After a few evenings of sorting though photos, obituaries, and random family records, I finally got Grandma's genealogy binder in relative (bad pun alert!) order. The binder is HUGE and represents just my dad's father's side of the family. Grandma also researched her own family but I have yet to delve into those materials.
I'm a big believer in getting stuff organized and in this case, it was time very well spent. As I mentioned in my previous post, having a tab for each family member makes all the difference. I used the "extra wide" tabs which extend out beyond the plastic sleeves. Best invention ever! :)
My great grandfather was one of 12 children, so one of the tabs belongs to him. He in turn had seven children (my grandfather being one of them) so that particular section of the binder is the largest. I'm mainly interested in my direct lineage so it's the most important section to me.
I separated Grandpa's section into seven parts, one for him and each of his siblings. I used Post-It notes along the top to create tabs for each one so their information could be organized a little more clearly. In the process of looking through the binder, I learned that Grandpa had two siblings who passed away -- he lost an infant brother and a sister at age 8. I'm sorry I didn't know more about his family while he was alive.
I found a very handy document in Grandma's binder called a Descendancy Chart. I wish I'd known about this chart years ago! It would have helped me figure out who was who around our town and how people were related to me, something that has perplexed me throughout my life. This chart lists the patriarch of the family as "1", his children as "2", their offspring (and spouses) as "3", etc. I wish I'd found this chart earlier in my organization process because it makes it much easier to file information when you can quickly scan for a name!
I made a separate binder for the correspondence Grandma had with far-flung family members. One relative has done quite a bit of research and provided a chart which takes my great great grandma's family line back a generation to Prussia. So I now have the name and basic information about my great great great grandma and her parents.
I even found a map of where she lived! I'm anxious to connect with this gentleman on Ancestry.com and see what else has been learned. Discovering my "roots" is what interests me the most in this process.
This photo of my great great grandfather is likely the oldest one I have for this side of the family. For now, I've just tucked these photos into temporary sleeves. Obviously the newspaper articles will need to be copied as well for preservation purposes.
Although when I started this project my intent was to make some heritage scrapbooks, I'm so happy I took the time to organize Grandma's genealogy binders first. I can easily draw from this information to create meaningful scrapbooks. In the process of organizing Grandma's information, I've re-affirmed my interest in learning my family's history. I will be a good steward of Grandma's records, and I know that would make her very happy!