Tag Archives: organise

Using Note Apps for Genealogy – follow up

In March I wrote about using note apps for genealogy, and how I was planning to use OneNote to organise my genealogy in preparation for a trip to Scotland where I plan to do some research. I’ve been quiet here on AFamilyHistoryBlog over the last couple of months largely because I’ve been trying to organise my notes, etc, ready for this trip.

Well I haven’t gotten on with OneNote as quickly as I had hoped! I began by creating a few notes about people in my family tree, starting with the earliest known members of my Walker family line, and their relatives, which worked OK. But when it came to creating a “Genealogy Index” (as suggested in the various examples of using note apps for genealogy that I had read about), I found that OneNote struggled to cope with things like copying large spreadsheet indexes of ancestors into it!!!

Alongside OneNote, I had started a spreadsheet (initially in Excel) of my known ancestry, at first to help me work out the Dollarhide reference system (with some tweaks of my own to that system). This spreadsheet has expanded to include details of persons; dates, places,  note of sources, etc. After a while I copied the spreadsheet into Google Sheets, which I can save/access on a smartphone/tablet so that I can access it while on my travels. Having done that, I’ve continued to work on the spreadsheet in Google Sheets, and its working very well.

The spreadsheet has let me see clearly where the most recent gaps in my ancestry begin to occur, which prompted me to have a look into some of these, to see if I could fill any of them! Several of these gaps are parts on my family tree which I have not actively looked into before. I soon found clear details, that were new to me, about several lines of my ancestry, which take me back another 2 – 4 generations in those lines. I have already updated the CADZOW tree on the site, with my finds in that branch of the family, and posted some comments onto my Facebook feed. Other parts of my ancestry still need to be updated on the website!

The spreadsheet has also allowed me to analyse how many ancestors I know in each generation and the date-range of each generation (which is something that I’ve thought of trying to do for a while). So below is the present (May 2017) snapshot of what I know about my ancestry.

This shows the number of ancestors in each generation that I have forenames for. I don’t necessarily have women’s maiden names, or dates of birth/death for the oldest generations in any line. Numbers in brackets “(? x)” represent a total which includes possible ancestors that I’m not yet certain of! And “x / x” represents the number of individuals / and the number of places in my ancestry that they occupy (i.e. where cousins married, therefore their grandparents each occupy two places in the ancestry. So “2 / 4” = two grandparents, occupying 4 places in the ancestry, the effect of which doubles each generation further back you go).

SURNAMEs of Matt’s 2x Great-Grandparents; 3x Gt [iii] 4x Gt [iv]    5x Gt   [v]    6x Gt   [vi] 7x Gt [vii] 8x Gt [viii]
Generation no. > 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 futher gens.
WALKER 2 4 2 (? 4 ) 1
JOHNSTON 2 4 6 4 2
CADZOW 2 4 2
BLACK 2 4 4 (? 6 ) 4 (? 8 )
FRY 2 4 8 4 6 6  +6 gens
EYRE 2 3 2
BUCKNALL 2 4 4 2
HUTCHISON 2 4 8 4 / 8 4 / 8 2 / 4
WALTON 2 4 4 2 2
HENDERSON 2 4 6 4 4 4  +3 gens
HART 2 1 (? 4 ) (? 2 ) (? 4 )
Known Individuals / (Places on tree)
31 49 (?52) 46 (? 52) 25(?29)/ 33(? 37) 19 / 23 12 / 16 15
Total; Possible Individuals; 32 64 128 252 504 1,008 2,016
Total; Places on tree; 32 64 128 256 512 1,024 2,048
Birth Date Range; 1772 – 1832 1731 – 1803 c.1694 – 1779 1683 – 1749 1622 – 1723 1587 – c.1704
Death Date Range; 1840 – 1925 1795 – 1883 1768 – 1854 bef.1728 – 1839 1688 – 1813 1688 – 1780
Mar. Date Range; 1816 – 1856 1766 – 1824 1728 – 1798 1732 – c.1769 1678 – 1746 1615 – 1722

Another thing that I’ve begun to try and do with Google, and the help of the Google Sheets, is to map where my ancestors come from. I’ve created a Google Map, on which I’ve started placing markers for the place of birth of each ancestor (where I know it). Its a good way to visualise where my ancestry is from. Due to my forthcoming trip to Scotland, I’ve begun by focusing on the Scottish branches of my family, and to show an example below, this is what I get for the WALKER and CADZOW sides of my family (my paternal Grandfather’s ancestors); very concentrated in and around West Lothian.

