When I first started researching my family history, I quickly started to collect mounds of papers and documents and I was getting overwhelmed with how fast everything was piling up. I looked to the internet for information on how to get started and the best ways to organize all the information that I was starting to hoard! There were SO many different systems that I read about, but none of them quite fit what I was looking for. I tried filing by the 4 colors, but I would always get confused as to what color went with which surname and where to move the folders when a person got married etc. I tried binders and filing by document (birth/baptism, marriage, death/burial, census records, land records etc) but I found that while working on one ancestor, I needed ALOT of room to spread out the binders so that I could reference each one as I was working. I would start to take pages out and they would never make it back to their proper spaces at the end of the session and I ended up with a mismatched pile anyways! What was the point of being organized?
About a year and a half ago I found Colleen Greene’s website at http://www.colleengreene.com. Once I read through her posts on “Evernote for Genealogy” I started to get excited about organizing again! Her system was one that I could work with and tweek to my liking. A system that clicked for me!
And so it began. Several years of research had to be imported while some documents still needed digitization. I got to work and this is what I came up with.
I took the templates from Colleen Greene’s website and modified them a bit to work for me.
Each person in my family has their own “Person Notes”. It starts with their name followed by birth year and death year (if confirmed). Underneath that are two links. One that takes me to their research log (in excel) and the other to their family groups sheets (also in excel) that includes a timeline in chronological order.
I tag each person with their surname, MRIN number, RIN number and whether they are a direct ancestor or a collateral ancestor.
On the same page underneath this chart, I include a “Question” section with checkboxes for all the questions that I think of as I am researching. Once they are answered I check, it off and continue on my way.
Underneath that I have each record that I have found for the individual transcribed or abstracted. Since most of my records are in French, I also include my English translation of each record.
I will also add maps where I have pinpointed each location and what happened in each location.
Next, if you are still with me (which I hope you are!) each record that provides evidence of an event or detail is notelinked (in green) beside the event or detail in the “Person Notes”.
You can click on a notelink and it will take you to that record.
I include a complete source citation as well as a tag for record type, location, surname and RIN. I will then include a tag that states what still needs to be done to the record.
Transcriptions, abstracts or translations are also copied and pasted below their record.
All my documents are notelinked back to the “Person Notes” and all “Person Notes” have a link to the records.
The “Master Genealogy Index” brings me to a list of everyone that I have in Evernote. When I am in the index I can just click on an individual and I am brought to their “Person Notes”.
I have stacks in my Evernote for my Genealogy files, History files (this includes all information I have found on certain locations or events that may have impacted my ancestors) and Resources (this includes extra information on each record type).
My system is always evolving, but I hope that if you have been stuck trying to figure out an organization system that works for you, you can come away from this post with some ideas!
Thanks for sticking with this very long post and I hope you come and visit again!
Have a great day!