Question of the Week: How do you organize your research?

+8 votes

No photo description available.How do you keep all your genealogy research organized?

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in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
edited by Eowyn Langholf
I use the categorization method. I also use stickers and backgrounds. For example, I have used one background picture for all my civil war profiles. In that way, I can just go to the image page and there is a handy listing of those profiles.

7 Answers

+11 votes
I use multiple methods.

1., multiple trees (my maternal, my paternal and my husbands full family) where I house most of the information. I also have a account to access military records.

2. Binders for physical documents, photos, written notes, charts, graphs, etc. - one for each tree. Only items not in binders are those which are really old that I keep in our fireproof safe.

3. External hard drive for all scanned documents and photos, including those I have in hard copy. This made the Scan-A-Thon very easy for me as everything I have in hard copy I also have a scanned copy of. I have high level folders that align with the trees and then folders for each surname so I can easily locate items.

I am fairly new to WikiTree (just started in Nov/Dec 2019). I'm finding it a very useful tool for research, connecting dots I had not connected before, learning from others and finding new ways to research.
by Amy Barlow G2G3 (3.7k points)
+9 votes

For the past few months, I've been using spreadsheets to track progress in the three One Name Studies I manage, keeping track of profiles added, whether they have any sources at all, their sourcing level (tracking 0 to 3 primary sources), whether they're connected to the main tree, and how many categories have been applied. 

(One that last measure, I figure that most people should have two to three categories at minimum: place of birth, place of death, and the cemetery in which they were buried. For people who show the same occupation in two or more records [census, marriage, or death], I add an occupation category. And for those migrating ancestors who I've been able to track to a particular sailing of a ship, I add the category for that sailing. Notables, people who served in the military, and people who have been awarded some kind of recognition [like a Nobel Prize] would of course get still more categories.)

These spreadsheets have helped me keep track of how the profiles in each One Name Study are doing, and motivate me to try to improve the numbers for the next time I report on that study (which I am currently scheduling at the rate of one study per month).

So lately, I decided to make a similar spreadsheet for the profiles in my watchlist. As I'm going through my watchlist and documenting the profiles I manage, that is motivating me to source and orphan the profiles of people who aren't closely related to me (like cousins of spouses of uncles and aunts, or people whom I added profiles for in order to connect some unconnected notable).

For the Connectors Project, basically the Let others know what locations you are working on is my to-do list. I work through it, removing branches that have been connected and trying to make sure that there are at least five unconnected branches and two unconnected notables in each section, and then start over again.

by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (304k points)

So as I'm going through my spreadsheet for the Slade Name Study (which is the one I'm concentrating on this month) and tallying up sourcing levels, categories, and so on, I've come to realise that the Slades from the Slade Genealogy site,, and Wikipedia are in way better shape than the Slades in my own Watchlist who aren't from one of those other sources. 

That's probably because I've been working through all those other Slades for a couple of years now, looking for profiles that I can improve in one way or another to make the numbers improve. So adding my other Slades into the spreadsheet is turning out to be a good way to identify those profiles which need some TLC (which is most of them).

+13 votes

Organize? What's "organize?" sad

by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
Pip, I love your answer and I loved your Scan-a-Thon Selfie!
Great comment, Pip!
I put mine in a giant yellow envelope. Make sure the papers are creased and slightly crumpled, as well as general disarray. Make sure there are many coffee stains, and coffee mug rings on everything. Then I use barely legible hand writing. Send it to Pip. Then wash my hands of all responsibility. That way I can just use Pip as my scapegoat.

Example: "Hey Paul. Can you show me some more info on the Dupree family from Twiggs County Georgia?"

 I sip my coffee, scratch my lower left hiny cheek. Then I answer.

 "Call, write, or email Pip Sheppard. He keeps track of all my names, sources, and records. If you help him install  a retaining wall. With some nice petunias to accent the area. He will handle your business too."

Hasn't come back to bite me on my rump yet.

"Make sure the papers are creased and slightly crumpled, as well as general disarray. Make sure there are many coffee stains, and coffee mug rings on everything. Then I use barely legible hand writing."

Paul, have you been going through my desk?

Yes, I was just looking for loose change. Honest man. I was not snooping. Not me buddy. I didn’t score any change. But I did score a sweet feather pen. Of course, clumsy me. I dropped the ink jar.
+6 votes
Wiki tree is my organization method. It is where I put all the info i have. The exception is my cemetery study where I cross reference my progress with regards to the goals of the project. Then I use a spreadsheet of the data from the cemetery and update it so I can see which profiles still need work with regards to adding their profile, connecting their profile, adding pictures of their tombstone and transcribing the monuments.
by Gurney Thompson G2G6 Pilot (130k points)
+6 votes

I am more organized than I have ever been, and I plan on sitting in this rocking chair that belonged to my mother-in-law and continue becoming even more organized. My husband said that I should have taken a photo three weeks ago--after the Scan-a-Thon. The floor was covered with photos and documents then.surprise

by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (139k points)
edited by Alexis Nelson
+9 votes
Not sure. It’s pretty rare for me to use the word “organize” and “research” in the same sentence... those two words never seem to cross paths for me.
by Alex Stronach G2G6 Pilot (221k points)
Alex, I understand, I usually have note pads and pieces of paper with names and dates everywhere.
+5 votes

I began my research decades before going on-line.  


I use the ahnentafel numbering system, and I can't imagine doing without it.


I have one Word document for each direct ancestor on which I record everything I know about the person, including how I first found the information.  I've become more careful and detailed about doing this as the sources have proliferated, but am not caught up.  


In my computer I also have one folder for family information for each ancestral line.


Also, I have a tree on Ancestry, and have added my direct ancestors to WikiTree, which I hope provides some backup in case of some catastrophic loss of my files.


Old family photographs and other important documents are now all scanned and uploaded to both WikiTree and Ancestry, for the purpose of sharing as well as preservation.

by Julie Kelts G2G6 Pilot (169k points)

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