Family History Binder – Part 6 – Documents

This is the sixth and final post of my Family History Binder series. Click here to go back to part one.

In each section of my binder, I placed copies of every document I had about each individual in chronological order. If a document referred to multiple ancestors, I printed a separate copy for each of them. I didn’t use any original documents, but I still wanted to make the copies last as long as possible so I used Avery sheet protectors that are archival quality. Here are some of the types of documents I included:

  • Birth/death/marriage certificates
  • City directories
  • Military draft records
  • Yearbook pages
  • Land records
  • Cemetery records

Most of my sources were obtained on and For any online documents, I printed the image of the document and then also printed the transcription page from the website with the source information. I placed the transcription page behind each document in the same sheet protector.

I wanted to be able to easily find the individual’s name in each document, so I highlighted the corresponding line in the document with a yellow highlighter. This is especially helpful in census records or city directories that contain many names. Before highlighting, I made sure I let the ink dry for at least 30 minutes or else the ink smeared.

I don’t personally have any original documents for this line of the family, but I was able to obtain quite a few copies just from asking relatives. My in-laws have a cardboard box of various family records that I was able to borrow and scan into my computer using an Epson WorkForce Scanner. I love how quickly I was able to scan stacks of documents while still having high resolutions for photos.

Facebook also proved quite helpful in obtaining records and photos. I received a few items by simply asking our Reynolds Family Facebook group. I also came across the Buffum Family Association group (my husband’s great-grandmother was a Buffum) and asked if anyone had information about our particular line. The next day I was sent over a dozen old photos of ancestors, most of which I had never seen pictures of before.

As my research has continued, I have already found several new sources that I will add to my binder. I hope to make similar binders for all of my other family lines and will post updates here on my blog as my work progresses, along with other research tips.


17 thoughts on “Family History Binder – Part 6 – Documents

  1. Argle West January 11, 2017 / 1:24 am

    Thank you for sharing. I have enjoyed this series.


  2. Avalon January 11, 2017 / 1:30 am

    Many thanks for sharing….enjoyed following your Family History Binder


  3. Deborah Polley-Pflumm January 11, 2017 / 1:46 am

    As much as I love my Mac, I still need to actually feel the pages. I like to keep copies of everything as well. (What is the power should go out?). LOL. Your binder is neat and tidy just how I like it. Great job.


  4. Sandie January 11, 2017 / 3:09 am

    Thank you so very much for sharing all your work! You did a wonderful job and I’m inspired to “do as your doing” – Thank you for listing your supplies. Have already ordered them! This is like a shot in the arm to get going again!!


  5. Myrl January 11, 2017 / 4:48 am

    Thank you so much for sharing. I really needed the help and inspiration to get organised with sorting out my pile of records. I have been following your blogs and have partly completed one binder which I intend to finish to give to my father in law for his 90th birthday next month.


  6. Nan Bailey January 11, 2017 / 5:15 am

    This has been a great series of posts and it really gets me motivsted. Thanks so much for sharing.


  7. Meredith M. January 11, 2017 / 6:53 am

    Wow!!! This is absolutely wonderful! I am doing a thorough “go-over” of my tree and I would love to do one of these for each of my grandparents, perhaps for next Christmas. It would give me a definite goal to work toward.


  8. Jenny MacKay January 11, 2017 / 1:59 pm

    You’ve really inspired me to put my family files together and stop researching. I think we all tend to just keep searching and forget to do something with what we find or already have. Thank you.


  9. Linda Miers January 11, 2017 / 11:01 pm

    Thanks you so much for sharing your work with us! I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed it and how much it has prompted me to do as you’ve done. I write a newsletter for my hometown Genealogy Society and shared your link with the members in the current edition. I’ve ordered the supplies and look forward to getting started ASAP! Just the ideas I needed.


  10. Susan Oliver January 16, 2017 / 2:46 am

    Hi Jess.Can I ask when you add each generation into the binder which is numbered 1 to 15 for the 4 generations are you adding after each one the children from each marriage which is a family group record and includes there births ,marriages and deaths,or are you only adding a report for that first person of that generation and any other documents such as census ,death, marriage,ceritficates for each one of the 15.If so where wili the family of each be added.I hope this makes some sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jessaroni January 16, 2017 / 2:51 am

      I only did the documents for the 15 individuals. There is a family group sheet with just birth, marriage, and death dates for their children but that’s as far as I go with them. I have all of those cousins in my digital trees on ancestry and facebook but I don’t have the money or space to print and store all of their documents.


      • Susan Oliver January 16, 2017 / 6:49 am

        Thanks Jess I think that is what I mean so for each child of that is born to the person say number 2 my dad I can put a family group record and then for my other 4 siblings one for each of them which has their marriage and children and so on for each of the 15 lines.


  11. Linda Davis January 17, 2017 / 7:48 am

    I have really gotten a lot of help from your binder ideas. I have a question about documents. I have some individuals, direct line, that I have so many documents, that the file cabinet folder is actually 3 inches thick for one. Not many are like this but there are a lot that are at least a half inch to an inch thick. Do I just make a volume 2 and vol 3 for that particular surname?


    • jessaroni January 17, 2017 / 7:53 am

      Yes I would definitely recommend dividing it up if it gets that big. Mine just barely all fits in the 3-inch binder. If I add more pages later I’ll buy another binder and divide it in half. Make sure to print another copy of your pedigree to put at the beginning of the second binder so you have that to refer back to.


  12. Peter Violette January 21, 2017 / 6:19 am

    I keep binders on each different line of my family. But I don’t give the binders out, I used the information in the binders to create a Family History Book, and many of the items in the binder, end up in the book. I have a binder on each line of my family. The binders help keep me organized and focused, also I write notes all over everything in the binder, and refer back to my notes when I start writing. I also keep electronic folders on my computer containing everything in the binder, and much more, all in an electronic format (documents, pdf’s of books, photos, etc). In 2015 I was introduced to Createspace, and I have used it to self publish a Family History Book (working on second). In the end, the copies I gave out to family members, where cheaper then if I had copies made at Staples, and the Createspace service itself is FREE (you will have to pay for proof copies, mine was about $16). The end result looked amazing, everyone loved them and it created a lasting record of all the research I did (by the way it is still available on Amazon if you want to take a look, search “Violette Family Book”).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Margo Malcheski April 3, 2017 / 2:51 pm

    thanks so much for sharing all of your work; however, some links-example to #3 -are broken


    • jessaroni April 3, 2017 / 11:17 pm

      Thanks for letting me know! It looks like those websites deleted the blank pedigree charts I was linking to. I’ll try to find replacements and fix the links as soon as I can.


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