Thursday, January 30, 2014

Keeping Your Leaves in Order... File Naming

I guess you can say I am like everyone else, where I create New Year Resolution. My Resolution for Genealogy this year is organizing my files.  I like to think of myself as a Digital Genealogist. I do almost all my research from home and even if I do run to a courthouse or the library, I always convert my findings into a digital format.  However I never figured out a good file naming scheme, which makes looking at my files difficult, especially trying to sort out duplicates.  I asked and searched but couldn't find something that made sense to me. Finally I found a system that Natalie Cottrill from ProGenealogist shared in her blog Computer Tricks 3 – Naming Electronic Files, and so far it has been great.

This is Natalie's system:

 "[surname (or) maiden surname][first name][middle name][birthyear]
[date of event or date document created][event or document name]"  

It's really nice, after you put the name in, the birth year takes care of multiple generations using the same, so you shouldn't have a problem with all those John Smith's in your tree.  I use the Head of the Household to name the census which has really cleared up my census pages.

After that the computer takes care of the organizing for you.

"...they will end up automatically sorted by the operating system alphabetically by name 
and then chronologically by date of birth and then chronologically again by date of event."

It doesn't get better then that, now I just have to go and rename all my files, which is going to take some time. When its all said and done its going to be so easy to find all my files. Even now you can see the story of someones life just from the thumbnails.


  1. Your post came at the perfect time! I am trying to put real effort into organizing my genealogy this year.Thanks for the file tip it will help immensely!

    1. Well glad the timing works out. If you discover anything as you go through your files that you think would help others, please come back here an share.

  2. Eric,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in my Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you Jana for helping spread the word to others.