How to File Your Data in Historical Research

Historical Research Series


A person can be an expert Historical Researcher, but if he/she can’t find the data at a moment’s notice then the research is not worth a dime. Without a good filing system the information is as good as lost.



Writers who are researching their novels need a good filing system, but not necessarily a complicated or an expensive one.


You may feel comfortable with a 5-drawer filing cabinet, different files in the PC or a shoebox. It doesn’t matter what you choose as long as it works for you. And by “works for you” I mean you can find everything right away.


Here is basic filing system which you may use as is, or adapt.


Let’s imagine I am a writer doing research on the 65th Infantry Regiment during the Korean War. Go to “The Bourinqueneers” website to see examples. This website has all the different types of material a historical researcher would run into: articles, films, official reports, lists, names, history, links, contacts, etc.


[http://www.valerosos.com 65th Infantry Regiment U.S. Army]

Steps

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    PC: Set up different folders for on-line reports, related in-coming e-mails, pictures, diaries, etc. Keep photos, e-mails, and reports in separate folders.
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    Flash drive or CD: for big files, pictures. Use them for anything which is not a hard copy, and which would take up too much space on the PC. Again keep different types of sources in separate folders.
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    Use DVD's to save on-line documentary films.
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    Buy separators or make your own.
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    Use binders. Use as many separators as you need, and/or file different types of sources in different binders. Label them well.
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    Keep an address book/index file with contact names, telephones, e-mail addresses, website addresses.
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    Buy a couple of manila envelopes for bulky items which can neither be stored in a binder or a PC file.
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    Eliminate loose sheets and scraps of paper.
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    Use a diary/calendar book to record appointments, dates, names.
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    Evaluate every book, article, exhibit, conference, website you read, attend, or visit.
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    Keep evaluation sheets separate from the data according to type and in alphabetic order.

Tips

  • Start filing correctly from day one of your research.

Article Info

Categories: Better Writing | Research and Review