Organizing Your Genealogy Research Data: The Best Tools to Use

Organizing genealogy research data doesn't have to be difficult! Learn about tools like Airtable, Evernote & Recollector that make organizing & storing data easier.

Organizing Your Genealogy Research Data: The Best Tools to Use

Organizing your genealogy research data can be a daunting task. Whether you're using a folder, folders, or notebook, it's important to sort the files alphabetically by last name so you can quickly find the family you want to research. Within each folder or folder of surnames, archive the items in chronological order, starting with the couple's marriage and ending with their death. To make your research even more efficient, there are a variety of tools available to help you organize and store your data.

Can't get enough forms to organize family data? This download contains more than 100 templates, checklists and worksheets to track your research, from conflicting death dates to DNA matches, censuses and source citations. BUY NOW How will you know where to find 19th century baby shoes and tintypes when it's time to research and share your family's story? How can you make these items more useful and accessible when you also want to protect them from overuse? Airtable is a new type of information database accessible online or through a computer or mobile application. Store data in the cloud and synchronize it between all your devices, so you can access them from anywhere you have an Internet connection. Each entry in an Airtable database needs a unique identifier for the first column.

You can add photos by dragging and dropping them, or you can tap the app's camera icon and use the phone's camera to take a picture of the item. You can also add images and files from Dropbox or Google Drive. Many genealogists use Evernote to take notes and cut out web pages, and this handy web-based tool and mobile application can also help you organize information in your family's files. Use it for your container inventory with a note for each container and create notes for individual items with catalog descriptions and attached photos.

Organize these notes in a notebook called Family Archive. You can set up templates for the inventory and item organization notes in your container, and copy them every time you want to add a new entry. Recollector is a multi-platform management system designed for domestic collectors. Originally developed by an enthusiast of old maps, this software can be used to manage collections of any size and type, including photos, letters and artifacts from a typical family archive.

Use free mobile apps for Android and Apple, iPhone and iPad to sync data through Dropbox and view your catalog from a library or family gathering. You can download a free trial version, which comes with a small catalog of collections for users to work with. You can view the data in your collection as a list, in an image gallery, or in a detailed display window for a single item. Recollector can be used as a general inventory of boxes for a family archive, but it is ideal as a catalog of total family files.

Start a new collection catalog using the wizard from one of the templates included in the software for different types of collections, or import data from a CSV file or an Excel spreadsheet. The ready-to-use templates are configured for collections that include art, books and photographs (ideal if you have a lot of photos), or choose the “generic” template and customize the fields. Another benefit for family archivers is Recollector's new collaboration feature, which allows you to share access to a collection file stored on Dropbox. Multiple users can enter data, add images and view the collection.

You'll appreciate the helpful training videos and the comprehensive user guide. Frequent program updates, new tutorials, and a user forum provide support for new and veteran Recollector users. You might find it easier to just talk about a photo or an artifact. Qroma (pronounced crow-ma), another RootsTech award winner, automatically converts your words into captions and image file tags.

Now your images are ready for labeling. The QRomaTag app says: “This is a photo of Hazel Harper Schuler taken in Pasadena at the Crandall Photo Studio”, extracts people, places and dates, and creates labels. These tags are stored in the metadata of the image file (see page 70 for more information on metadata). QromaTag also transcribes the full text of your speech in the Description field of the software and places the name, place and date in the corresponding fields.

Google Drive is another fantastic cloud option for your research. This is my favorite program/application of all on my smartphone or computer. Google Drive syncs across all my devices so when I'm on the go I can access necessary documents/research notes directly from my phone. Google Drive also allows me to easily share documents/notes etc., which is perfect when collaborating with research partners.

You can immediately edit/archive digital files in cloud storage such as Google Drive while information is still fresh in your mind. Obviously, your camera is ideal for capturing impromptu genealogical visits to cemeteries/other “places of interest” in family history. Sometimes instead of taking pictures of documents I prefer saving them as PDFs. For that I use Genius Scan - it's easy to use/I can upload directly to Google Drive/Dropbox.

Although not technically an app - your smartphone camera is wonderful tool in on-site genealogical research. Before selecting genealogy program be sure to do homework/find right software for needs - another important point consider whether software company actively involved in genealogical community. Genealogy websites make it easy editing tree/searching records/attaching people - all one place - ancestry app/camera could greatly help people document experiences/knowledge related genealogy. Your family's archive needs some kind organization system - first rule collection management keeping it simple - there online forums/Facebook.

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