Genealogy Organization with Evernote



New Year-New Start with Organization

The start of a new year is a great time for all kinds of new goals-it’s a time famous for resolutions. One resolution that is no doubt on many genealogists’ to-do list is to get organized. This is often easier written down than done. Organization can be overwhelming and if left unorganized for long can seem an insurmountable task. But have no fear! There are many free apps to help you reach your organizational goals.

As anyone who has been doing genealogy for years or just beginning soon realizes, organization is a great help during researching. Knowing what you’ve already researched or creating a research plan is a great way to approach genealogy. Evernote <> is one app that can be extremely helpful when organizing research. This app (which works with computers, smart phones, and tablets) allows you to create notebooks and notes, much like folders and files, and is a perfect way to create research checklists as well as research logs. Evernote also has a website where you can access your information. The ability to sync between computers to phones and beyond gives the researcher more options and organization possibilities.

Nicole Pye



What Happened In Grandpa’s Lifetime? | Free Online Tool

I’ve written a few times about the importance of using timelines to better understand your ancestor’s life, the world in which he lived, and the records you’ve accumulated.  Timelines are an essential organizational and analytic tool.

One component of a good timeline are the historic events that occurred in your ancestor’s life.  Our ancestors no more lived in a historic, cultural, or technological vacuum than we do.  Their lives were often dramatically shaped by the world around them.

So, where do you go to find out what was happening “then?”

There are any number of great historical websites and reference books each of which you can glean a portion of the story whether it be wars, natural catastrophes, political events and so on.

But there is one very neat site that offers a one-stop shop for all historical events, and it can be customized to the life of your ancestor! is a wonderful free website, on which you can easily find yourself playing until the wee hours of the morning.

It’s a free site, no accounts, usernames or passwords are even needed.  So you can be up and running creating timelines in seconds.  Simply go to the home page ( and scroll down the page to the link at the bottom that says “click here” to get started.

Enter the name of your ancestor so it will appear on the top of the report.  Enter his or her birth and death years.  (You can make a timeline just for a period of his life, such as his War years, or his time overseas.  You don’t have to be limited to birth & death date parameters.)

Click “Generate Timeline.”  It’s that easy.  In a couple of seconds it will return with a customized timeline for your ancestor.  It will include historic events, “leadership” or who’s the President, King or other ruler, technology events, and disasters.


Further, you can create your own custom events, i.e. marriage dates, children’s births, military service, and it will weave those into the timeline.

With each event it creates for your timeline it will annotate the line item with the age your ancestor would be at the time.  For example, my dad was two years old when movies first had sound.  Neat.

Some of the events are underlined or hyperlinked.  If you click on that the site will take you to a further description of that event. Not sure what the Abyssinian War was all about?  Just click to learn more!

Finally, you can print a web page image of the timeline.  The printed version is in black and white, not techno-color like the website. The site provides directions under the FAQs.

Two Caveats

The site is really neat, but I do have a couple caveats you should be aware of.  I’m not a big fan of the black background and neon type faces.  It’s hard to read and looks a bit cheesy.  Secondly, it would be wonderful if this could be exported into an Excel file or csv format.  It would be a lot easier to work with the data.

But, for free, it is a great tool and fun to play with.

Try it out -

Happy Researching!

Beth Foulk

Classes Highlights

(classes taught by Twila Rider, from the Midwest Genealogy Center)

The Cloud
A cloud in the old-fashioned sense, like a fluffy pillow, hangs in the sky, and often-times is full of moisture that you can’t see, well beyond your imagination. A cloud in the new-fangled sense likewise is “out there” and can store information that you can’t see or conceive of unless you are enabled to hook into it. As long as there are servers with digital storage space, cloud real estate space can be almost limitless, like an endless parade of clouds in the sky. In this class Bob, a laptop computer, explores what clouds are in the technology universe and how they can help him to preserve and connect to information stored “out there.” Along the way he discovers what this can mean for his genealogy research, in the form of social networking, online file storage and sharing with others. Most likely, you are already using the “cloud” but do not realize it.

