Friday, March 25, 2011

Sorting Saturday - I've GOT to get organized - week 2

  Since my first post last week, I've made a good start. As far as getting my research notes in the right folders, I'm into the C's.
  That's the good news.
  But I ran into a serious bit of bad news when I hit the Brockway family folders. I have a lot of those, mostly from the days before computers, before my List of Sources Searched (LSS) database.

  Most of my Brockway notes were numbered. Unfortunately, those numbers and research note references did not appear in the LSS.
  I couldn't believe it. How did that happen?
  Undoubtedly, these notes were from the days before computers. Logically, they were entered on my paper LSS. Where those sheets are, I have no idea. I've moved twice since these notes were created and the last move was a real house cleaner.

  The only recourse was to scratch out the numbers and leave them as uncatalogued. Since then I've found other folders with similar numbered notes not in the LSS.
  Yesterday when I was doing my volunteer bit at the Kentucky Historical Society library, I asked the director if they had a written policy on what they will accept in the way of vertical files. They do. You can get a copy by emailing the library's reference desk
  Rule No. 1 got my attention right away
"All information must contain cited sources (citation can be on the document, or in a bibliography, or enough information provided to locate the cited source."
  The rule goes on, but you get the idea. And so did I.
  I think I've been pretty good in the last 20 years in recording enough information about where I got the research note to create a solid bibliographical reference. I don't put anything into my RoosMagic without a good source citation. But the 25 years before that time, . . . well . . . hmmmm . . . maybe not so.
  If a research note was a book or a microfilm, I probably have enough information to recreate the citation through WorldCat or the FamilySearch library catalog. Notes taken in courthouses will be more difficult. Notes left to me by my mother will be very difficult.
  I resolve: If I can't be absolutely certain about the citation information, the notes go in the trash! They are of no value to me or to anyone else!

  I've decided: Now is the time to do that work. No sense shuffling the research notes once into properly colored folders and then coming back, maybe months from now or never, and shuffling them again into the LSS and different colored folders.
  This makes the job much more time consuming but more valuable over the long term.
  Wish me luck!


  1. What a massive undertaking! I would agree, though, if you can not trace where the note came from then it is really not worth keeping. It will only confuse your progress. I did not realize that there were policies on what would be accepted for vertical files, although it makes perfect sense. Guess I really need to buckle down on my source citations. On a side note, I was researching on the KHS website today!

  2. I'm new at this so it terrifies me to throw away anything. For something with out reliable documentation, I drop it into a "Clues" folder for each surname. If I later find a source that can prove or refute the info in the note, then I can toss the note. I do most of my notes digitally so at least it doesn't create masses of paper.

  3. The clues folder idea is an excellent one. If I could just find folders in another color, like hot pink.

  4. May I suggest NOT throwing out the notes? I've had exactly your experience but sometimes the notes gave me ideas months the clues folder sounds like a good compromise IMHO. Good luck!

  5. Yes, after slogging my way through the Boggess folders, I'm convinced I shouldn't throw those unsourced notes away. I found a will for my wife's ancestor in the folders, both with what appears to be the microfilm printout and a transcription. But no source. My guess is it came from an LDS microfilm. I'll just have to order it and confirm it. Since I'm entering all sources in my LSS now, the manila colored folders are available to house the "clues." Thanks for all your help!