This week we’re going to revisit two more early episodes of Elevenses with Lisa that will help you be more productive and organized no matter what device you using for your genealogy research. I’m bringing these episodes out from behind the Premium Membership paywall and making them available for free this week. These will be presented back-to-back as Live Video Premieres on my Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. Part 1 and part 2 of this short series can be found in episode 68. In part 1 we covered what makes us vulnerable to getting distracted, and how a research plan can help. In part 2 we talked about how to deal with BSOs (bright shiny objects!) In this episode 69 we will cover parts 3 (Mobile Organization) and 4 (Online Productivity Strategies).
How Alice the Genealogist Avoids the Rabbit Hole Continued…
Part 1 and part 2 of this short series can be found in episode 68. In part 1 we covered what makes us vulnerable to getting distracted, and how a research plan can help. In part 2 we talked about how to deal with BSOs (bright shiny objects!)
In episode 68 we covered:
1. Use a Cloud-Notetaking Service
Get a free Cloud note-taking tool and use it consistently. (Examples include Evernote, OneNote, and Google Keep.)
Use the website, software, and/or app to capture unexpected finds while researching. Both Evernote and OneNote work on all platforms.
Your notes in your account will synchronize between your devices (depending on the program and plan you choose.) You can add to your notes or work with them anytime, anywhere.
2. Schedule BSO Time
I use Google Calendar to stay organized and schedule my BSO time. Create a BSO calendar, and then schedule BSO time on your calendar. These will help you remember to follow up. Knowing you have set aside time in the future to explore the BSO helps you mentally let them go and stay on track with your research plan.
In this episode:
3. Mobile BSO Organization
Success comes from pairing your research plan and process with a great supportive research environment. We have a variety of “environments” we work within such as:
On paper at our desk
On our mobile devices
On our computer
Mobile Genealogy Organization
Let’s look at how we can set up a workflow for BSOs while mobile computing. My two favorite methods for capturing BSOs on a smartphone or tablet are 1) Cloud Notetaking, and 2) Home Screen “Bookmark Apps”.
Option 1: Cloud Notetaking
I’ll be using Evernote on an iPhone as an example. (You may see slight variations in the instructions depending on the service you use and your device.)
Evernote is a great choice if you want to easily sync and use your notes on all devices including your desktop computer and / or laptop computer.
Before you begin, you’ll need a free Evernote account at evernote.com. You’ll also need to download the free Evernote app from your device’s app store, and log into your account.
When you come across a BSO while researching online in a web browser (such as the Chrome or Safari app), here’s how to capture it:
Tap the Share icon on the web page.
Select Evernote from the menu. If you don’t see it tap More for the complete menu of available apps. If you still don’t see it, make sure you have downloaded the app.
Tap More to find the Evernote app
The app will open and should open a new note. Edit the note as desired.
Edit the BSO note
Tag the note with the “BSO” tag, as well as any other tags you find helpful.
Tag with the BSO tag
The note is now saved to Evernote. If you are on WiFi, Evernote will synchronize so that the note will be available from any device signed into your Evernote account.
The BSO tagged note
Option 2: Home Screen “Bookmark Apps”
Keep in mind that these aren’t the same as “Bookmarks” found in your web browser apps. I call them “Bookmark Apps” because they do save a particular web page, and they look just like apps. In the menu this feature is called “add to home screen.” (see image)
Bookmark Apps are best for when you plan to do your BSO follow up on the same mobile device.
How to capture a BSO as a Bookmark App:
In your browser app, when you come across a BSO web page, tap the share icon.
Tap Add to Home Screen.
Tap Add to Home Screen
Edit the title so it will be easy to remember why you wanted to follow up on it.
Tap Add (iOS – this may be different on Android, or different browsers)
The web page “bookmark app” is now on your home screen.
Once you have created at least two BSO bookmark apps, you can then create a folder.
How to create a folder:
Move the bookmark app by pressing and holding it until it shakes.
Keep your finger on it and drag it onto the other BSO bookmark. This will create a folder.
Name the folder “BSO”.
Press the home button to save.
Bookmark apps in the BSO folder
Now whenever you have some spare time you can tap the BSO folder and get back to one of those items that previously caught your eye.
How Alice the Genealogist Avoids Falling Down the Rabbit Hole Part 4
Creating a Supportive Computing Environment
The following tools are available for your computer desktop or laptop.
In addition to using Ctrl+Shift+T (Win) or Cmd+Shift+T (Mac) to restore a closed browser tab, you can also right-click on the new tab plus sign and select Reopen closed tab from the pop-up menu. You can do this multiple times and web pages will continue to open in the reverse-order that they were closed.
Turn Multiple Tabs into One and Save Memory with OneTab
Online genealogy research can leave you with a lot of open web browser tabs. While using multiple tabs allows you to jump back and forth between web pages and records, they can take up valuable computer memory.
You can dramatically reduce your memory usage with the OneTab extension available for both the Chrome and Firefox browsers. With one click, OneTab will combine your open tabs into a clickable list in one browser tab. You can even export the list for future reference.
Get OneTab in the Chrome Web Store here.
Get OneTab in the Firefox Web Store here.
Reduce Email Distractions
Gmail now has a Snooze feature which allows you to temporarily file an email until the date and time you select.
Snoozed emails will reappear in your Inbox at the scheduled time.
Retrieve snoozed emails at any time by clicking “Snoozed” in the menu on the left.
