Organization: The Key to Successful Research

Teri E. Flack
Apr 9, 2021
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Speaker's Introduction
1m 37s
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7m 18s
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Identify All Materials
2m 24s
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Determine File Structure
5m 48s
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Naming Files
17m 13s
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Create a Finding Aid
11m 24s
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Announcements / prizes
1m 14s
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Questions / answers
2m 44s

About this webinar

The more we research, the more records, documents, photos, and other materials we acquire. And, to solve our thorniest problems we must research beyond our immediate family using the FAN principle; so, we collect records for people who are not related directly to the family. For our research to be successful, we need to organize all these materials in a manner that facilitates our research, enabling us to find a record easily and to associate the record with the appropriate group.

About the speaker

About the speaker

Teri E. Flack, M.A. (Public History), M.B.A., began her family history quest over 50 years ago when she asked her paternal grandmother to tell her everything she knew about the Flacks and Fenleys. Although she had to be content with researching in
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  1. MH
    Melissa Hvidsten
    12 months ago

    I’ve been looking for exactly this solution, without knowing what it looks like, for several years now. The body of my research has completely outgrown my old organizational methods. I’m SO glad I found this webinar. This is timely and exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thanks so much!

  2. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    (These just keep getting better and better…) Spectacular job by Teri!!! Cannot thank her enough. She was approachable, clear, explained everything logically and comprehensibly, and made us feel as though we could actually tackle this daunting project of organization that I’ve been putting off for years. Hope there will be a follow-up webinar! And looking forward to watching through a 2nd time on video. Thanks so much!!!


    A lot of great information which was presented visually to better underline hoe to do it. One of the best webinars in the series!

    A wealth of information. I wish she was the door prize

    absolutely fabulous!! best so far!!!

    Ah, Teri’s Texas and South Carolina drawls brought me right back home to all my southern roots too. this was a great presentation even though way too short to fully give us new-comers all the details we need to understand everything!

    Teri gave a great presentation and I took a lot of notes! Thank you!

    always good to hear someone else’s ideas for organization. She brought several piles of papers to mind that I had forgotten about 🙂

    Amazing! need to let it sink in. I think I need to fine tune what I have been doing!

    Another excellent presentation. Thank you.

    Another great one! LOVE the detail!!! I have worked out my structure, i think, but what all to put in the titles…. hmm, is a continuing evolution. The Finder Aide…just brilliant!

    Appreciate this so much – how to organize in a way that makes sense to your own process! Thank you!

    Appreciated the strategies and examples. Thanks!

    Best presentation I have attended. Took it slow, was detailed, excellent examples.

    Boy do I have work to do but great suggestions.

    Can you get me 26-hours-days for re-organizing all my stuff!?! Thank you, Teri! It was worth it staying awake (It is Midnight in Austria, where I live!)

    Can’t wait to start organizing! She gave a great presentation!

    Clear and easy to follow presentation. Thank you

    Clear, concise information. Wish I had known this when I first began researching!

    Complicated in 45 minutes but logical, and stimulated ideas for personal organization. Very helpful

    Comprehensive information and syllabus.

    could have had double the time

    Could not get sound.

    Different way of doing things really makes me think.

    Different way of Organizing. Nice! Thank you.

    Difficult topic – probably needed more time to explain her systems

  3. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Easy to understand with excellent handouts! Thanks for all the ideas!!

    Enjoyed the presentation. A lot to think about. But her version of naming digital files is simply too long and too much work for me. But to each her/his own. Thank you so much.

    Enjoyed this very much. Organization isn’t one of my better skills. So glad examples were given that made sense

    Every genealogy/family history researcher should see this first! Top-notch, well-presented, well-organized. I started revising my filing a while back and actually inched my way to a similar system- but I see a lot of things that will be easy fixes to make it better. Thanks so much

    Excel for genealogy is a needed course.



    Excellent – a reminder that time invested in planning a simple method of filing will pay dividends – and lower blood pressure!

    excellent and helpful

    Excellent discussion of types / classifications of records we all accumulate. For me working on a desk PC Microsoft 7 ~ file name length is critical. Researchers would have to be quite confident in how their computer files before they begin this method. I learned the hard way! Speaker was wonderful ~ could tell she enjoyed talking about this system.

