My Genealogy Workflow

Genealogy workflow is how a genealogist does research, documents it, and records it.  In the next few blog posts, I’m going to be talking about my personal genealogy workflow in hopes of inspiring or helping others develop their own genealogy workflow.

Genealogy Workflow - Digital Images

Today’s Topic: Digital Records.

Step #1: Find a record on a website (like or FamilySearch), online database, or a microfilm record that I’ve saved via a flash drive, or other book/document/record that is captured with a digital camera or scan.

Step #2: Save the image to the appropriate surname folder in DropBox.  If the record has more than 2 pages (like a military file), create a folder for the record within the appropriate surname folder and then save each page as an image.

Step #3: If the picture needs annotating (like highlighting the particular parts of the image that are related to my ancestor or to add a source citation), I use the Chrome add-on, Awesome Screenshot: Capture & Annotate

Step #4: Transcribe and analyze the digital record in Microsoft OneNote (AKA: The program I can’t live without!).

Step #5: Enter fact(s) in RootsMagic with source.

Step #6: Add notes, transcription, and possibly theories to fact notes.  Add ideas of where to look next to person notes.

Step #7: Add the information to WikiTree.  This step is especially important to me when I am collaborating with another researcher.  [Note: I add the new information manually to my WikiTree profiles.  I uploaded a GEDCOM in September 2010 – the GEDCOM import made the biographies ugly and not easy to read.  So I’ve been slowly going back and editing each profile for readability – starting with my brick wall ancestors and the ancestors I’m currently working on.]

Some Notes & Comments:

In my pursuit to be an all digital genealogist, I almost never print anything out.  Paper takes up space and right now, I just don’t have the space.  Plus, I figure my future children will not want to inherit binders full of stuff and it will sadly, be tossed.  So for me, digital is the way to be.

OneNote is my favorite for tracking my thought process and writing down my hypothesis.  I use it because I can add images, screenshots, and text – which makes writing out my thought process much easier.  Plus, it’s all searchable.  Once my hypothesis is written out, I copy it into my RootsMagic database for either the person or the fact (sometimes both) note fields.

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6 responses to “My Genealogy Workflow

  1. I am interested in your post. Right now I am halfway digital, I am hoping you give some great ideas I can use. Do you always take a flash drive when you go out to do research and do you use it at home when you are downloading?

    I did not know about the Awsome Screenshot and I have downloaded it. My worry is how many places should a person have as a back up for the files?
    Claudia´s last blog post ..EUREKA MOMENT

  2. Thanks for sharing this and letting me know that I’m not alone in my digital documenting. I see people all the time with massive binders, writing out family charts and documenting in notebooks. I have one small notebook and a few obituaries in print, everything else is an electronic file organized by familial folders. How do you create file names? I start with the document year, the name of the person, then the document type (i.e. 1946_JohnSmith_DeathCert.pdf) because it helps keep my folders organized in a linear fashion. It’s not perfect, but it works for me. Also, can you write a little bit about how you use and organize with OneNote?
    Joe Lowry´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday – Chuck Lowry outside St Vincent dePaul

  3. One alternative to OneNote is Evernote – I use Evernote as becuase it’s cloud based (but has a desktop client) it lets you keep your notes in sync across different computers and devices such as tablets and smart phones.

  4. I enjoyed reading this as it reinforces my own view, whilst I know that may of my family members continue to use binders.

    I didn’t know about WikiTree or the Screen shots. So thank you. I use Zap Grab for screen shots.

    I just need to remember to back up more regularly!

  5. Elyse, Great process for genealogical workflow ! Thanks for the tip on Awesome Screenshot . And if I never get to Step # 2, 4 , I always do # 7 ~ as you know, WikiTree ~ and then, Step # 5 , my software .

    I still have my field work notebooks, files cabinets from days of old ( and a digital camera ). After so many years, I am trying to lighten my loads too.


  6. Laurie Sheehan

    Great post! Thank you!
    I also would like to know how you use OneNote to organize your ideas.


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