Hitting Genealogy Paydirt with Google and Friends

True/False:  In searching for family history, you won’t find much from a Google search.

That statement would be False! We often look in Ancestry. Familysearch and other genealogy databases, along with library book resources and don’t think about another great place to search. To leave no stone left unturned, there are search strategies that will uncover a lot in the Google domain.  There are parts to Google, such as Books, Newspapers, and more that you can use to plumb the depths of Google that don’t readily show up in a plain search.  Besides Google, there are other search engine “friends,” some of which are specifically genealogy-related to know about that can focus results with more specificity.  Don’t forget to Google!

Wikis for Genealogists

Not so long ago, when you wanted to find information about something, you would look in an encyclopedia.  Now we have the Internet and the World Wide Web where there are mountains of information about everything, way beyond what any encyclopedia book set could hold.  When we hit upon a “brick wall,” a genealogy term for “can’t go any farther with this.” we might think of consulting an expert, akin to an encyclopedia, to give us some new ideas about where to look.  With the internet, an “expert” is as close as knowing where to look to find the “expert”online, which can be in the form of a wiki.  There are several wikis out there that are very useful for genealogy research, and can help to point the way to new directions.  This class will briefly discuss what a wiki is, and then explore wikis connected with Ancestry, FamilySearch, and also a few others.

How to Date Old Photos

How to Date Old Photographs (links to class)

One weekend not long ago I went into an antique store and found some old photos that had names on the back and I just couldn’t leave them there so I purchased them. After doing some research I started finding them and one by one I uploaded the photos to Find-A-Grave. I find it incredibly sad that these once precious family photos ended up in an antique store but I’m not the only person who saves these wonderful items. There is a website called and those photos without names or “mystery” photos can be uploaded there. Someone may recognize the person and finally be able to view the likeness of their ancestor. These photos are a moment in time captured for us to enjoy and to appreciate, which is one of the many reasons I love what I do. In this class I will help you to understand the difference between looking at and looking into a photo.

A photo of my great grandmother came to me from a third cousin and I found myself in deep study of what she looked like and if I resembled her in any way. The expression on her face, the way she wore her hair, the style of her dress and with all of that wondering I went out on the internet and started searching to find out more about how to date clothing and hairstyles. Finding a date for a photo is really just as simple as that, asking a question and finding an answer, we as genealogists do that every day. This class will help give you some of the tools you need to date your photos.


Still struggling to record your genealogical research and organize your documents? Does it feel like you have tried every method and still can’t locate your research results without frustration? ResearchTiesTM is an innovative, new online research log that streamlines data entry and uses a multi-variable search engine to locate research results instantly!

ResearchTies allows users to record objectives and details of planned searches, as well as full citations and links to the research results. Libraries, websites, sources, names and places are added to the database only once, making them available to select with just a click the next time they are needed. You can even index your old family photos. Stop wasting time with duplicate data entry and slow or complicated retrieval of your research. Visit for more information.

Jill Crandell will present, “ResearchTies: Tracking your Research” at the Genealogy KC Conference in Kansas City on Saturday, March 22 at 11:45 am. Get to the conference that morning and learn how to save time and frustration. With the ability to open all documents related to a person in a matter of seconds, ResearchTies also facilitates analysis of your data. Learn how to improve your genealogical research with a quality research log—one that works for YOU. See you in Kansas City!


Keynote Speakers

You’re probably aware of our amazing keynote speakers and their scheduled keynote presentations, but did you realize that they are teaching several classes in addition to their keynote?  Be sure to check them out!

Juliana Szucs Smith – ( –  

A Dozen Ways to Jumpstart Your Research- (Juliana Szucs Smith – Every so often our research gets in a rut.  Here are some ideas to get that genealogical ox out of the ditch.