Get Back on Track with MyActivity
When you are signed into your Google account, MyActivity tracks the searches you conduct and the websites you visit. By visiting your MyActivity, you can search for and return to any previous activity. You can also turn it off. Go to MyActivity and click Activity Controls from the menu. Switch the slider to the off position. Visit MyActivity at https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity
Save Time by Previewing Your Google Search Results
Rather than clicking on each search result and loading the page (which also takes you away from the rest of your search results), use the Google Results Previewer web extension for Chrome. Once installed you can simply hover your mouse over a result link to reveal a preview of the page. Then you can decide whether to click through or preview additional results.
Click here to get the Google Results Previewer web extension for Chrome.
These family history video ideas and comments/questions sent in by Genealogy Gems listeners can inspire your own short videos. See how they script their stories, find royalty-free music soundtracks and more. Then visualize yourself in the director’s chair—what kind of...
“I read these [suggestions] but none of these were of any help with finding records on my grandmother[‘s parents]. The Social Security record didn’t list her father; as far as I can find there are no birth records for her where she claims she was born. Her father’s name isn’t on her death record because mom didn’t know what her grandfather’s name was. And her mom & ‘grandmother’ disappear from the Detroit city directory about the time she would have been born. They only show up again two years later for her grandmother and five years later for her mother. I put her ‘grandmother’ in quotes because that may be a sham: my grandmother’s mom worked for the other lady as a live-in servant.”
Lynn sounds a little discouraged! When typical record sources don’t reveal what we want to know, it’s often time to try two more advanced approaches: cluster research and DNA.
Applying Cluster Research to “Missing Parents”
I’m guessing Lynn has already beaten the bushes for ANY other records on grandma’s mom, especially marriage and divorce records. But I’m wondering whether she’s looked for other records about the woman grandma’s mom worked for. I don’t know the exact timing, but there was a huge migration to Detroit in the early 1900s. These two ladies could have been from anywhere. Chances are good they were from the same place, though. She’s definitely a “person of interest” to research. Records about this employer/grandma may lead to clues about her grandma’s own origins. So a first step may be for Lynn to research where the employer/grandma was born, and see if grandma’s family name shows up in the same place.
That concept is called cluster research, where you try to recognize little migratory groups and use other members of the group to learn more about your own ancestor of primary interest. It’s a concept I talk with Gems Editor Sunny Morton about in the November 2015 Family Tree Magazine podcast, which I host.
DNA for “Missing Parents”
The other avenue that it may be time for Lynn to try is DNA testing. Depending on which test she takes, her results may lead to common relatives on either side of her grandmother’s mother’s family. For example, if grandma had a full-blooded brother (which may be impossible to know for sure), a DNA test on one of his male descendants may point to the identity of the unknown grandma’s dad.
I recommended to Lynn that she check out our series of DNA guides written by our resident DNA expert, Diahan Southard. They will walk you confidently through the next steps in your genetic genealogy journey.
How to Get Started Using DNA for Family History Research
More Skills You Can Use to Solve Genealogy Mysteries
Sometimes you find yourself sorting through tons of people with the same last name to see which ones belong on your family tree. This surname research collection at FamilySearch can help you see what other researchers may have spent years compiling about thousands of family groups.
There’s a valuable free but much-overlooked online collection for surname research at FamilySearch.org. These are the family trees of nearly 3000 members of the Guild of One-Name Studies, who are studying nearly 9,000 different surnames. Their resources are strongest for the United Kingdom, where the Guild was founded, but you’ll find members all over the world.
What makes these family trees unique?
There are a couple of things that make these family trees unique:
1. These trees don’t just focus on a mostly-vertical line of ancestors for a single person. Members of the Guild collect everything they can about a particular surname and all its variants (hence the name of the organization). These efforts help organize and connect people with the same surname. Sometimes they help trace the origin of a surname. They can help people explore the variety of spellings and locations associated with different names.
2. These trees are often more fully researched and cited than your average online tree. The Guild takes pride in supporting its members in doing accurate, cited research; keeping their online databases updated; and responding to questions from others about their surname research.
Of course, always use caution when consulting others’ trees. Consider their content to be hints or suggestions until you prove them otherwise yourself. Scrutinize the sources they cite, many of which, say the Guild, aren’t available online elsewhere.
Explore the Guild Surname Research Collections
To explore this helpful free resource, follow the step-by-step instructions below:
1. Go to FamilySearch.org and click Search, then click Genealogies— not Records. (You may also click here to reach that landing page directly.)
2. Enter the surname of interest.
3. Click where it says All next to the Search button.
4. Select Guild of One-Name Studies.
5. Run the search. Click on search results to see:
A. The individual’s name, personal details and (scroll down) associated sources and citation details.
B. The individual’s place in a Guild family tree. Explore this family tree by clicking on someone’s name and seeing their information pop up to the left, where you can also click “View Tree” to see that person’s relatives.
C. Search for names within this tree.
D. This shows you what surname study the information comes from. In this case, you’re also given a link to a separate, associated website for that study.
6. Repeat to learn more about other surnames in your family.
More on Surname Research
If you are interested in learning even more about surnames research, read Social Network Your yDNA with Surname Projects by our own Diahan Southard, and learn how surname study organizations are taking their research into the 21st century with DNA surname projects.
Also, learn more about utilizing DNA in your genealogy research with these 10 DNA quick guides from Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard. They can be purchased in a bundle in either print or digital format.