If you don’t remember anything else please remember this: ALWAYS LABEL EVERYTHING. As you progress with your family research you will come across documentation from various sources. You will also either find physical photos or find some online that you will want to use. If you are doing your tree online you will want to scan in your photos and documents. Regardless of how you store these you should always label them with the persons’ name and any other information you may have when you first save them. This is a time saver. I just spent an entire day going through my downloaded files on my computer because I had neglected to label them as I found and saved them. I came up with a labeling abbreviating system a few years ago. I try to put the name on the file along with the corresponding letters so I know, at a glance, who it belongs to and what type of file it is. I tend to get excited when I find new information or pictures so sometimes I just forget to label them. Sometimes I find so much information and I save so much at a time I get tired of labeling. So a lot of them didn’t have names on them. I had to go back and make sure of the name and put the correct abbreviation on each file. I had hundreds of them. If I had done it right the first time, I could have saved time and a lot of trouble. Even if you don’t have your documents on a computer it is essential that you label them so you can find them faster.
Here are the abbreviations I came up with.
Pictures: Douglas Hughes PIC
Headstones: Douglas Hughes HS
Marriage Licenses: Douglas Hughes ML
Death Certificates: Douglas Hughes DC
Birth Certificates: Douglas Hughes BC
Census: Douglas Hughes CR (Census Record)
Immigration: Douglas Hughes IM
Revolutionary War: Douglas Hughes RW
Civil War: Douglas Hughes CW
Military Records: Douglas Hughes MR
Tax Lists: Douglas Hughes TL
Land Grants: Douglas Hughes LG
You get the picture. I realize these are very simple but they work for me. You can use something similar or develop your own. Just make them easy to remember and so you can identify them at a glance. This way you do not have to spend time opening each document or picture to verify what or who is in it. Like I said, it is sometimes overwhelming when you discover a large amount of new information and you want to either scan it in or save it quickly. Labeling them may seem like a waste of time at this point but if you put it off, then when you need them you will take even more time searching for them and even more time searching through each one to label them correctly.
If you use folders, binders or an accordion file to store your printed documents be sure to label them as well. This way you don’t have to look through a lot of paper searching for a particular one.
Excerpt from my book: Your Family History: Doing It Right The First Time http://tinyurl.com/lua7ojt