Organise Your Whakapapa

After a time you would have collected papers, photos, notes, weblinks and digital content and one day you will want to find something and spend alot of time hunting for it. There is not one system that works best so here are some ideas on how to organise your whakapapa.

First Things First – A Filing System
Before you organise anything, be it paper or digital, you need to work out what system you are going to use to file things, so that they can be easily found.  While some people file by type of document, for example all birth certificates together, and all photos together, this means if you are looking for the documents for someone you will need to look in several places.  For this reason it is best to put everything for one person in the same place, unless there are photos that are in an album, in this case you would still try and group all of the photos together.

Some places suggest that you organise your whanau groups by numbers, but using names is far easier.  If someone visits and are interested in Jack NOHI it would be easier for them to find a folder with information about him, than to first have to look up his name to find a number, then look for that number.

Organising records by whanau groups is the best way to go and also giving each group a colour. Give a different colour for each of your grandparents and all information that you find for their tupuna can go there.  For the whanau of your aunts and uncles, use the main two colours from their parents and another colour for them and their whanau.

Paper Records – Boxes, Folders, File Cabinets or Ringbinders
Depending on the amount of paper you have you could use boxes, folders, file cabinets or ring binders or a combination. Folders are easy to add to – just open the folder and drop the paper in.  Ring binders take a bit more effort as you have to open the ring binder and either use a plastic sleeve or  a hole punch before you can add in the paper. A file cabinet works best for us as there are the hanging folders and in each of those we can add papers.  While a metal filing cabinet is great, you can also get box filing cabinets. Of course, until you have alot of papers you do not really need those, instead you could find some boxes, get some coloured paper and wrap groups of records in the coloured paper.

Label each group of papers with the SURNAME in capital letters (to make it easy to spot) followed by the first name, like so
NOHI, Jack
Name sure that for all wahine you use their maiden name and not their married name.

On the front of each box / folder, print out a whanau group chart, showing who is in the folder – you could even put a coloured mark by the names to make it easier to pick out.

Photos can be collated and put into albums, according to whanau groups they can also scanned and filed digitally – see below.

If you are putting your photos into albums, make sure that you write on the back of the photo who is in the photo.  While you may know everyone in it, in 100 years time, no one may know who is in that photo.

Digital Storage
You can organise all of your digital records in much the same way. I have a main folder called whakapapa with everything else under that. Depending on the amount on information you have, you could also add sub folders under a name.  For example there could be a folder called NOHI Jack and under there a folder called photos and another one called weblinks (where all web pages with information about him has been saved).

Go through all of your folders, check in My Documents and Downloads and either copy or move everything that you find relating to the whanau that you have created new folders for, into the new folder.

If your photo is named something like dsc00234.jpg then rename the photo to the name of the person – that way it makes it easier to find later if you do a search.

Make sure you have a backup of all that is in your whakapapa folder – a pc crash could mean that you loose all of that information and is gut wrenching.  Also, if you use a whakapapa program, it may pay to print out everything every now and again, else that information could all get lost.