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Our mission is simple — to help you capture, preserve, organize and enjoy your family's most valuable memories using archival best practices, methodologies equipment and supplies, employed by FA Logo professional archivists and museum experts from around the world.


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How to Organize Your Documents

Archival file folders organize and
protect your special documents

It's important to organize your documents into an accessible and usable archive, with a labeling structure that can grow and adapt with your archive over time. While the type and volume of documents will vary from family to family, part of the fun of creating a family archive is in developing an organizational structure that’s personal and relevant for your family and your family archive project goals.

Be sure to label your document files consistently so that later you can make sure your photos, mementos and other materials can be easily labeled to match.

You might organize your document files by:

  • Person

  • Timeframe (1960, 1970, 1980)

  • Events (vacations, births, graduations)

  • Activities (schools, jobs, organizations)

  • Paper collectibles (stamps, baseball cards)

  • Financial documents (mortgage, investment and retirement documents, insurance policies, bills or financial documents)

  • Personal documents (birth certificates, marriage certificates, passport and/or immigration documents, medical information, wills and other legal documents)

  • Correspondence (e.g. letters, postcards, notes)

  • Journals or diaries

  • Posters and artwork

  • Books & magazines

  • News clippings and newspapers

  • Paper and cardboard signs

  • Religious papers (baptism, confirmation, bar/bat mitzvah)

The best way to get started is to look over the documents you've decided to keep in your archive and see where the natural groupings occur. Make piles or files of documents that seem to go together. Then, make a list of your piles and see if some can be combined or be filed as subcategories in the same larger category. For example, see if your school materials can be grouped into one category, or if you have enough to divide them by elementary, middle and high school.

As you can see, there are a lot of ways to arrange your family archive and there's a lot of flexibility within the naming structure.

Helpful Hint: The key to establishing a naming structure is to use "high level" category descriptions that can be flexible over time. For example, if you label one file or box "financial documents", you can include mortgage papers, investment and retirement documents, insurance policies, and bills in that section of your archive, instead of having separate labels for each of those types of papers. This enables you to add or delete documents within the financial documents section of your archive at any time, without having to change the name of the section.

How to Preserve Your Documents