Get It Together
March 9, 2000
By Liz Kelley Kerstens, CGRS
File Cabinets or Book Shelves? File Folders or Ring Binders?
When you're setting up a genealogical filing system, it's important to determine where you are going to store your documents. If you already have book shelves and filing cabinets, then you need to decide which you're going to use, and how you'll use them.
For years I've used my book shelves to house most of my document collection. I have purchased a number of 3-ring binders and lots of top-loading archival sheet protectors and had the documents stored by document type within the binders. When I started out, I had multiple document types in one binder, i.e. birth, marriage, and death records separated by tabs indicating the event. As my collection grew, many document types received their own binders, especially states where I had accumulated a lot of census records. I attached binder labels to the outside indicating the contents, such as "Michigan Censuses" or "Deaths."
Another approach to storing your documents would be to put them in hanging file folders in a file cabinet. If you're going to follow this method, I recommend that you visit your local office supply store to investigate the various types of Pendaflex® folders that may fit your needs. A few weeks back I explained why Pendaflex folders are my choice for filing (see No More Chaos!). Here are a few options that might help with larger files:
- box-bottom files that come in bottom widths of 1-4 inches (these have a cardboard insert that is placed in the bottom to make it stay open at the designated width)
- expansion hanging file pockets, which expand as you need them to and are very versatile
- hanging expandable file with nine sections containing labels from A-Z (you could put your own labels on these tabs to help separate your documents)
- hanging binder folder, a combination of a 3-hole punched capability (that won't hold many pages) and a 2 inch box-bottom (these are great for projects!)
Keep in mind that you probably don't want to buy all box-bottom folders because once you put the cardboard in the folder, the folder always maintains that width. You might only be able to fit 10-12 box-bottom folders in a typical file cabinet drawer so these are only suggested for files that become large. A better choice is the expansion files because of their flexibility. Many of the Pendaflex hanging files also come with the "Infopocket®," which is a sleeve within the folder that allows you to store small items that are usually lost in a folder.
A third option for filing documents is to use hanging ring binders, preferably in a fire-proof file cabinet. So far the only hanging ring binders I've found are made by Avery Dennison Corporation. The covers are flexible plastic, the ring size is only 1 inch, and the capacity is about 175 sheets, or about 150 documents back-to-back inside of top-loading sheet protectors. You can see the binders at Avery.com. I order them in quantity from Reliable Office Supplybecause they're hard to find in stores. Reliable's stock number is 110KM62000 and the binders come in black, royal blue, or red. I have converted all of my documents to this system because my documents are now protected within a fire-proof file cabinet, but are still easily accessible by pulling out the specific binder I need.
Next week I'll discuss the ins and outs of choosing a file cabinet.
Last Updated on Sunday, 19-May-2013 09:35:26 CDT