Coming to America: Finding Your Ancestor’s Arrival Record on – (Juliana Scuzs Smith –

Background on passenger arrival records as well as border crossings, and ways to identify your ancestors in these records.

Midwest Research on –(Juliana Szucs Smith –

An overview of Midwestern resources on and how to find what’s available for your state. (Although this class uses many Midwestern examples, many of the things we discuss can apply to other regions.)

What’s Next: Getting the Most from Your Discoveries –Keynote Address ( – Juliana Szucs Smith)

That record you just found may be holding the key to your next big find. Learn how to get every clue from the records you’ve found so that each new find helps guide you to another one.

Beth Foulk –

American Revolution Genealogy
 – (Beth Foulk) 
The War of Independence changed history; our history; our families’ history. It’s a story about which we want to know more. Did my ancestor help? …even a little? There’s much to be learned about our ancestors’ roles in this moment in history. In this class, we’ll discover where to start, what the best resources are, and how to tackle the research. So, let’s go in search of answers using the soldiers’ service and pension records and unit narratives.

The Best of Genealogy Book Websites
 – (Beth Foulk)  There are excellent free, published books online to aid your genealogy research. More than just “how to” books or lists of names, these books will add color, history, and context to your ancestor’s life. This class takes a tour of whole libraries and the books you’ll find online. Bring your family tree to life with online books.

Colonial Immigration:
The English Pioneers of Early America –  (Beth Foulk)
Imagine leaving everything you and your family has known for generations for an unexplored, unfamiliar, possibly hostile “New World.” Who were these people of unbounded courage, faith, and resiliency who ultimately laid the foundation for the America as we know it? What stories they must tell! What do the records reveal of their immigration, voyage and settlements in America? We’ll look at what history has left us in passenger records and alternative sources – both primary and secondary – to peel back this riveting portion of our personal and national history.

Secrets of Ten Records Groups
 – (Beth Foulk)  Going just beyond the basics, this class explores ten record groups. This content-rich class reviews in detail census, cemetery, vital records, military, city directories, land, probate, and more records. The audience will learn: 1) what you need to know about the records, 2) what information you’ll find in them, 3) and where to find the records.

When you create a personal timeline of an ancestor’s life, it is easy to see facts, relationships, and stories emerge that were never before apparent. This class walks discusses how to create a timeline and the many uses for them in genealogy research and analysis.


Kathleen Brandt –

**Leaping Over Brickwalls: 10 Tips to Fast Forward. (Keynote Address)  (Kathleen Brandt) – Based on a successful model to build ancestors’ life stories, this workshop offers 10 tips to effectively fast forward genealogy research. These techniques are applied when conducting celebrity and VIP client research for both NBC and PBS genealogy shows. Kathleen Brandt’s research can be seen on NBC TV series Who Do You Think You Are? Attendees will be given an overview of five (5) sets of records and research tips that will catapult their research.

Military Records Were Destroyed?  What to Do: Steps to Reconstructing Your Veteran’s File. (Kathleen Brandt) – This workshop gives the ABC’s of reconstructing your veteran’s military records. Details on the following tips for locating data will be provided.  Here are a few guidelines:

A Access all the information you DO have on your Ancestor and where to find it.

B Battles, campaigns and awards/medals can be uncovered in the Adjutant General discharge records of each veteran. Injured veterans’ information may also be found at the VA.

C Collection of 19 million final pay vouchers hold a wealth of genealogical information on each veteran. These vouchers were not destroyed in the file.

Sharing Our Ancestors: Being Bold – Beg-Adv – (Kathleen Brandt)

“Let’s keep our ancestors alive through booklets, scrapbooking, storytelling, quilts and more. This workshop offers ten (10) easy ways to share your ancestors to family and friends to keep them wanting to know more. The presenter will share ideas and provide tips to meet every personality.  Some ideas are rather unique, but great conversation starters. The goal is to ignite the love of ancestry with others. This lecture is offered to beginning to advanced genealogists.

