Thursday, July 21, 2011

Genealogist's Shopping List

Recently some genealogists were commenting about the back to school displays already showing up in what they felt was too early in stores. This week as I looked through the Sunday shopping ads in my local newspaper I noticed that they were offering some great sales on office supplies. Then I started thinking about what a genealogist needs as far as office supplies and important items in performing our work. I like to indulge myself in items that provide a feeling of luxury in my work environment. Like the boxes of Kleenex in my home that make me feel pampered after growing up using rolls of toilet paper as a child.
There are many items that make my work in my home office more efficient. So I have created a rather long list of items that I consider essential in the genealogist's workspace. As you read through them you might want to make a shopping list.

Long Term Items
Desk with large space to spread out, drawers with file hangers, sorting shelves
Comfortable chair, my office chair is one of the best in our house
Folding chair for clients and friends to use when they come to visit
Table you can use for sorting or organizing research and fold up for storage
Desktop Computer/Laptop or both, I have a laptop just for doing presentations
Keyboard that is comfortable
Headphones or headset for listening to online presentations
Wireless Mouse, I recently indulged in a new one and it is fantastic
Copier/Scanner/Fax, there are many types, find one that best fits your needs
Bookshelves, with some drawers
Filing Cabinets, I have one vertical and two lateral files for family notebooks
Hanging File Folders, now come in sets of colors
Stapler, I have both regular and one heavy duty oversized, electric if you like
Three hole punch, mine is one that will do several sheets and adjusts
Electric pencil sharpener
Calculator, I know you can use your computer, but I find one on the side handy
Good light fixtures and lots of extra light bulbs
Fan, for hot stuffy days even with AC they are nice to have
Labeler, with extra refills
Desk phone or cell phone, some day we will go to using just the cell phones, but when the power goes out it is nice to have a land line
Shredder, cross cut, size depends on how much shredding you do
Tape Player/Recorder, one that can play a variety of media
Video Tape Recorder, for interviews
Digital Camera, good quality
Storage Tubs, not the most desirable for keepsakes, they should hold out water
Scissors, various types
Paper cutter
Magnifying glass, I use my grandma's often, but it is not in the best of shape
Decorations, flags from around the world, maps, family lineage charts, things that you like to collect from genealogy trips

Short Term Items (replaced on a regular basis)
Notebooks for client work, I prefer view binders to hold the surname in the spine, size depends on the size of the finished product
Dividers for notebooks, I like to splurge for high quality when they are on sale
Spiral notebooks, for note taking at conferences and classes
Folders, these hold temporary work files when I am away from home
File folders, can be used to separate the stacks of papers on your desk
Sheet Protectors, for documents, pictures, etc., check out Costco
Computer Paper, best bought in bulk when there is a sale, check out Costco
Photo Paper, will depend on the type of printer that you have
Ink for the printer, a major splurge for my work, check out Costco
Note cards, index cards, check out Dollar Tree
Post it Notes, sticky notes
Ink pens, I prefer roller ball grip pens in blue or black, sometimes red
Pencils, I prefer the regular #2
Yellow highlighters, regular or large
Highlighters in a variety of colors, I like to color code things
Glue Sticks, for emergency repairs
White Out, for emergency fixes
Scotch tape
Light bulbs
Envelopes, small, large and variety of large mailing envelopes
Return address labels
Paper Clips, check out Dollar Tree
Heavy Duty Clips
Rubber bands, check out Dollar Tree
CDs for copying files to share or preserve
Business cards, watch for a sale
Checking account and financial records supplies
Flash Drive, I saw an 8G for $9 today
Treats for the energy boost needed while doing late night research
A cup holder for pens, pencils, and magnifying glass kept on desk
Supplies for the grandkids to entertain them while you both work
Last but not least Kleenex
Add ons from viewers:
Annual Wall Calendar
Cork Board
Push Pins
Power strips/USB hubmen

I am sure there are some things that I have forgotten. Please share with us your genealogist office essentials. Make your list and head to your favorite stores. One thing is for sure, I do not miss having to buy back to school supplies for my children, now I can spend the money on my genealogical research tools. Buy some things that will add a feeling of luxury to your workspace. If you are like me, you spend hours at a time working in this space.


  1. When I see the back to school signs I think cool weather is on the way.

  2. Good list! I, too, feel the siren call of the office supply store at this time of year. I should probably invest in a labeler, but I go the cheap route since I inherited a couple of large rolls of 1"x2" stick-on labels. Also recently discovered those high-quality plastic dividers with pockets - love them. I would add wall calendar for planning, cork board and push pins, and power strips/USB hubmen.

    (And I love that you call pens "ink pens.")

  3. Wow. Just go to Office Depot and tell them "one of everything, please!" :-) I've always been a sucker for office supplies.