, and stored on cloud drives. Document scanners can scan single or double sided documents at upwards of 30 pages per minute. They can scan ALL the pages into a SINGLE file called a "Portable Document Format" file, also known as PDF.
What about those old documents that are too fragile to go through a document scanner? There are two options to get these scanned.
#1) There are scanner "carrier sleeves" that protect the document as it is being fed through the document scanner. These work quite well
#2) A flatbed scanner can also work quite well, but will result in multiple single pages that will require some software to put all the single images into a single PDF file. There are actually free online PDF creators that can be used for this. The two below are just a couple of the many that are out there to use.
All you need to do is to drag the images onto the webpage upload area, and then click on their upload button. Once the process is completed, you download your completed PDF file from the website. Your file typically downloads to your "Downloads" folder.
There is a maximum file size of 15 mb for uploading to Family Tree. Large PDF file sizes are easy to create, especially if you have scanned you documents at too high of a resolution, or if you have many "image" files inserted into the document.
Don't worry, there are some easy solutions for these large file sizes that will shrink the file size down easily. Some free online options are noted below:
Now that your documents are scanned, you can toss them, right? If they are very old letters, like some that I have from the early 1800s, I would definitely save them. There is just something about actually looking at a very old letter, newspaper page, etc of your ancestors. Other more recent letters and such, you might consider handing them on to other interested family members. You definitely can't keep and store everything. Most homes are not set up to be the National Library of Congress.
Remember that your digital files are only good as long as they are backed up and securely stored. Are you using strong backup strategies to keep those digital files safe.
How do you store them? We'll talk more about that later.