Sunday, April 2, 2017

Organizing Vital Records

New England Genealogy - Organizing Vital Records
Vital records are one of my favorite things to collect. Organizing vital records, as well as other paper records, is important if you want to be able to put your hands on something quickly. There are various methods out there and this is just one.

Mine is probably the most simple way to organize and index records. It only requires basic office supplies and word processing software. To organize my vital records, I simply used two binders and page protectors to store the certificates of birth, marriage, and death, among a few other records. The binders I use have a plastic cover on the front and back, so I can slip my indexes in as cover pages.

Organizing the Binders


1. Alphabetize all documents by surname. Women are organized by maiden name. Marriages are organized by male/husband's surname.

2. Index all documents by surname. I simply created my index in Word, using the following format:

Livingston, Mary Ann   Death   June 11, 1886   Brockton, MA
New England Genealogy - Organizing Vital Records - Index
When it comes to marriages, I list them under the male/husband's name, but I also list the wife by maiden name. Next to her name I cross-reference it back to the husband, i.e. "See Shaw, Harrison."

That's all there is to it. Volume 1 has so many records in it, that the index is two pages long, so page 1 appears on both the front and and page 2 is in the back of the binder.

In addition to birth, marriage and death records, I also include obituaries, passports, probate and estate records. This keeps all records created at a town or county level in one place and organized for easy reference.

Do you have a method of organizing paper vital records? 



Copyright (c) 2017 Wendy L. Callahan

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