    Excellent examples to illustrate her organization strategy. Thank you!

    excellent info

    Excellent methodology, presented with enough details on one implementation to understand how to make it work practically but also enough explanations on the principles to allow people to adapt it to their own giant amorphous mass of research materials…

    Excellent organization tips – I always need more of them!! thank you

    excellent presentation

    Excellent presentation

    Excellent presentation – full of information

    Excellent presentation learned a lot but realised I had similar ideas

    Excellent presentation to motivate me to get my organization cleaned up and done. If I die tomorrow it will be a nightmare legacy. Thank you Teri – great ideas and process will get easier = great information. Fantastic Webinar.

    Excellent presentation! Wonderful detailed handout, didn’t need to take notes! Thank you! : )

    Excellent presentation.

    Excellent presentation. Speaker was knowledgeable and easy to listen to.

    excellent slides to illustrate her technique – maybe this will actually work for me!

    Excellent! Concrete guidelines and examples of an archival system. Thank you!


    Excellent. Can she come and do mine!!!?

    Excellent. Need a follow up as Marian suggested

    Fabulous presentation.


    fascinating approach to organization, need more detail

    For me, I would have benefitted from less Naming explanation and more Finding Aid organization–the latter felt rushed and complicated. I appreciate Teri’s pointing out that you really have to think about what works for you before you set up a system. Especially I’m relieved I don’t HAVE to move everything, just index it all.

    Good explanations and diagrams. Thanks.

    Good ideas but not sure I will ever find the time and stamina to do it.

    Good info

    Good information.

    Good organization presentation. Well structured system- I picked out some ideas that I plan to use.

    Good tips for helping with my organization


  4. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Great approach. Not trying to push one method on us, but showing what her method accomplishes.

    Great ideas I hadn’t considered for digital file organization.

    Great ideas, thanks for sharing. Now I need motivation…

    great if you have lots to organize.

    Great info. With almost 60 years of research I doubt I can ever be that organized. At least I know how to start. Very good presentation.

    Great info. Would like to see her do examples while showing where info came from I guess dropped down to beginner level

    great information on how to organize

    Great job, Terri. Lots of information and I’ll certainly be trying to organise my files better.

    great organizing suggestions! especially the finding aid idea

    Great presentation! I’m looking forward to listening to it again!

    Great presentation, alot to take in. Will go back to review next week

    Great presentation. I loved her organization philosophy

    great presentation. Very organized and precise syllabus

    Great reminder that I need to organize my research.

    Great tips!

    Great to realize I can go back and restart my organization at my free times and not have to stop all research to get reorganozed first! Great talk!

    Great to see a full organizational plan — made good sense. Pace was good. Thank you.

    GREAT! Inspirational and challenging!

    Great! Definitely some good things to think about and implement. Thank you!

    Great!! Encouraging me to redo my old files–very helpful

    great. i needed tis information as i have my research every well. thanks

    Hard to understand. Could use more examples.

    Her method of organization is very detailed – probably too detailed / too many layers for most people who aren’t professionals. I did enjoy her style of presentation, just found the content not applicable to my research.

    I already went through and reorganized my documents and folders — now I am excited about making an Index!

    I can’t wait to get the handout. I think I can do this! Thank you so much

    i enjoyed hearing about her filing system, naming structures, etc

    I enjoyed this lecture very much. Like sitting across the table with Teri. There was so much I will be listening to this again. Thank you Teri.

    I found it a little confusing and laborous but it also had many good points.

    I found that the presenter got so complicated with her family and it was hard to follow

    I found this a bit hard to follow, was unsure when speaker was talking about digital or non-digital files.

    I found this webinar has so much information for organizing. I am planning on working on a Do-Over this year, and this webinar will be very helpful. Thank you!

    I got some great ideas about organization and I’m a little fuzzy on other points but it will probably become clearer to me as I work through my files. Good job!

    I guess difficult to make interesting! I understand of course it would be more palatable if I were a member who can get the handout!

    I have another project. Thank you

  5. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    I have to go through this again. So much material. Very inspiring

    I learned some ways to approach my organization.

    I liked her insight in doing this with the families that she wasn’t sure about how they fit together completely to keep it separate. still feel over whelmed even in setting up a system from so many ways to choose from
    I look forward to reviewing again later. I was concerned with the file length as when I moved or copied items I had a problem.

    I love hearing how different people organize their mounds of stuff. The finding aid was a new idea for me.

    I love the time she took to explain why she did things the way she did it while emphasizing the importance of doing what works best for you. Excellent presentation.

    I need more time! Yes a follow up webinar.

