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Organizing Your Family History Research


Now that I’ve started you on your path of Family History research, You are going to start to have a LOT of stuff to organize!  It can be overwhelming, especially for someone like me that can’t stand having pieces of paper lying around.  Also, when you are trying to figure out a piece to your puzzle, there will be a lot for you to keep track of.  There are a few things I use to keep track of it all.

Ancestry.com’s shoebox – The first thing I use when I’m doing research through ancestry.com is the “shoebox”.  When you are looking at a record, and you aren’t quite sure it is related to the person you are looking for, save it to your shoebox.  This gives you a chance to keep looking to see if another record matches a bit better.


One Note – I know we talk about OneNote quite a bit around here, but this is DEFINITELY a place where I use it, for sure.  First, create a notebook for the family name.  So if I’m doing research for the Werle line in my family, I’d create a notebook titled Werle.  Next, for the section I’ll title it the location I’m concentrating on.  For example, the Werle’s from where we know, started around Germany, then moved to France, then moved to New York, and then moved to Northern California (where i was eventually born).  Which means I have a section titled Germany, a section titled France, etc.  Then each page is titled with the person’s name I have information on.  So a page that has a scan of a birth record will have a title like Herbert Werle – Birth.  I also make a lot of notes using a digital pen within OneNote.  So I would title that Herbert Werle – Notes.  If one particular person moved around a lot, or there are a ton of various records for them, I have also been known to create an entire section just for the person.  In this case I would title the various pages with the location and type.  In this example it would look like Calaveras County – Birth.  In this scenario, I may also add the year to the front so I can keep the information in chronological order.


Pocket. – When I come across something on the web, that maybe I want to revisit, but isn’t within Ancestry, I’ll save it to Pocket.  I really save a lot of things to pocket.  It’s my “temporary holding place” for all things on the web I want to revisit, but not sure if I want to save permanently.  Every week I have it on my calendar to go through my Pocket and revisit the items that are there.


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