Organizing Genealogical Information from Card catalog to Geni Program-six easy steps


2014 was going to be the year that I got more genealogy organized and took time to do more research. I work part time, and only have a teenager at home, thought with school, band, church, she’s rarely home and finally I have time to just do genealogy like I dreamed of with three little kids at home.

I started several months ago moving my research log from The Master Genealogist where it never really worked for me. The system is fine and lots of people do like it, but for me, it just didn’t click. For one thing, I need information in my face, or I tend to forget it exists and the research log was several layers down. Then TMG announced that come December they were no longer going to be supported and like most users I began to see what else was out there and discovered that the research tasks were not part of the data moved from program to program via GEDCOM, nor was it likely to be transferred via direct import. So while I am not leaving TMG anytime soon, I did start looking at the options, and decided that I needed first to stop being dependent on the research log altogether. So I started using Evernote strictly for a research log. I don’t use it for recipes, or cute cat pictures or the myriad of other uses people find. Nope for me it is just a research log.

So I began to move 25+years of research into it 60 MB at a time. 🙂  I mostly do my research in the primary documents. Wills, deeds, births, deaths. If I use a secondary source, it’s most likely going to be a printed book that indexes Wills, Deeds, Births, Deaths….

So I have been working on putting my research into Evernote and realized I needed a good way to keep up with all that information I derived from books. Because 1) its a 45 minute, half a tank of gas drive from my house to the genealogical library in town 2) I tended to find the same information (at 25 cents a copy) over and over again and 3) I am trying to move from a filing cabinet drawer (8 actually) to electronically stored documents on my computer.

So here is what I did to move from the library’s online book catalog to Evernote and finally to TMG.

Step 1:  Go to the library’s website online and search for the county I want to work in. In this case, I started with Wilson County, TN.  That gave me a hit of 2342 books!  Oh my gosh, I’ll never get organized that way.  But looking at the books, it became clear that I was getting far more than genealogical books on Wilson County. So I narrowed it down. First I searched “Wilson County” and TN  and second I restricted it to just the library branch I was researching. That got me down to 666 books.  Better, but still a bit of a challenge to work through. Then I realized I could search by topic as well.  So I added “Genealogy” to the search and came up with sixteen books!  That I could handle.

Step 2:  Using the catalog and Evernote’s web clipper, I made one note per each book.

Now I had sixteen notes, which I tagged with “Wilson County, TN books” and I was ready to hit the library.

Step 3:  Once at the library, I opened my computer and went to the stacks and got every book that was in the Wilson County, TN section. I decided that I would work on one ancestor at a time in each book so I could stay focused on the research and chose my Blaylock brick wall.  I have other family lines in Wilson County, TN. So we’ll be visiting those books again and again for a while.

I found the book “Wilson County TN Circuit Court Records V1 “ by Thomas Partlow and turned to the index.

There I found that Blalock was mentioned on the following pages

Blalock 15, 28, 72, 116

Step 4:  Turning to page 15, I began to record the data I found in the book into my Evernote note that I had created at home.  Here is an example of what I had after I looked at all four pages.


Step 5: Once I am home, this information needs to be added to my genealogy software TMG.  The first thing I need to do is use the information from the online catalog to create a source citation.  Luckily everything I need about the book is included in the online card catalog and is in the top part of my note.


Step 6: Then finally I need to figure out who this Charles Blalock is and enter the information into his personal record.


Now the next time I go to the library and use this same book, I will know that I have already entered the information into my genealogy program and won’t need to check for Blalocks again.  Man I wish I’d had this 8 filing cabinets ago!


And as a side note to those of you who have followed my William Blalock to Susan Markham saga, I believe that is my William who on page 116 is arrested for lewdness. 


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