Saturday, October 31, 2009


Back when I was in high school and college I had this habit of keeping
3X5 index card files in little metal boxes. One was for mythology and
folklore, and the other was for history. Back then I was enthralled
by ancient, classical, and medieval history. I even copied the
dynastic family trees from history books onto blank graph paper.
I'm afraid many of the cards had little more than names and dates
on the top line because I'd create a card for historical figures or
battles to be filled in later and it was a slow process. I only made it
halfway through the alphabet so while I didn't have much information
recorded for Xenophon, if you wanted to know all about Artaxerxes, I was
your man.

Time went on, and it took me away from academia after college graduation.
The card files sat unused in a closet, and when this amazing machine called
a home computer eventually came along, the files were thrown out.

A few months back I gave up trying to figure out how to create a calendar or
a list of the date of death of my ancestors on PAF and then RTM4. And I also
wanted to do a timeline of all the events in the lives of my ancestors who
lived during the Indian wars in New England. So I went out and bought two
packs of 3x5 index cards.

They sat here on my desk for a few months.

Then the other day Elaine the computer was being fickle about starting
up. While I was waiting, I saw the packs of cards and decided it was a good
way to work on genealogy while waiting on Elaine. First I did the timeline,
using the printed copies of blogposts I've done for the past year. There's
still more to add to it from posts from earlier years but quite a bit of it is
already done.

Then I took out the binders with printouts of family groups and started
making cards for the death dates of my direct ancestors. As I went through
each one, I'd take a card, write the month and day on the top, then skip
a line, then write the year and the ancestor's name. If I came across another
ancestor who'd died in a different year with the same month and day, I
skipped a line, wrote down the year and then the name. So in other words,
if one person died on Jan 1 1800 and another died on Jan 1 1917, they are
both on the card with the header, "Jan 1". I've gotten pretty far along on
this now, too.

Not rocket science I know, but it passed the time and I enjoyed it. It gave me
time to consider some of the family relationships and to make note of family
groups that need fleshing out.

I asked this question already over on Facebook but I'll do it again here:
any other geneabloggers using old fashioned 3x5 cards in their research?

1 comment:

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

Bill, I have two such card files, one for my family and one for my husband's family, but I make my entries by name, with one event per card, the date of the event, and the source citation. I got a whole bunch done, but have not had time recently to work on it, what with classes at university, my book coming out (finally done, and it's going to press!), speaking engagements, and other stuff. I probably won't have much time until next summer, but I like your idea, too, of using dates as entries.