Organizing Your Browser Bookmarks, by George G. Morgan

Aha! SeminarsStaying organized is always a challenge. I often ask attendees in seminars how many people are caught up with their filing. Invariably there is a silent pause but perhaps one or two hands out of 75 to 100 attendees’ go up. We all know we have to do a better job with that portion of our work but I know from experience that it can be drudgery.

Not surprisingly, genealogical research is among the top uses of the Internet these days. If you’re like me, you find yourself researching at all hours of the day and night, even when you wake up in the middle of the night. We all have favorite Web sites that we visit often, some more often than others. As you have learned to use the Internet, you’ve invariably learned how to use the bookmarking feature of your Web browser, regardless of which one you use. In your excitement of finding a great site, you probably quickly add a bookmark or favorite place to your collection. However, finding that bookmark again may be like a search for the Hope Diamond!

Just as with the filing of other genealogical documentary evidence, you have to invest time into setting up some sort of organized filing system so that you can easily find what you want. They are your personal electronic reference library and you want to access them quickly whenever you need them. A frantic search only breaks your concentration span. I’ve developed my own bookmark organizational system and would like to share it with you.

Devising a System for Your Bookmarks

Your bookmarks reflect the specific collection of Web sites you have compiled to provide you with resources to which you can refer again and again.  Your bookmark file can also be logically arranged into groupings of related resources, not unlike the way your local library’s collection is physically arranged by fiction, non-fiction, reference materials, journals and periodicals, genealogy, history, and so forth. Your bookmark file’s contents will vary based on your personal research goals, your informational tastes, and your reference needs.

Just like the public library’s Dewey Decimal Classification System or the academic library’s Library of Congress Classification System, your bookmark organization scheme should be grouped into subject areas and then, perhaps, to sub-areas. Your first thought should be of major groupings, and for each major grouping you must create a folder in your bookmark file. 

My own bookmarks are arranged by folder to reflect my interests: Genealogy, Music, Reference Resources, Search Engines, News and Weather, and Personal/Miscellaneous. The three most important folders for me are those for Genealogy, Reference Resources, and Search Engines. I think the latter is pretty self-explanatory: I use a number of search engines including Google,, Vivisimo, Big Search Engine (which includes search engines by country), European Search Engines, and Dogpile.

My Genealogy Folder reflects my own research. It starts out at the top with a link to the site, but it then includes the following sub-category folders: Archives (State and County); Australian Sources; Canadian Sources; Cemetery Sites; Databases; Directories; English Sources; Genealogical Societies (with subfolders for the U.S. and the U.K.); German Sources; Immigration & Naturalization; Irish Sources; Message Boards; Military Sites; NARA; Podcasts; Scottish Sources; Software & Supplies; and Wales Sources. Within each of these categories are the bookmarked links to my favorite sites. You can even group the links into clusters and divide them by inserting a horizontal bar. (Read your browser’s HELP to learn how to do manage your bookmarks and this will be one of the topics discussed.)

My Reference Resources folder is another essential collection of resources I use all the time. This is a combination of individual links and sub-category folders. The individual links include: my local public library’s site; an online dictionary and thesaurus; the Systran online language translator; Citation Machine; Wikipedia; and LibrarySpot. A few other personal favorite reference sites such as the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and the Internet Broadway Database (IBDB) are included as well. However, the sub-category folders in my Reference Resources include: Libraries & Archives; Map Resources, Newspapers & Periodicals; and Online Booksellers.

Invest the Time and Maintenance is Easy!

Your browser usually allows you to arrange your bookmarks in any order you like.  Once you create a folder and/or store a bookmark, you can easily move it somewhere else.  Also, don’t hesitate to add the same bookmark in multiple places if you think you may access it from more than one folder or sub-folder.  And, if one arrangement doesn’t work for you, feel free to change it around.  Creating, changing and deleting bookmarks is a simple process.  Invest some time in organizing your bookmarks and commit to filing good ones in your new system.  You’ll be amazed how much more efficient your Web surfing can be.

Visit George’s all-new website at for information about his company, speaking engagements, and presentation topics. You can also listen to George and Drew Smith’s Genealogy Guys podcast at:


One thought on “Organizing Your Browser Bookmarks, by George G. Morgan

  1. I enjoyed your article, but wonder why you aren’t promoting social bookmarking sites such as for research purposes. Not only is it easy to organize your links, but you can build on links added by other researchers – and share your links with others via email or simple web link. For example, my collection of Genealogy Blog sites is available at

    I have a couple of articles at Family Matters ( on how to use these sites. See Bookmark Socialites ( and Tag – You’re It! ( for more information.

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