Organization-for the genealogist…

My life gets hectic at times. I have three children-two of which are in college, an elderly mother, a husband, a house, my church work and hopefully soon a new job. Finding time to do genealogy is sometimes hard, and when I find it, I like to pick up where I left off. I’ve tried everything over the years to figure out a good system of keeping up with what I’ve done, and where I need to go. I’ve used the task lists in my genealogy program, bought other programs, but I finally have come to terms with the fact that the best way, is the old fashion paper notebook. I just started with a 70 page three ring binder. In the first two pages, I put my ahnentafel for my first 64 ancestors (my 3rd great grandparents). After that each ancestor got one page. I numbered the pages and started with census. Do I have every census this person lived during entered into my genealogy program?
Then marriages, then deaths, you get the picture. Next I can record the microfilm I am using for guardianships, pensions, WWI drafts, whatever and was this ancestor found and if so what pages. The information itself will be recorded in my genealogy program. The notebook is just so I can tell if this ancestor has been researched in a certain document or group of documents.
Back in the day when I first started, this was called a research log. The more information I collect about an ancestor, the more this information is needed. My first 64 ancestors all lived within a 40 mile radius of each other. They are all documented in the same microfilm rolls of wills, deeds etc. Doing research in a roll of microfilm takes me across several family lines (I could throw Hubby’s family in there to, since they were from the same county for a while.)

In my genealogy program I still use the “research log” there to keep up with tasks, how completed they are, etc because that information is then searchable, printable and can be cross referenced to sources, people and events. When I find someone’s will, it gets transcribed and then I can share it with cousins, print it out, or just use it to do research to find his children and grandchildren. I can create tasks telling me where I found that information, how much more work needs to be done on the tag, what source I used, etc. That information comes in handy when I need to see what events use what sources.

The more organized I am in my every day life, the smoother things run. When I am sick others can pick up where I left off and run things for me. My goal is to do the same in my genealogy life, because some day, hopefully one of those three kids is going to show an interest in my work and want to know where their great great grandfather’s will was recorded and why it wasn’t in the county he lived in his whole life. At that point I want to turn over work I can be proud of, not a hodge podge of dates, names and places with no proof whatsoever that they are correct. Genealogy without sources is frustrating fiction to the reader.

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