Digital Organization

When I first started researching my genealogy, everything was on paper. I had notebooks, scraps of paper, and photocopies of records. I’m terrible at organizing paper records; I was always losing things.

My digital practices have evolved over time. At the beginning, I used software that lived on my Mac. It may have been some version of Family Tree Maker, I actually can’t recall. Once I signed up for my first Dropbox account, I started saving all of my notes there in various formats: Word, Pages, Plain text, Rich text and PDF. As you can imagine, this was a problem when it came time to search for things.

Now I have most of my data in TNG hosted on a Dreamhost account. It’s the best solution I’ve found for managing trees and exporting to gedcom. I still struggle with the idea of notes, however. In TNG, there is a notes field, but I don’t really like the UI and I also don’t know if it’s the most efficient in terms of searching.

I’ve tried to move all of my genealogy notes into Evernote and that just didn’t feel right, either. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Evernote and use it on a daily basis for work. I take all of my work notes in it, as well as copious web clippings. I love that it syncs across all of my devices. But for genealogy notes I want something that feels more like a notebook crossed with scratch paper.

As an avid Mac Power Users listener, I’m interested to see what David Sparks concludes in terms of using tags. I have a feeling that may be the direction I am heading in. Theoretically, then it won’t matter which file type I use—as long as I’m using the same tagging consistently—I should always be able to find what I need.