At first, when I read this prompt, my thought was, “Nope. Got nothing.”
And, then I decided to see what I could dig up, based on interesting finds for other prompts I almost dismissed.
But, first, a slight digression, which does play into the scenario, I promise.
Back several weeks ago, I went to Utah to attend RootsTech. One of the sessions I attended was given by Diana Elder of Family Locket. (If you remember, I won the RootsTech pass on a giveaway through her blog.)
Diana gave an excellent presentation on why and how to organize your genealogy files, both physical and digital. You can find her presentation slides and notes here. I highly recommend you taking a look.
Diana’s digital file-naming system was the most helpful thing I learned during her class. Oh, yes, I thought I had a good, consistent naming protocol. I mean, I had all the vital information there, right? But, I was fooling myself. Trust me, her system is so much better. And, I will tell you why.
I had been naming files something like this:
Sometimes, it looked more like this:
diamond-sarah-1764-birth-marblehead vital records-vol 1.jpg
Or even this:
Do you see the problems? The inconsistencies? No wonder I had trouble finding stuff.
Diana’s suggestion was to name files like this:
date-document type-last name-first name (and maiden)-place
She explained that if your folder was correctly named, i.e. GARD-jeremiah-BROWN-experience, the name of the individual really wasn’t the most important part of the file name. It’s there in the folder structure, so it doesn’t have to be the first item in the individual file name.
But, what will be important is the date the document or photo was created and the document type. So when you are searching through your files, all the files with this file naming protocol will be neatly in chronological order, making a nice, clear, concise timeline for your ancestor, right there in your folder. Ta-da!
So, for the files above, I have renamed them like this:
- 1810-will pg3-GARD-jeremiah-union township PA.jpg
- 1750-51-marriage-CLAFLIN-timothy-GOULD-mary-lynn MA.jpg
- 1764-birth marblehead vital records-vol 1-DIAMOND-sarah-marblehead MA.jpg
I have already experienced the ease of finding a document when using this system.
Here’s a screenshot of one of my folders before I have renamed the enclosed files:
Now, here’s a folder that I have worked on:
I have already found that I had duplicates of many documents, especially census records. When looking in a folder with my prior system, there was no easy way to tell if I had all or any census pages. Now, I can easily search, because records are in chronological order, and quickly see that yes, I have 1850, but not 1830 or 1840, for example. No more multiple downloads of 1850!
All that to say, it was difficult to find a tax record in the jumble of files in my folders! I think I’ll have an easier time from now on, or I will have, once I finish this BIG project. I will be able to easily search for the document type right after the date in the file name.
So, do you want to see what I found?
This is not exactly a tax record, but rather an assessment for a possible future tax liability. My DAR patriot is Jeremiah Gard, who moved west from New Jersey to settle in the frontier of Pennsylvania, in Union Township.
This document is the “Particular list of description of all lands, lots, buildings, and wharves, owned, possessed, or occupied on the first day of October, 1798, in Union Township, Fayette County…”
Jeremiah Gard is number 64 on this page, the third and fourth lines from the top. He owned two lots, but occupied only one. On the occupied lot, he had one “cabbin” worth $8.00, one sawmill, and one “old log barn.” This land and lots subject to valuation were a total of 260 acres and 80 “perches.” The total valuation of “tract, lot wharf, and etc.” was $2088.00. The unoccupied lot was valued at $40.00.
Not bad, Jeremiah!
‘Til next time!