Sunday, May 11, 2014

SLCC Genealogy Course: Post #31 - Geographic Research Binder

We are nearing the end of this semester's Salt Lake Community College, Genealogy CourseGen 1010: Introduction to Genealogy. We have gone over all the different record types, learning how to locate, use and record them, then analyze and create various reports from our findings.  For this week's assignment we needed to complete our Geographic Research Binder. After that comes the final project.

The geographical area I selected back in Lesson 3, was the Mid-Atlantic region. It includes: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, plus a General United States section. In reality I have only been researching in the New York area because this is where my family has lived since before the Revolution.

During this course the only time the Research Binder was mentioned was in Lesson 3 . The recommendation was to create the Research Binder in electronic format, using word files, Dropbox, or Google Drive. I decided to create mine using Evernote.  I just figured it would work better there because it would be totally searchable, easily accessible, and contain live links to take me anywhere I wanted to go.

Throughout the semester I have been adding to the Research Binder anything that I found helpful in doing research in New York State. I figured Lesson 3 couldn't possibly be the only time we would work on our Research Binders.  I was right to suspect we would visit it again.  For this week's assignment we needed to submit a Research Binder which included information on different record types, sample documents, timelines, key websites, handwriting help, etc. for each of the states in our region.

Originally, I just set up notebooks inside of Evernote. I had one for each state in my region, plus a general United States notebook. I stacked them under a main notebook called Mid-Atlantic Research Binder. In all honestly, I did not setup Evernote Tags to assist with organizing my binders, because I didn't understand fully how it all worked. It was working just fine having separate notebooks and just doing a simple search by keywords to find whatever I wanted. I decided now was the time to investigate tagging in greater detail. I am so glad I did.

Before I went any further with my binders I established rules for myself in setting up my tags. I didn't realize you could have different layers of sub-tags under a main tag. Once I discovered this ability my organizing took on a whole new level. In fact now I realize I could have just had one notebook as a Research Binder and used the Tags to manage everything.  The only issue I ran into was that the tags in Evernote have to be unique, so no two tags could have the same name. I overcame this challenge by putting the postal code for the state, before the category (NY-Probate).  Here's a screen shot of one of my states sub-tags.

The beauty of tagging vs. notebooks is a note can have multiple tags, so it's can be "filed" in multiple locations. While a notebook is static. You can begin to see the US General tag underneath it. Here are the rest of tags.

To my delight as I was tagging in bulk I discovered that this new PC version of Evernote can create a Table of Content. In this next screen shot in the very top left is the actual notebooks making up the Research Binder. Below the Tags section you will see the Research Binder highlighted, the note displayed on the right is the main table of content. I have individual table of contents by state too.

One place I gathered materials from was the FamilySearch Wiki. It was so easy to Clip to Evernote my frequently used wiki pages directly to the Research Binder. If I had more time I would have been more specific on the naming of my individual notes so the Table of Content would have been better laid out, but it still works.

I snipped a lot of pages from various websites to make up the notes inside of my Research Binder. Over time I am sure I will fine tune this. Clipping also gave me a quick way to get material into my Research Binder on the four states in my region that I had nothing on. As these websites change in the future it will be so easy to just Clip to Evernote the pages and simply delete the old version.

When I was done gathering all the required items for the assignment I then needed to submit it. That was a challenge. I found out that you can't share a stack of notebooks. I could only share one notebook at a time with my instructor, Kelly Summers.  When I looked back at the shared notebooks I found the whole tagging system didn't appear the way I wanted. You could only see what was tagged on the individual notes. I finally decided to just submit the screen shots you see in this article. Kelly told me it worked just fine for her. I got 100% on the project so that was wonderful news.

This was a great project. Not only do I have a functional Research Binder, I also learned a lot more about Evernote. I already know there are more categories or tags I want to add to this Research Binder and fortunately that will be easy to do. Having my Research Binder inside Evernote means my genealogy life just got a whole lot easier.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!


Julie Johnson Brinkerhoff said...

How did you organize your Evernote like you did? I know you can't do stacks within stacks but it looks like you did.

Renee Zamora said...

The first two images in this article are showing my Tags and not the notebooks. With Notebooks you can only have a stack and put individual notebooks inside of it. The Tags can actually be stacked within stacks. You create a new tag and then drag n drop it on top of another tag. It can go several levels down. I've tested stacking tags 6 levels down now and I think it can keep going. So far I haven't read that there is a limit on how many levels you can stack.