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I Take My Turn Offering a Norwegian Genealogy Class

Last weekend I led a discussion for our Sons of Norway genealogy study group. Earlier this year, we had a planning meeting to schedule topics for the months ahead, and I drew April. This approach frees up our leader, my own husband/tech advisor, to work on other things. No one must do too much if we each take responsibility for an occasional program.

My topic was organizing genealogical research. I am no expert at this, as you would see if you peeked into my office. I thought about it awhile, and I realized I could not do a formal presentation on this subject. I have no expertise to offer.

Instead, I decided to lead a discussion where all participants could share what they know. We could learn from one another and take away any good tips offered.

I did some background research and located a couple of books on organizing your genealogy research. From these, I prepared an outline to guide the discussion. I made copies to distribute to everyone who attended.

I was pleasantly surprised when ten people gathered for our meeting. This is more than we have had in a long time. We even had a couple of visitors.

We had a lively discussion with most people confessing that their records could use better organization. We were all reassured to learn that no best way to organize exists. Systems used by the group members included paper systems in file folders and notebooks, spreadsheets, and digitized records. Most everyone uses a genealogy software program to keep track of family groups. We talked about the pros and cons of each system for filing documents and maintaining research calendars.

I circulated the reference books and copies of some paper organizational helps like family group sheets and research logs. I also showed the notebook I keep on my Norwegian ancestors and explained how I have it organized.

The best tip I gleaned from this meeting was that I do not have to take the time to reorganize everything I have collected. If I want a new system, say a digital one, I can begin with materials I am using for my research today. Once I identify a consistent file-naming system, I can then go back and scan older items as I refer to them. Eventually, it will all get done without me trying to do it all at once.

I think we had a very successful genealogy session. Several people in the group had requested this topic, and the discussion format seemed well-received. A wise genealogist told me once that if you offer a good program, they will come.

In case anyone is interested, we looked at these books on genealogy organization, both available at my local library:

  1. Smith, Drew. Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher
  2. Scott, Kerry. How to Use Evernote for Genealogy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Organize your Research and Boost your Genealogy Productivity

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