    I needed more breakdown of steps and applications,. More understanding of pro and cons of different approaches , where are the landmines. Where to start when you already deeply under piles. what are baby steps to get organized without a stop work order. I have projects in play and that need to moving on. Answer how I can dovetail and make progress in both area

    I needed that!

    I really liked Teri’s method for naming and organizing all her digital and physical documents. Looking forward to a follow-up where Teri can answer more questions. Awesome webinar!

    I should have seen this presentation years ago. The BEST presentation on organization I have seen!

    I SOOOO need to get organized. I keep thinking Preach, Teri, Preach!

    I Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I thought I had my stuff organized, but I gained some new ideas for organizing items that I’m not sure whether or not they belong to my family. Thank you.

    I will attempt using the presenter’s plan. Not sure if I have the stamina, but appreciated her sharing her plan.

    In my own research I ended up with the file organization similar to this presentation. I wish I had seen this before I started my research.


    Interesting but sometimes a bit confusing – perhaps because its a subject which needs more time

    Interesting, But needed more time in order to understand.

    Interesting, perfect length of time to discuss enough detail & to not be overwhelmed!

    It gave me food for thought!

    It is wonderful to learn how others organize their research

    It seems very complicated and too much work especially if you are not a beginner and have already a lot of information

    It was far too detailed and not geared toward the non-professional geneaologist. For us newbies, just trying to organize our recently found and ever growing family records, we need something geared more towards starting out.

    Its nice to know that people are organized. I have already found an organization tool that works for me but Teri is right you need to find what works for you otherwise you never know where anything is.. Just because you think you have everything doesn’t mean you do so its nice if you know where the person is so you can stuff that is extra to the info you have already. Thanks for a great webinar.

    Just what I needed — My computer files definitely needed this. Clear, concise, and will be well worth listening to again to help me sort things out.

    Lerned a lot I’m going to lengthen my file names

    Looks too complicated and wouldn’t work for the way I research but it was interesting and something to think about.

  6. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Lots of great ideas!

    Lots of information to absorb in 45 minutes.

    Lots of information. Basic principles can be applied to individual needs or work style. Another will need to watch again as there was so much info in such a short period of time. Thanks.

    Love everything Teri does!

    Love, love, love the idea of the index (finding aid)! Thanks so much!

    Loved the way Teri explained her system of organization and her finding aid. So many ideas to help me fine tune what I’ve started already. Thanks.

    many great hints – thank you

    Most excellent and great examples to help with managing the research information!

    most useful today, better pace.

    Need More!

    Needed this so much! Thank you!

    New ideas about organization make it desirable to think about it to devise my own scheme

    Not sure it is the convention I would use but she certainly brought up some great points about structure, function and finding things easily. Syllabus is thorough.

    Now to have the time to rethink

    Oh, man one of the best and most helpful lectures for me. Thank you so much. A+

    More please

    Organization, Organization, Organization….Keep it simple, consistent and don’t change your system on a whim….think it out first.



    perfect presentation….tons of great ideas

    Please bring her back to talk more about organization!!

    Please have a follow up webinar!!! This was great information & we need more.

    Please have her back!!!

    Please have Terri Flack back, so many questions so little time.

    Really engaging & accessible webinar, thank you Teri, and to all involved

    Really helpful; I liked the comment that we needed another block of time for the follow-up questions.

    She also has a webinar in the library which expanded more on what she explained. I just discovered her recently and think she’s the best.

    She did a great job but it was above mu head.

    So helpful and clearly paced.

    So many great ideas, so little time!

    So much information! Tried to take notes, but will have to re-watch for info I wasn’t able to write down.

    Some good ideas on organization – too complicated for the average user and will break down when you learn your parent are related (and when you learn you are related to your spouse, if you have one) – that isn’t an If, it’s a when. Need to use tags instead of folders, so I got some ideas I can apply to my tagging schema and I appreciate them.

    Some great ideas for sorting and documenting our files and documents, brilliant….

    some of her steps were confusing but in general very helpful.

    super well-organized and super well-thought out. I will probably choose to keep my own (more conventional) naming title, as Ii won’t have nearly the kind of large family groups or nearly as many items to include in the folders, but her pointing us to the naming convention and why she does it, made a big difference in my own thinking, and I will probably make some needed changes, so that I can locate what I am looking for more easily.

    Superb information. Now all I need is to get organized! But I will. 🙂

    Teri is an excellent presenter.

    Teri Flack was a good presenter. Sometimes I felt she went too much into detail on some of the files since they were particular to her research and this slowed down the presentation.

