So as many of you know, I have already made a video on Youtube specifically describing the uses of a research binder. (Find the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdYrTedddkw).
So the first thing you want to do is figure out how you are going to store and organize it. What I suggest is using a 3 ring binder. From there you can use dividers to make it nice and neat. Or you could use a filing cabinet and various file folders to keep it organized, but I don’t suggest that because the papers can fall out rather easily. (Trust me, in the heat of the moment when you are on a hot search, you are not going to want to waste time neatly searching through things…or atleast I don’t!). You could even keep it on the computer if you are really computer savy – although this is not very effective for going on research trips.
So what you have established the means of storage and basic idea with organization, you can begin to either collect things to put in the binder and/or create categories to organize the information you have. In other words, take a step back and try to figure out a logical way to organize all the stuff you have.
For example, I have a lot of how-to articles in my research binder because I love to reference them and refresh my memory every once in a while. But because I have so many, I don’t like to put them only under the category of “how-to”. Instead I have “How-to Organize”, “How-to Cite Sources”, “How-to use Legacy V.7″…and various other ones. By breaking down a large category even further, you can more easily find the information you are looking for.
A lot of people break their research binders into categories based on location or a specific type of record. For example, I have a TON of relatives from eastern Tennessee, which has gone through a lot of boundary changes over the years. So what I have is “General [insert state here]“. In there, I have the research guides that FamilySearch provides because those are always a good stepping stone. Then I have seperate sections that are all about a specific county like “Carter Co., TN [insert dates here]” or “Washington Co., NC [insert dates here]“.
Another great idea is to have a section based on where to order records. I have a huge list of the major archives I send for and it lists the cost of the record, the address, and the name of the archive. It is an easy way to figure out how much it’ll cost to get what you need and where to send your request.
I also have a section just for people that are researching the same lines or are historians for the area. I call this section “Cousins/Genealogy Buddies”. I go to these people when I just need someone else’s advice or when I want to get some more detailed information on a area.
As for good places to go to get information to put into your research binder, here are some links:
1.) This article includes a lot of the useful informationt that is based on the mistakes that a lot of genealogists make. It is a a great resource to make sure you don’t take these wrong turns! http://www.ancestry.com/learn/library/article.aspx?article=854&cj=1&o_xid=0001029688&o_lid=0001029688
2.) This one just has a lot of genealogically helpful articles and links. So check this one out, and use the ones you like. http://www.genealogybranches.com/
3.) I love this one because it gives you the links to a lot of great genealogy articles posted all over the net – no more searching for you: http://www.knowledgehound.com/topics/genealog.htm
4.) This guy is really very kind and has a lot of useful information on his site. So check him out. http://amberskyline.com/treasuremaps/
5.) This one is just stockpiled with useful information. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gentutor/tips.html
6.) This one, while rather plain looking, has some pretty cool articles; like 101 Ways To Research Your Family History for Free! http://genealogy.about.com/