Organising your research

Getting organized for my genealogy do-over

In previous posts, I have shared a database I set up to organize my genealogy research.  A month has gone by, and I haven’t made all that much progress, but I have made a couple of small adjustments to my database.

My document entry form now has an additional field: a yes/no field to indicate whether the document was a vital record or not.

vital record field

I found that it was taking too long to enter all the information from all the documents for each person, particularly when it came to the Electoral rolls and directories, where there are multiple family members on a page, and many documents for a person.  Since most of these came from Ancestry, it would be simpler to merge these into my tree on Ancestry.

I therefore decided that I would only add “vital records” to my new tree for now.   The vital records would include birth, death and marriage certificates, or indexes, cemetery records, family notices, and census records.  I therefore use the vital records checkbox, so that I can filter the list of documents for a person to only show those documents, so I know which ones to add to my tree. I have also added a column to my Individual Index to keep track of the people I have added to my Legacy Family Tree.

added to Legacy

This is one advantage I have already found using my database – I can keep track of all the documents I have for a person, without having to enter all the information into my family tree.

The other change is I am no longer using a separate database to check for missing electoral rolls, and track to-do items.  I ended up adding two more sheets to my Excel spreadsheet with the list of files: one sheet for my checklist, and another for my research log/to-do list.

My checklist is set up into three main sections:

A list of events, with the types of documents associated with the events:


A section with a list of available Electoral rolls – at this stage this is just for Victoria

Electoral rolls

And the third section for directories


My research notes sheet has 4 columns, Individual, comments, to do item, and repository:

research notes

My process for my genealogy do-over is:

  • Go through my file list, and pull out all the files for the person I’m working on.
  • Add all the documents to my database
  • Go to my Document index in my Access database (which has my list of vital documents), and pull out these files and add the information to my Legacy family tree
  • Synchronize Legacy Family Tree with FamilySearch FamilyTree, and copy across any additional sources from FamilySearch to Legacy, and download a copy for my own records.
  • Check Legacy Family Tree for any hints from FindMyPast, MyHeritage or GenealogyBank,
  • Update my Ancestry family tree, and check for any hints for that person, and attach those records to my Ancestry tree, and download a copy for my own records
  • Add the new documents to my database, and any vital documents to my Legacy Family Tree.
  • Use my Checklist spreadsheet and go through my “Check for missing documents” table in Access and determine which documents I still need
  • Either add these missing documents to the to-do section of my Research notes sheet for documents that aren’t available online, or I don’t have a subscription for, or do research online to find the missing documents
  • Add these additional documents to my database, and, if applicable, my Legacy Family Tree.  Once I am satisfied I have checked for all the available records for a person, tick that person off as checked, and added to Legacy.

My file list at this stage is just for the images.  Once I have added all the image files to my database and family tree, I’ll go back through all my old research notes, and add anything I don’t already have another copy of to my database and tree.

Background of featured image is a photo from Unsplash ( Photo by George Hiles