Using Clooz for Genealogy Source Documents

I started using the program “Clooz” by Liz Kelly Kerstens to document my8 genealogy documents, photos and hard copy records seven or eight years ago.  The need for a documents database became all too apparent when I spent more time finding source documents in my files to support questions from people visiting my genealogy site than it sometimes took to obtain a new duplicate document.  

In a recent post, I wrote about the size of my document collection that details the problem of ‘quantity’.

Adopting a numbering system and recording the documents in Clooz resolved the problem.  I don’t remember the exact idea source of the system I use, but think it came from an old training video that featured Liz.

Given that background, I highly recommend using Clooz to document your own genealogy documents.clooz

I use the system described below to number my documents, record them and include the document reference numbers in my Legacy database.  Remember that numbers are just reference points in this system and have no other logic other than category names.

After installing Clooz, I imported a GEDCOM file from my database to create a People Table.  When you start using Clooz, decide what records you want in your GEDCOM.  All of your genealogy database? … or another groupings such as only direct ancestors and their families. 

My suggestion: Export a GEDCOM of your full genealogy database so you can associate all source documents for them in your Clooz database.

In the screencap below, note all of the default types of documents in Clooz.  Double click on the images to see them in full size. 

In the next example, I’ve created a Birth source entry in Clooz that references the original birth record for one of my ancestors.  Note that the document is also associated with other members of her family that are mentioned in it.  I opted to number my Birth records category with Births 0001.  I’ll talk more about numbering later in this article.

When I created a source in Legacy for her record, I included the Birth File ID from Clooz as shown below.  The birth record number shows in exports of her record, both digital and in hardcopy.  When someone asks for proof of my source, I no longer have to go through multiple drawers and hanging files to find the original source document.  In the above example, I opened the record in Legacy to get the source document number then opened the binder labeled “Births 1 – 200” and flipped to document number “Birth 0018”.


The next example shows a Death Record number added to a source in Legacy.

Below is a Marriage Record in Clooz that references all of the people associated with it.  Note that you can point the Clooz record to the source document image on your computer.

I no longer worry about filing my Source Documents alphabetically, but rather just assign the next number to them in the appropriate category.  In this Clooz and actual Source Document example, the Marriage Certificate is numbered “Marriage 0015” 

Each of my source documents is stored in acid-free sheet protectors inside a Wilson-Jones binder with hard plastic covers.  I put two source documents in each sheet protector back-to-back and then create a label for each record number, attaching it to the front of the sheet protector, thus the label on the back of this example reads “Marriage 0016”.

All of my binders are stored standing vertically on bookshelves in cool, dark locations.  You can usually get 200 documents in sheet protectors in a 3” binder, but that number will change depending on document thickness associated with folded or non-standard sizes, etc. 

When I started my numbering system, I opted to use a four-digit number thinking that I’d never obtain more than 9999 Birth Certificates.  Now that I’m approaching that number, I wish that I’d started using a five-digit number.

Each category in my filing system uses a four-digit number field.  I keep a full report from Clooz in the front of each of my binders as a quick hardcopy reference.  I don’t worry about updating the reports in the binders with lower document numbers because they don’t change over time.  The numbering system simply adds new numbers to the list, thus I only print new reports when the binder contains new documents since the last report.

Because the system works so well, I use it for almost every source document except a few ‘odd-ball’ items like a drivers license, military insignia, etc., but I could easily create a category for them in Clooz and number them similarly if needed.

Categories in my Clooz database include:

  • Birth
  • Marriage
  • Death
  • Will
  • Deed
  • Property
  • Letters
  • Diaries
  • Signatures
  • Photos
  • School
  • Church
  • Civic
  • Military
  • Several others for less populated groups.

A side benefit from this effort is the involvement of our grandchildren the documents and storage process.  I save the original documents in sheet protectors with a post-it-note on the front listing the number that should be assigned to it in the Clooz database.  

Some of them are old enough to enter data into Clooz and take on that task.  Others are too young but enjoy creating the labels and attaching them to the sheet protectors. 

Their over-night stays almost always include an hour or so helping grandpa with the family records.  The activity provides a chance for us to talk about our ancestral families and for me to teach them a little more about doing genealogical research.  

Everyone wins.  We get time together and hopefully, the “genealogy bug” will infect them sufficiently that they will assume our ancestral quest when I’m no longer on the scene.  Additionally, they all know how to take care of their own records and those of their future families.    Good stuff all the way around.

Copyright (c) Lee Drew 2011-05-21 09:00:00
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About lineagekeeper

Family history research is a favored avenue of relaxation. It is a Sherlock-like activity that can continue almost anywhere at any time. By leveraging a lifetime involvement in technology, my research efforts have resulted in terabytes of ancestral data, earning me the moniker of Lineagekeeper. And yes - We are all related to Royalty.