Wednesday, April 20, 2016

OneNote and Genealogy

Over the past 6 months I have been getting back into my personal genealogy after a few year relative absence.  Part of this started when I was asked to speak to the Genealogy Interest Group of the Central New York Genealogical Society for February.  I was allowed to pick my own topic and since I have been using OneNote for my genealogy and wanted to figure out how to use it better, I chose that.   It turns out if you're going to present on something, having information for screenshots is a necessity, so I needed to update my database.

And I am so thankful that I did.  I began by looking online and seeing how other genealogists used it.  I already knew that Caroline Pointer had awesome videos on OneNote, so I started there and then started playing around.

Since over the past few years I restarted my genealogy by creating a new database in Legacy and re-entering all of my research to make sure it was properly sourced and that I wasn't missing anything, this became a continuation of that.  I adore Legacy and recommend it to anyone who wants to listen, but I don't like using it for proof statements, research logs, or research plans, so in 2010 I began using OneNote for this, but I still felt like I was missing something for both tracking and noticing [what should be] oblivious holes in my research.  I think I've finally figured it out.

Each of my ancestors now gets a page in OneNote under their surname.  On this main page, I created a timeline of their life.  These timelines have been eyeopening and I wish I had done this 10 years ago.

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They then get subpages for birth, marriage, and death, as well as one titled documents and one titled children.  Under documents, each document gets its own sub-subpage, where it is transcribed, sourced, and notes are made and I have a scan of the item.  Similar, under children, each non-direct ancestor child gets a sub-subpage with vital record and other pertinent information.  This last part is a recent addition as I was trying to figure out what to do with collateral relatives since I have done a LOT of cluster research.  I have to admit I wish for more subpage layers, but that's my biggest gripe with the program so far.

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I keep marriage records and children under the male, unless the wife married/had children with a non-direct ancestor and for other records, such as census, I place them under the head of household/main person listed.  With the ease of linking in OneNote, it is very easy to get to the page I want under different people as needed.

So far I've gotten through most of the records I have for my maternal grandfather's line (Casell/Casillo) and will hopefully be moving to my maternal grandmother's line by June.  All of this information is available to me whenever I have my laptop or an internet connection on another computer, which is fantastic for research trips.

Do you use OneNote for your research?  Let me know if you have any tips!


  1. I love OneNote for genealogy, but mostly it turns into a catch-all for random things I'm not sure what to do with. Thanks for some ideas on how to get things organized.

  2. Can you please clarify what goes on the Birth/Death/Marriage subpages? Thank you.

    1. I write a proof statement about when and where they were born along with who their parents are. Sometimes these are very simple and other times not so much. I make sure to source everything.


Back to Basic: July

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