Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Why I am getting organized? and how features of Family Historian have helped.

At the Beginning of the Year I published a post on my blog about how I am trying to get organized see [].

From the popularity of the Facebook group, The Organized Genealogist,  I am not the only genealogist who is trying to get organized, or become more organized.
If you are a professional genealogist then of course it makes financial sense to be organized.
If like me you are a hobbyist then you probably have much less time to spend doing genealogy, unless you are "retired" you will likely have at least a part time job and family commitments that can also take up much of your time.

So why should I get organized

  • I have limited time to research so I want to make the most of what time I have.
  • If I am organized I can find items I want easily and quickly.
  • When others ask about relatives I have in my online trees I can answer their queries in a more timely manner. 
    • I have a lot of people in my WikiTree [] and most of them need updating or the sources need cleaning up. Not everyone is properly sourced.
  • I do not want to duplicate my research. 
    • How many of us have at some point wasted time researching something/someone we have done previously. Have you got duplicates in your files?
    • This is not to say we should not go back and repeat something where we had a negative result on an online database. Online databases are regularly adding new records and can be worth searching on a regular basis for those brickwalls.
  • I have a lot of paper records some are original records, others just copies or printouts. 
    • I need to get these onto my computer so that I do not overlook anything they contain.
  • I have numerous photographs. If I scan and add metadata to the digital files I will know who is in these photographs and when they were taken. 
    • As my older relatives may be the only ones to know who is in some of the older photographs I need to make this a priority before it is too late.
  • I have upgraded from Custodian 3 to Custodian 4 [] . I have spent money on this upgrade and should make sure I spent this money wisely. It now has links to the media which was why I upgraded. 
    • Whilst Family Historian [] links to media from individuals and sources Custodian is useful for those records you have not had chance to fully analyse or where you are not entirely sure where they fit in the tree.
    • Custodian is a useful program for anyone doing a One Name Study[] or a One Place Study[].
  • I have also upgraded to Evidentia 2 [] and as I am keen to make use of this program to analyse my sources I need to be able to find all my sources easily.
  • Finally starting later this month I will be involved with MGP Study Group 2 [] I want to make the most of this opportunity and be ready to apply what I learn from sharing with others.
Let me tell you a bit more about how some of the feature of Family Historian have helped me with organization.
I have decide to go along the line of colour coding for the various lines of my tree which can be best illustrated by the fan chart below.

As a backup and for quick reference I have started, what some might consider a backward approach, by adopting a card index for basic family information using the same colour scheme (pink cards as no red available).
I have also used another facility available in Family Historian which is the named list.
Named lists can contain any record in the main record tabs of the program 

and notes can be added to each item in the list. The list report will show each of the notes added as illustrated below this report can be printed in various formats and allows the information to be sent to another device.

All the software programs I use have some powerful features many of which I have either not discovered or not used to any great extent. But as the volume of documents I have collected has expanded, I find that understanding what I am using,  and what features are available is becoming increasingly important. 
Do you use all the features of your software to assist your research? 
Could you benefit from understanding it better?
I attended a course on Family Historian for those with some knowledge and learnt that although I new a lot I was not an expert. If you get the chance to learn from others do so. It always helps to analyse why you are doing something and could you do things better.

A few ways in which you can learn from others from the comfort of your own home for free.
Google Hangouts or Hangouts on Air to view live, which may be available to view later on You Tube.
Genealogy Webinars see the calendar here
Geneablogs which you may not be aware of have a look here

But you cannot beat the chance to speak to other like minded genealogists so if you can make it to a local fair, conference, jamboree or whatever they call it where you live then this will pay dividends.
Sharing and collaboration have always been part of being a family historian and even in these days of increasing online resources no one is an island. Make the most of others knowledge and above all enjoy yourself.

Next time I will discuss how I applied what I learnt at Hack Genealogy Boot Camp


  1. Great post! My focus for the beginning of this year is to get all my papers and my genealogy files in order. This is not an easy task and I commend you.

  2. Great to see someone else with a similar set up to me - I use Custodian to store my names and then Family Historian to log families and relations as part of my personal genealogy and one name study. I'm now off to investigate the media options in Custodian 4! Looking forward to more tips in the future.

  3. Wow, this is impressive, best of luck with all. Great post

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I totally agree with your comment about going back and repeating something where there was a negative result. This is just as important with 'paper' resources as it is with online databases. In card indexes that are supposedly alphabetical by name, incorrectly filed cards may later be moved to their correct position. The first version of an index may have many errors and omissions, and a later version may be more complete and more accurate. Classic examples of this at Queensland State Archives are the indexes to mineral leases and the indexes to wills up to 1900, where the error/omission rate in the original (unchecked) indexes was up to 30%. And I once missed an entry in the big volumes at the Principal Probate Registry in London, but found it the next day when I was not so tired!

  6. Hilary, You have highlighted the benefits of learning about the features of our software and using them fully.

    Having just done about 7 workshops on the Family Historian program with Jane Taubman I realise just how much I didn't and don't know about that program. I was so impressed with Jane's teaching and the functionality of the program that I am ready to praise FH from the rooftops.

  7. I am so impressed with your organizational plans. As a former librarian, I like to think I am an organized person. But I am well aware that sometimes I can rush into research, so desperate to find that vital piece of information, that , do not take careful, detailed notes. and yes, find myself going back to records I have previously looked at. I do think it is important, though, to review earlier findings that you are slightly suspicious about. I have an example in my own family, where I am now questioning some results of my early research.

  8. Great post, Hilary! I don't use FH, but I love your idea about colour-coding the different branches of the family. Simple but brilliant.

  9. I could do with some organizing here too.

  10. Very Informative on how to get Organized. Helpful Tips. Thanks for sharing how you do when you have little time and to replicate.

  11. This is something I really need to do. I am so easily distracted by messages I get from newly found cousins, or books I've ordered about a member of the family or some other related topic. I'm always zooming off in new research directions and lack the discipline I need to finish what I'm currently working on. Several months ago, I started writing detailed research notes. It slows me down, but makes it so much easier to pick up the research in progress when I return to someone I abandoned because of a distraction.

  12. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent information I was looking for this information.

    Thin Clients & Zero Client


Hello, thanks for leaving a comment on the World Wide Genealogy Blog. All comments are moderated because of pesky spammers!

Best wishes
World Wide Genealogy Team