Sorting Saturday – Index Cards

I don’t like to post how I organize my stuff because my methods are a little nuts. I probably make it harder than it needs to be. Tonight I’ll talk about my sorting method for my index cards. Do people even use index cards? If so probably not for this.


As you can see I have two index boxes. One for surnames A-M and the other N-Z. From there I sort them by generation from myself through the 13th back. Then they are sorted even further by alphabetizing the surnames within that generation.




For example my  A’s go like this:

Sarah Allen – 7th gen
Hannah Averill – 8th gen
Sarah Averill – 8th gen
Samuel Averill – 9th gen
John Averill – 10th gen
John Averill – 11th gen
Hannah Ayer – 12th gen

On each index card I have the full name (and married name for women), birth and death place/years, family group sheet #, and a space for the pedigree # (still haven’t started that project yet). On the front side I have any vital,census or official records listed for that person. On the back I have any unofficial sources such as family history books or newspapers.

I have a very small desk to work on and I find it much easier to use these index cards instead of having  binders full of sources cluttering my space. Most of the records I have are on the computer and until I get a printer I won’t have the need for binders anyway. When I go to the library I take my boxes and a file folder for copies and I’m all set.

As I mentioned before this is probably the worst way to sort my ancestors, but so far it’s working for me. How do you guys keep things together?



7 responses

  1. I haven’t used index cards since I first started. Once I got an online genealogy software program, the index cards went away. I do store paperwork in binders, roughly organized by branches of the family. I plan to go through them at some point this year and cut down on the unnecessary paper, and save only the correspondence or photocopies of records that are not available on line. I also have a binder that I am putting all my obituaries in and another one for all the vital records I have ordered over the years. The last two are organized alphabetically. 🙂

  2. I have just been trying to get rid of all the extra things in my house that I can. I now do all my books on a reader and all my genealogy is pretty much digital. If your system works for you and your happy with it, I think its great.


  3. Index cards. I love them. I once used them for timelines with a date & family event on one side & the source on the other. It was easy to rearrange them when I learned something new. I have slowly gotten away from them as I put more & more of my work on my laptop. But I still have a drawer full of index cards of various sizes & colors, read to go.

  4. Actually, I think it is a great idea. Like you, most of my files are online and this would make it easy to see what I have in a glance. I think I would also add some small pedigrees inserted here and there so I could remember the relationships!

  5. All my notes for any person are typed in the ‘notes’ section of my genealogy software… I don’t have any paper notes at all. If I need to see the notes for anyone, I hit “search” and type in their name, and then hit “print” and I have the notes for that person. But, to each his/her own!

  6. Whatever works. It’s a great idea.

  7. I have a box full of index cards and I had started to do exactly what you do but I also have a file folder for each person in a 4 drawer file just for genealogy so I began to think I was overdoing it a bit as I also save everything online. – Now I want to pull those index cards out again. 🙂

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