Organizing Digital Genealogy Research Materials

Organizing Digital Research Materials

Be Aware of Changing Technologies! Keep in mind that technology can change and your data can become obsolete. They call it the digital Dark Age. Do you have photos on old floppy disks that are no longer supported? I guess the message here, is to make sure you keep up with current technology. Transfer your old data into new mediums and formats as they change.  I have my photo’s on my hard drive, which I have a backup system for. With larger drives becoming more cost effective, this works for me. When I upgrade my systems, my photo’s are moved over.

Pick a File Naming Convention and Stick With It! Thomas MacEntee (GeneaBloggers) uses last name-firstname-middlename-birthyear-document name.   For documents, this works pretty well.  I have all my “Ancestors”  in a file called “Ancestors” with folders of their last names. 

For my older photo’s that I’ve digitized, I tended to put the names of the people in the picture in the order they are in, date if known, place if known. I think my naming convention works for me. I file them into folders of the family (last name). Since I use Adobe Lightroom for editing my photo’s, I can also do a search by name.

My personal pictures (my lifetime) folder is organized by year and within that folder by month.  If it’s for a trip, I’ll use Year Month – place traveled to in a directory within that year. Due to the excessive number of photos I take, I have not taken the time to identify people in the pictures.  That is a future project for me.

Let’s talk MetaData!

Digital files are just that, they are digital. Most of them already come with some MetaData.  You can easily edit the MetaData.  

To easily add MetaData to documents in Windows:

  • right click on the document in the file manager
  • click on Properties
  • click on the display tab
  • you can edit many fields, add fields, etc.


To easily add MetaData to iMac:

  • Click on the document in the Finder
  • Click on Command I
  • Add your MetaData in the comments field.

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