Do you keep a research log? I have to admit that I would likely get a ‘failing grade’ for this part of the genealogy standard. I’ve tried using a paper log and a spreadsheet log, but don’t seem to be able to keep it up. Thus, I don’t have a ‘master index’ to locate my research notes.
In May, Pat Richley-Erickson, posted a question to the Facebook group, The Organized Genealogist, asking group members how they organize their research notes. This was followed up by a Wacky Wednesday presentation, Organizing Active Research Notes.
I’m just now starting to watch this presentation, but have already picked up on a hint that I would like to implement in my own research: incorporate the link to the actual file in my notes. (Thanks Cousin Russ for sharing this hint from Drew Smith.)
Even though I seem to fail at keeping a formal research log, I have found a tool that helps me keep track of my active research. That tool is Scrivener. Scrivener is actually a tool designed for writers to organize their research. There are a variety of resources that helped me learn to use Scrivener for genealogy.
- Facebook Group: Scrivener for Genealogists
- Lynn Palermo videos on YouTube: Introduction to Scrivener for Family History Writers
- Cyndi’s List – Scrivener for Genealogy
- Legacy News: Three Reasons You Should Be Using Scrivener to Write Your Family History
- The Armchair Genealogist post – Scrivener
I’m not using Scrivener to write a family history. However, I am using it to collect and organize my research notes. Having discovered Scrivener, I have started creating a Scrivener project for each surname I am actively researching. Within a project, I create a folder on the Research corkboard for the county.
My current research project is my CRAWFORD research. Since much of this research involves counties with shifting county boundaries, I’m using the date the county was formed as part of the folder name.
Even though I have to manually sort the folder, having the year the county formed helps me realize that I likely have to look in multiple counties. This date is also a clue to approximate start dates for records in that county.
Then within that county folder, I can
- create a file to take notes
- import images of documents
- transcribe the images of documents
When I take notes, I try to put all of the information needed for a citation at the top of the page. Then I add notes from the source.
When I import an image, I can switch to a split screen with the image on the top and a ‘transcription’ file on the bottom.
By transcribing these records, I can copy/paste the transcription into notes or the citation detail in my RootsMagic. I also am copying this information into blog posts so that I can more easily share them with other researchers.
These files can also be exported in a variety of formats.
As I’m researching several different Crawford families in early Kentucky and beyond, I’ve found Scrivener to be extremely helpful. All of my notes are in this project. Thus, this tool has become my ‘Research Log’.