Your genealogy research often includes records of places. One of the difficulties of conducting genealogical research of a place is that place names change. Part of this is due to boundary changes. This issue affects you even if you’re only researching in the United States.
For example, Louisiana wasn’t always the state it is now. When it was the French colony of Louisiana it encompassed modern-day Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. If you had a relative in what is now called Michigan during the time of that colony, they were actually in Louisiana!
Changes to place names are no trouble for my recommended genealogy file and folder organization system for Mac.
Mac OS X has a powerful feature called Finder aliases which make it possible for files and folders to appear to have different names while only really having one. This has two major benefits.
- Minimize space required to store the files by having only one copy
- Keeping files about a place of one name in one folder while having them appear in other folders for the same place going by another name
You will use aliases often when you organize your genealogy files and folders using this system so I’m going to show you how. There are a couple ways you’ll use them and we’re going to take them one at a time to keep it simple. In this video I show you how to label folders when place-names change, saving time and drive space. The basic procedure is:
- Create the folders for the modern-day locations first (eg. country, region, county, and city)
- Create the folders for historical location next, except for the city
- Create an alias of the modern-day city folder
- If the name of the city was different in the historical location, rename the aliased city folder
- Move the aliased city folder to the appropriate place in the historical location folder structure
Let me show you how simple it is. Collect the location information for an ancestor in a similar situation and follow along, replacing your location for the example I use.