Life gets busy and it can get harder and harder to make time for genealogy work, especially if your supplies are scattered far and wide. Make it easier to dive straight into your family history by keeping everything you need close at hand with a DIY family history kit.

General Supplies

Once you’ve found time to work on your genealogy, you don’t want to waist it hunting for the supplies you need. Store these items in your research station so that you are never found wanting when you’re ready to get to work:

  • Notebooks – for jotting down research notes or citing sources.
  • Archival quality pens – To take notes, label photographs, and organization materials.
  • Sticky notes – to jot quick reminders of tasks you need to accomplish, or areas of your research you’d like to research further.
  • Cotton gloves – for handling delicate documents and photographs. The oils and acids on our skin can leave fingerprints that degrade materials over time.
  • Paperclips – Quickly lump together information, such as notes, photographs, pedigree charts, and more.
  • Dust Cloth – Easy access for cleaning heirlooms or photographs. Follow cleaning instructions appropriately.
  • Photo Box – to take high-quality pictures of heirlooms. Learn more here.
  • Snacks – Keep your favorite, healthy snacks close at hand along with a beverage so that you don’t have to leave your family history work when hunger strikes.
  • Cemetery Kit – For when it’s time to take your family history on the road. Click here to see what to include in your cemetery kit.

Reference Materials

Whether a cheat sheet, list of blog posts, favorite book, or printable reference guide, keep reference materials close at hand so that you can quickly and easily remember research tips and tricks.

Organizational Supplies

Keeping all those different family history lines organized can become challenging. Whether physical copies or digital, there are a variety of methods to stay organized. Consider…

  • Binders – 3 ring binders with acid-free clear plastic sheets can be a great way to preserve any printed information you’ve obtained.
  • Folders – Folders are another way to store a lot of information in one place.
  • Envelopes – These can be a great way to store odds and ends, like small notes, or piles of photographs. Label each envelope clearly on the outside so that the contents are easy to distinguish. Write on the envelope while its empty so that the ink won’t bleed through to the contents!
  • Envelope Boxes – These can be a great way to store all the envelopes you’ve filled. Additionally, envelope boxes can store heirloom letters and postcards. Invest in a beautiful box that will protect your notes and heirlooms.
  • Shadowboxes – these can be a great way to store bulkier heirlooms, and even include them on display so that family and friends who visit your house can catch a glimpse of your history.

Remember to clearly label everything you organize. Learn more about keeping your family history organized here.

Storage Supplies

Once you have your kit and all your family history items organized, you’ll need a place where you can collectively keep all of your documents. Consider….

  • Bookshelf – Ideal for large amounts of research you’d like to display, including shadow boxes and heirlooms.
  • Chest – A lovely cedar chest (or other decorative chest) can provide protection for your records. Dividers within can help keep you organized.
  • Archival Quality Box – A protective box that won’t degrade photos or documents over time can provide protection for small quantities of notes and heirlooms, and can later be stored within chests or bookshelves.
  • Family Museum – Are you the record keeper for your entire family? Learn how to create your own family museum here.

Choose the storage that works best for you and can comfortably fit your genealogy notes, references, and heirlooms. Remember, you can always upgrade your method of storage as your notes expand or if you decide your first selection isn’t working quite right for you. Last but not least, remember to keep your storage somewhere safe and dry that isn’t too hot or too cold. Extreme temperatures or water can damage fragile documents.

Did we miss anything? What will you include in your personal family history kit?