    Teri gave very helpful information.

    Teri was a good speaker. System sounds a bit complicated, but her slides helped.

    Teri was great, we need her back for more!!!!

    Teri was wonderful! I’m going to watch it again, so much great info I couldn’t remember it all!

    Teri’s webinar was so very well organized and helpful — Definitely need to make the switch to digital!

    Terri reiterated the absolute importance of Organization especially naming conventions, being consistent with file & folder names…which I do. Good job Terri!!

    Thank you! So much info to consider! Definitely inspired me to rethink and plan a consistent organizing method!

  7. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Thanks Terry – wonderful information

    The key I needed to keep from repeatedly downloading the same records! Thank you!!!

    The presenter, Teri F., did a great job. She was easy to follow and inspired me to get organized!

    The slides went fast.

    This all sounds very nice and helpful. I’m still not convinced I can actually do it. I’ve been researching my family history for years, and there have been very, very few presentations like this. I would appreciate more. Thank you.

    This expanded my understanding of records that you cannot yet tie to you family, very interesting.

    This gave me lots to think about to get better organized. Thank you.

    This is my first time listening to Teri but won’t be the last, I hope. Please bring her back for more about organization tools and techniques as well as organization philosophy.

    This was fabulous! Great webinar!

    This was so full of new help in filling I need to hear a few more times.

    This webinar gave a different way to document one’s digital files. The way she documented her files works for her, I’m sure. But it seemed a little too complicated for me. I will incorporate the general ideas of what she was explaining to suit my way of thinking, as she suggested. But it is a lot better than what I have now ~ which is a mess!! You system works for you and that’s great!! I’m just going to make a few changes to suit me!! Thank you, Teri, and I may contact you via email!!

    timely …

    Too bad this information wasn’t available years ago before I started collecting records, etc. I do have a naming convention, but see that it needs tweaking.

    Too fast & confusing for me but I’m a beginner. Glad this was free and I can re-take this lecture next week.

    Too short

    Unbelievably detailed subject matter and presentation. Very knowledgeable, experienced, and easy to understand presentation with a lot of helpful ideas.

    Very clear presentation and the right pace! Thanks.

    Very complicated system but I understood her logic.

    very fortunate to have such a find presenter and presentation. thank you. tlc

    Very good ideas but overwhelming to absorb. Definitely need a follow up with more examples and Q&A.

    Very good ideas.

    Very good information and tips. I know all of us who have been doing genealogy for decades wish we had had classes like this from Day-One.

    Would have saved us lots of time, anxiety, and paperwork. Thanks for these great webinars.

    Very good suggestions for getting all that stuff organized, and keeping it accessible and useful.


    Very Good. Will need to rewatch it.

    Very helpful … I’m in the process of doing this as I just purchased a new computer, so it’s a good time … reviewing my old files and creating new ones …

    Very helpful ideas about organization!

    Very helpful pointers. My wheels are already spinning.

    Very helpful— thank you!

    Very helpful! Thank you!

    Very helpful, thank you!

    very informative

    Very informative!

    Very informative! Wonderful presentation.

    Very informative!!

    Very informative, Lot of great suggestions for to be determined research.

    Very informative. Already practising some of the naming conventions but will definitely start a finding aid today. Thank you.

    Very nice way to organize. I like the different ways she does things and gave me ideas.

    very practical and good examples

    Very practical, useful, immediately applicable, not too technical. Just the right amount of information.

    very thorough and sounds workable, but does seem a chore to change now!


    very useful detail.

    Very useful webinar. The examples from her own file structure and spreadsheet were especially helpful.

    Wants me want to get busy and check out my organization system!!!!

    way beyond my simple understanding!

    well organized!!

    Well presented with much to think about in terms of filing conventions, a fresh new idea.

    Went pretty fast.

    Will have to re-watch! So much useful information…. I need a better plan!!

    Wish the syllabus had more screen shots of her presentation

    Wonderful information. Thanks!

    Wonderful presentation. It gave me new avenues to research



    Wonderfully useful and helpful. Thank you.


    Wow! So much info! I gotta think about this!

    wow, lots to process. Thank you

    You have a very good presentation voice, Teri Flack! I think it’s important to sound KIND when you’re talking to people who need to get organized, LOL. Thank you for all the good information and suggestions. I will definitely integrate this with the parts of my computer filing system that are already working, and the advice to use the same structure and naming conventions for paper and other files make so much sense! Thanks again.


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