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Learning to Use RootsMagic Lists

Research Logs / To Do Lists

When I first started my genealogical research, I had some great mentors that encouraged me to keep a log of all of my research — including finding nothing (NIL). I was fairly successful at this when doing paper genealogy. When I started using PAF (Personal Ancestral File), I continued using my paper logs. However, when I switched to TMG (The Master Genealogist), I began to slack off with this aspect of my research. I tried the tools built into The Master Genealogist, but I never incorporated them into my research process. I have citations written according to the standards of the time, but I don’t have a record of unsuccessful searches.

When I switched to RootsMagic, I elected to use OneNote and a spreadsheet for my research log and todo list. Unfortunately, I was having issues with the syncing of OneNote between devices. Thus, I started looking for other solutions — including Evernote and RootsMagic’s built in tools.

Knowing that RM would keep all of the info together, I decided to try using the Research Manager and To-Do List within the program.

My first major use of the Research Manager was during a trip to the Midwest Genealogy Library in Independence Missouri. As I was working my way thru my Excel To-Do for the library, I discovered that I really liked using RM’s Research Log.

  • Prompted to record info to build a citation
  • Prompted to include repository
  • Transcribed information directly into log

By putting all of this information in the research log, I have everything needed to enter an event into RootsMagic, – including the citation information and ‘detail text’. A second advantage, is that the information is stored within RootsMagic for later usage.

Based on my positive experience with the research log, I decided to expand and use the TO DO list. Knowing that we would be making a research trip to the Kansas State Historical Society, I transferred the information from my Excel To-Do list into tasks on RM’s ToDo list. For my research trip, I printed a report showing only those tasks that could be completed at the KSHS. I quickly learned

  • Task headings need to be more specific: event, name(s), date(s), place(s) and possibly a call number
  • Task details matter
  • Transferring the task to the research log did not mark the task as completed

I do like the feature to transfer the task to the research log. This allowed me to easily transcribe the items directly into the Research log.

For both research trips, I used the iScanner app on my phone to take pictures of the source. I tried the free version but ended up purchasing the full app. I like iScanner because it keeps all of the images from one source together. Thus, I can take a picture of the title page and of desired pages and know that they go together. I can export the images as images or as a PDF document. I included a not that I used iScanner to take the pictures in my Research Log entry.

Even though I’m still learning to use these tools, I hope that I can improve my research skills thru their use.