Last week I took up an offer of 1 month’s subscription to Find My Past – for £1 (the usual monthly subscription is about £10.). Once subscribed, I made sure to disable the”auto-renewal” on the site

, and I’ll double check this before the month expires – because I don’t want to be charged £10 every month hereafter!

I thought that the Find My Past subscription might come in useful while on my forthcoming Scotland trip. Then having subscribed, I decided to blitz trying to find all the census records that I can for my ancestors. So this is what I’ve spent much of last week doing. 

Here​ the Google Sheets came in useful again. On sheet 2, where I’ve listed all my ancestors in Dollarhide number order, with separate columns for birth, death, and marriage details, notes, and source details, I added columns for each available UK census date. Then against each ancestors I coloured in the relevant cells to indicate which census dates I might find them recorded in. This made it easy to see who to look for and when. I began searching for the census records on Find My Past, working down the Dollarhide list, beginning with one grandfather who was born before 1911.

As I worked my way down the list I found a lot of records, some of which added new details about people, and in one or two cases added new people to my ancestors. I downloaded all the scanned images that I could, and copied transcription texts into word DOCs which I saved on my computer. In the spreadsheet I changed the colour of the relevant cells to indicate where I’d found records, and noted whether I had found images, transcriptions, or both. 

There are still gaps where I’ve not found the records. But I’ve now got a good spread of census records, which I’m pleased with. So with that I’m going to have a lot of things to update on my family tree pages on AFamilyHistoryBlog .

Using Note Apps for Genealogy

Last week I was looking at some of the “New Genealogy Blogs” highlighted by the GeneaBloggers blog.

The first post on one of the new blogs; Krista’s “The Great Ancestor Dig”, was all about how she uses the Evernote App for her genealogy research. She also linked to Colleen Greene’s website which has a series of posts about using Cover artEvernote for Genealogy. I was interested in this idea. I’ve used Evernote a little over the last couple of years, but hadn’t thought of using it particularly for genealogy before!

I have been thinking a little, recently, about upgrading my genealogy software. I currently have a very old version of Family Tree Maker. Partly with a trip to Scotland in the summer in my mind, I want something which will work on both Windows PC, and Android tablet/phone, and be accessible off-line, but which won’t automatically publish everything publicly on-line! I’ve looked at a few programs, and downloaded a couple of free trial versions. But nothing has yet struck me as being quite right!

So as a result of Krista’s blog post, I began to have a look at how I might use Evernote (or other similar note-taking apps) for this purpose. There is a wealth of material, articles, etc, out there about how people use apps like this for their genealogy. I soon found that Evernote wasn’t quite right for me, due to the use of its free account being limited to 2 devices! I might want to use it on 3 devices! But looking at the alternatives, I soon found that Evernote’s main competitor, Microsoft’s OneNote might Cover artwork for me. I would normally prefer the independent, open-source option! But the limits placed on using a free Evernote account drove me towards OneNote!

There is just as much online about people using OneNote for genealogy as there is about using Evernote. One great list of various articles is www.CyndisList.com/organizing/onenote/. I went through a number of the articles there, and decided to give OneNote a try. So I’ve just started putting some of my genealogy notes into OneNote notes.

I hunted online for any templates that I could use, to help me get started. And while I picked up a number of useful ideas (from advocates of both Apps), I didn’t find any template that I thought was quite right for me! I joined the “OneNote for Genealogy” Facebook group, hoping to find lots more ideas and advice about how to use the App. But I was disappointed by the relative lack of activity in that group!

So that means that for now, I’m starting with OneNote from scratch and trying to work out my own way of using it, incorporating some of the useful ideas that I’ve read about. How I use it will no doubt evolve and change over time, and at some point, when its more developed, I’ll try to write something more about how I use OneNote, and how I organise my genealogy notes with it.