Technology Toys for Genealogy Researchers

It’s All Portable!– Beg – (Kathleen Brandt) “Don’t leave home without your toys! Let’s share a few technology tools to have in order to make your visit to the homestead, cemetery, or library successful.”

Indexing Obituaries

The Rest of the Story: Indexing Obituaries


Most record types offer only the briefest glimpse of a person’s life: a name, a date, perhaps a relationship or two. But obituaries often give an extended look at the rest of the story, often including birth and death dates, birth and death places, an extended list of family members and friends, a summary of life experiences, and often even a photograph.

This year FamilySearch, together with partners, is digitizing and indexing millions of these fascinating records. In various collections around the country are hundreds of millions of obituaries, each summarizing the story of a human life, and some most likely containing information about your family members and ancestors. Most of these records are currently difficult to access. But our task is to make an index to them readily available in a searchable digital index and linked to actual images.

The goal this year is to index 100 million names from obituaries. It is an enormous project, but with lots of help, it will go quickly. The records are mostly printed or typewritten, so they are easy to read. It’s a great project to join, even if you can work on it only for a few minutes each week.

At GenealogyKC, come learn about obituaries, the great stories you can discover in them, and how to participate in this interesting project.


Class Highlight

Here are just a few of the amazing classes you’ll find at Genealogy KC 2014:

Researching at the Midwest Genealogy CenterThe Midwest Genealogy Center is the largest free-standing public genealogy library in the nation with more than 52,000 square feet of national and international genealogy resources for family history researchers. This class will include a virtual tour of the library and give an overview of both print and electronic resources freely available to you. Beginner or professional, come discover some hidden treasures and access your family history at the Midwest Genealogy Center. 

Secrets of Ten Records GroupsGoing just beyond the basics, this class explores ten record groups. This content-rich class reviews in detail census, cemetery, vital records, military, city directories, land, probate, and more records. The audience will learn: 1) what you need to know about the records, 2) what information you’ll find in them, 3) and where to find the records. 

Organize Your Genealogy: Get O’dGenealogy cannot be done effectively without being organized. A proven organization system is shown and explained in this fun, inter-active presentation. You’ll be saying “I can find anything in seconds!”

Using Social MediaFacebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+…which one should I use? How do I organize? How can I use it for my genealogy research? Come learn the answers to these questions and more! We will explore tips and tricks on how to navigate social media, the purpose for each platform, and learn to create engaging content.

County Histories Can Solve a Mystery - Learning about the historical context of our ancestors’ lives will help us to better understand what may have happened to them or where they might have migrated when we have lost them in the records. This class will discuss the variety of helpful information that can be found in county histories.

Follow Your Family’s Trail with Google Earth

Five years ago I started tracking down ancestors and sharing my research knowledge. My favorite way to present all my findings to my family, friends, any anyone wanting to know has been through Google Earth and all it has to offer. I have been using Google Earth for over 7 years both in family research and in the military.

Google Earth is a free computer software allowing you to see a 3D imagery of the globe. Using geographic information found in Deeds and addresses from sources such as Census data, you can visually document your family’s history. Taking a GPS to the family cemetery you can mark the final resting place of your family members. Google Earth has worlds (sorry for the pun) of potential ways to document and share your family’s discoveries in a fun and interactive way that all generations can enjoy.

Come check out this demonstration and discover some creative ways to tell your family’s stories, at the “Follow Your Family’s Trail with Google Earth” class offered at Genealogy KC!

Class Presenter:

Eric Stitt – I am 31 and married with two little girls. I have traveled the world growing up in the military and being in the military myself for the last 14 years.

This will be my second time attending the GenealogyKC conference and first time presenting at this conference. I had fun last year and learned so much that I couldn’t help but come again to share my knowledge. I am bringing some of my best research strategies and storytelling techniques all with the free computer software of Google Earth. I will be teaching both days and look forward to see you all again in March. In the mean time you can follow me at my blogs: