Here’s a quick idea for your family history. Back to School sales are still in progress and it’s a great time to stock up on any supplies you need for your family history and genealogy.

Most of the supplies you’ll buy at local stores will probably NOT be archival quality, so double check the labeling if that’s a concern. Just remember,

Perfection is the enemy of progress

Winston Churchill

A few things I purchased include:

FOLDERSFolders with pockets and prongs will hold loose papers and hole-punched papers or plastic sleeves. I went with the cheapest option, US $0.15 each

Colored folders for direct-line ancestors in my family tree. I purchased a box of each color: blue, green, red, and yellow and will label each folder with one direct-line ancestor. With 40 folders per box, at US $0.15 per folder, one box of 40 folders was US $6.00.

I’m planning to use other colors for great uncles/aunts and other non-direct line ancestors.

I went with

  • blue for my father’s paternal (father’s) line
  • green for my father’s maternal (mother’s) line
  • red for my mother’s paternal line, and
  • yellow for my mother’s maternal line

I chose these colors because they correspond to popularly used colors on family history fan charts

Free Genealogy Fan Chart from Historic Journals
Free Genealogy Fan Chart from Historic Journals

MARKERS – I also purchased black markers, both regular and fine-tipped, so the writing shows up on the colored folders. I used regular markers for the surname & name and fine tipped markers for the birth and death information. I included these details on the front covers so it will be easy to quickly identify similarly-named ancestors.


I like to keep physical copies of family history research and want a simple, inexpensive system for tracking each ancestor. I’ll put any relevant papers for this ancestor in this folder and if there’s too much for a single folder, I’ll add a piece of paper detailing where to find the bulk of this ancestor’s paperwork.

I’ve been having fun searching the internet for photos and stories about my ancestors and downloading these to my computer. Next, I want to print the most valuable files I find and store a paper copy in each ancestor’s folder for quick reference.


Any community supported site is a great starting place. It’s fun to hunt for photos and documents distant cousins have shared online. Often, someone kept family photos and papers, why not look and see if they’ve shared them online.

  • FamilySearch FamilyTree for a community-built family tree
  • FamilySearch Memories for shared photos and stories of ancestors
  • WikiTree ( is another great option
  • WeRelate ( has collaborative family tree information
  • ( has collaborative family trees
  • Societies and Lineage Associations often have writeups (I haven’t paid for any lineage paperwork yet because I’ve been able to find what I want at free sites)
  • Internet Archive ( has many compiled family histories and miscellaneous treasures
  • HathiTrust ( also has compiled family histories and miscellaneous treasures
  • GoogleBooks ( has compiled family histories, directories, and other miscellaneous treasures
  • Fee sites – and of course, the fee sites have member trees you can glean information from:,,,, and more.

Best of luck with your family history research!

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