While I am very faithful at using Evernote to capture, store, and annotate my genealogy documents, I have neglected to keep real research logs during my 15+ years as a genealogist. But the more posts and tips I read from other family historians, the more convinced I have become that I have to start keeping real logs of my findings, searches, leads, questions, and tasks. So early last year I started buckling down. I now keep research logs by ancestor/relative, and have been painstakingly reconstructing log entries for older research. This effort has been ramped up in anticipation of my visit next week to the Family History Library in conjunction with RootsTech.
Evernote is a natural fit for my workflow and needs. I use Google Drive heavily for data management, but a spreadsheet just isn’t easy to read or modify on my iPhone or iPad. I wanted the simplest, easiest, most accessible workflow possible if I’m actually going to keep up with research logs. And one that is accessible and editable from every single one of my computers and mobile devices. Since I already keep my documentation in Evernote, using Evernote for research logs just makes good sense.
I keep a master genealogy Genealogy Log template file in my general research Notebook, which I simply copy and paste into a new Note in the appropriate family history Notebook–my side, or Hubby’s side (see my last post for an explanation)–whenever I start a new log for a new person. I rename the log Note’s Title field to reflect my standard genealogy Note naming convention (again, see my last post), add the appropriate surname Tags, and start filling in the data.
The one difference in the naming convention I apply to the research log versus all other research Notes is that I capitalize the surname so that the log immediately stands out when I search for or browse other Notes with that same surname.
If you look closely at my template as well as an actual working research log (see example below), I also apply a unique code to each individual in the Note Title field, and in other areas throughout the Log. I use the Dollerhide System for my methodology, but I heavily integrate it with Evernote to produce an organizational system that helps keep me sane when trying to remember who is who (especially with identical names). I will blog in more detail later.
My research log template and the actual research logs are not pretty. Remember…simple, easy, and accessible are my criteria. But they work great for me. And I’ve been sticking with logging my research. That’s all that matters. After tweaking the layout and fields for about a year, I’ve stuck with this current format for some time. You are welcome to copy my template from this public link.
Using Note Links
Note Links are one of the most valuable features of Evernote. These allow you to create wiki-type hyperlinks connecting Notes together.
I make heavy use of Note Looks in my research logs, connecting research Notes that refer to the same person, and also connecting to research logs for other key related individuals. Part of why I find Note Links so valuable is that they generate a permanent hyperlink that remains intact even when you edit the Title of a Note. As you discover new information about an ancestor (a female’s surname, a middle name, date of birth, date of death, etc.), you can modify the Title of their research log and it does not break your Note Link.
You may notice that at the top of my actual research log and the template Note, I make reference to a hyperlinked Genealogy Index. I will discuss that index in my next post.
Do you use research logs? And if so, what tool(s) do you use?