The Notebook Project

If you are a regular visitor to this blog, then you know that I keep all my genealogy records online (click Family Tree above).  I decided long ago that online publishing was the right format for me and I’m still quite happy with the arrangement.  Not only do I keep all my records online, I don’t print copies.  All my records are stored on my laptop (backed up in numerous places, of course).  The only papers I keep are originals, such as death certificates or files ordered from NARA.

However, I worry sometimes about what will happen to all my research if something were to happen to me.  I don’t think anyone in my family will have the expertise or the interest to keep the website going, and I envision it disappearing as soon as the hosting contract expires.

So, I’ve decided to start “The Notebook Project.”  My plan is to start printing all my work and filing it in 3-ring binders.  I’ve resisted the idea of printing for a long time, because it’s seems like so much extra work, but I think I’ve come up with a workable plan.

First, I need to start buying 3-ring binders and page projectors.  I’m estimating that it will take 22 of the large, 3-inch binders to hold my current body of research.  I’ll have to do something different with the legal-size papers that I have (any ideas?).  They are all from various NARA files.

Second, I’m going to put instructions in the front of each notebook that the collection is to be donated to the Murray County Library.

Third, I’m not going to overwhelm myself by doing this all at once.  I intend to organize the notebooks alphabetically, by surname, so I’ll do the As and Bs this month, the Cs and Ds next month, etc.  Then next January, I’ll revisit the As and Bs to see what needs to be added and/or updated.  This way it can be an ongoing project.  The notebooks will never be in sync with my electronic records – trying to sync them up would make me crazy.

Fourth, I have to make this as easy on myself as possible.  I must use the resources of my software as it is designed (and not create extra work by getting too fancy – I started thinking this morning of using some kind of antiquey-looking paper, but I’m nipping that idea in the bud).  I also have to resist the urge to make everything perfect for each person I print; that’s another path to crazyville.  I have other projects that I’m working on (The Census Project, The Citation Project, etc.) – I have to trust that the work on those projects will clean up the records and that as I rotate back through the notebooks next year, each individual’s section will become a little more “perfect.”

As far as organization within the notebooks goes, this is what I’m thinking.

  • At the beginning of each letter, I’ll place a list of all the people whose surname starts with that letter.  This is something simple to print.  I’ll probably go back and write in the page numbers for each person after I finish with the whole letter, so this page can serve as a table of contents for the letter.  I’ll also use those pre-made alphabetical dividers.
  • Then, going alphabetically by first name, I’ll put:
    • each person’s individual page
    • 4-generation Ancestor chart
    • 4-generation Descendant register
    • any supporting documentation (i.e.birth-marriage-death certificates, census pages, photos, etc.
    • any blog articles I’ve written that refer to that person
  • Last, I may put a colored-paper divider at the end of each surname.

So, that’s The Notebook Project.  Some of these thoughts may get revised or refined as I start working on it.  This project will become a regular feature of my monthly to-do lists.

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  1. says

    Twitter: taneya
    Tonia – I like this idea very much! You may remember that I too use TNG and i wonder the same – what happens to the site when I’m done? I may see if perhaps this summer I can begin a similar effort as you – this definitely gives me something to think about. What about also burning a CD each year with your updated GEDCOM that you can export from TNG. The library that you plan to donate your materials too would likely be able to read it and generate reports from it as well? Please do continue to share as you work through this!

  2. Tonia Kendrick says

    Hi Taneya! I considered giving the library something on CD or flash drive, but I don’t want to create extra work for the librarians. I also felt like something that could be shelved would have more visibility. I’m sure that as time goes on, other electronic options will become available.

    In the meantime, I’m having fun with this. I like seeing the pages printed out. I can picture some future researcher’s delight when they turn the page and find something they didn’t know about, just as I’ve been thrilled with my own finds.

    I’ll definitely do update posts as I go on.

  3. says

    Tonia, I love the idea of printing out your blog posts to include in your binders. Thanks!

    Your website looks great! Thanks for stopping by at Before My Time–I’ve really enjoyed paying a return visit!

  4. says

    I’ve been down the same path – went totally paperless, then decided to print everything in case the Internet blows up someday. :-)

    A couple things that worked well for me:

    Burn each binder’s digitized contents to a CD and include a CD in each binder. I used self-adhesive CD envelopes on the inside front covers.

    For oversized documents, fold them or roll them loosely and put them in a 9×12 manila envelope. Three-hole-punch the envelope and include it in the binder.

    Good luck!


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