Binders Glorified: genealogy research and organization magic

I love 3-ring binders!  They are magic!  I have banker’s boxes full of empty binders in my garage.  I have a hall closet full of binders waiting to be filled.  I have shelves of binders currently holding very important information.  Whoever invented the 3-ring binder deserves a gold star! Why do I need so many binders?  OK, so I’m an organization junkie!

Organization does not need to be a boring subject!

Organization does not need to be a boring subject!

Here are just some of the items you will find in binders at my house:

  • recipes from myself and 3 daughters
  • almost 40 years of journals
  • newspaper clippings of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City
  • trips we have taken complete with photos, trip journals, maps, etc.
  • the crazy family stories my husband and I tell our grandkids
  • photos that don’t have a home yet
  • greeting cards (I can’t throw them away)
  • important papers and documents
  • computer CD’s (in those cool plastic thingies that hold 4 CD’s on a page)
  • music CD’s (in those same plastic thingies)
  • DVD’s (yep, more thingies)
  • book lists (you’ll soon find out how much I love books and book lists)
  • crochet patterns
  • family journals (documentation of family activities)
  • OK – I think you get the picture – I couldn’t live without my 3-ring binders

However, the biggest and best reason for binders is to organize my genealogy research. And I have the magic recipe for what’s inside the binder, but that’s for another post.

It's what's inside the binder that counts!

It’s what’s inside the binder that counts!

In the meantime, here are my binder tips:

  • White binders look nice on the shelf.
  • “View” binders can be customized with cute scrapbooking paper and titles printed on the spines.
  • I use scrapbooking paper in four colors (one color for each of my four main families) so they can easily be found on the shelf.
  • Older plain binders can be covered with cloth or contact paper, etc.
  • Stock up on 2″, 2.5″, and a few 3″ for genealogy.
  • Binders come in a variety of grades, prices, and ring mechanisms, but check out or for some good prices.
  • And don’t forget sheet protectors – LOTS of sheet protectors.  Buy them by the box at or Costco.

What about being paperless?  Are you kidding me?  Connie doesn’t do paperless when it comes to genealogy research.  I need my hard copies in front of me where I can think, sort, analyze, scribble, attach sticky notes, and caress my newly-found documents. Besides, when my husband sees all those binders full of research, he keeps helping with the housework and cooking the meals!

So, buy a few binders, fancy them up a bit, and get ready for research magic (or just use them to organize your life)!

connie ward girl with a past genealogy blog binder notebook 3 ring spine label


17 thoughts on “Binders Glorified: genealogy research and organization magic

  1. I am looking forward to your post telling us your magic recipe for organizing the inside of your genealogy binders. Any idea when that might happen? 🙂


    • We have been in the middle of moving and since I thought the process would be quick, I packed all of my genealogy! I’m realizing that was a bad decision. I wanted to do this post with pictures, so I am trying to find examples in my digital files that I can use. As soon as I pull those together, I will do the post. Thanks for keeping me on my toes!


  2. Seconding looking forward to the magic recipe–I have been searching the web for ideas, and stumbled to your blog today. I know how big a chore moving is, so I’ll be patient!


  3. Simply amazing & I am definitely jealous! This is exactly what I need to do. Do you have any suggestions where or how to start? Any assistance would be much appreciated – thank you very much!!


    • I just began with myself and my husband, made a binder for us, then went on to my parents, their parents, and so on until I reached a set of grandparents or collateral line where I needed to research and then set up the research binder for them. The binders I made for myself and the next few generations where I already had all the info were much simpler and contained divider tabs for the parents and each child. Is that what you mean?


  4. Hello! I work in a library and am doing a 10 minute online segment on our social media called “10 Essential Things Every Genealogist Needs.” I found your post on binders and am so impressed with your organization skills! Would you mind if I used one or two of your photos from this post in my presentation? They’re just so nicely done! I will credit your site. Thanks for your consideration.


    • I have a wall of 13″ cubbies and that helps (you can see them in the picture). On my long shelves I just use an Ikea magazine holder full of family histories intermittently to keep things upright.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s