Has Evernote Made Research Logs Obsolete?

No, but it’s sure changed how I keep track of my research.

ResearchLog - Evernote Web Clipper

Evernote Web Clipper on the Mac. Click for larger view.

Thanks to Evernote’s updated Web Clipper on my Mac, I am able to add notes and annotate screen captures before adding it to my Family Research notebook. Yes, I only have one notebook for all my family research. I let tags and Evernote’s amazing search features handle the rest. I add tags for surnames, type of record, locations, events and whatever else I think describes this record. The comments section is a great place to include the notes I would normally add to a research log – what I was searching for, what I found and what I didn’t. Did a record generate new questions? That gets added in comments too.

I also download any original records I can. I’ll then drag those files and drop them onto the Evernote icon on my Dock. That operation copies them into the default notebook in my Evernote account. I’ll then take advantage of Evernote’s batch processing to quickly add tags and move them to my Family Research notebook.

Batch process makes moving and tagging easy. Click for larger view.

Batch process makes moving and tagging easy. Click for larger view.

Before I leave a search results screen behind, I’ll take a few seconds to capture it and use the annotation tools to point out what was useful and what wasn’t. In this example, I’ve captured the search parameters along with a page of results. I have pointed out which items in this screen were useful and which weren’t and I could easily add any notes that might be useful later.

Annotate search results tells me at a glance how useful this search was. Click for larger view.

Annotate search results tells me at a glance how useful this search was. Click for larger view.

Evernote automatically date stamps notes as they are created. The web clipper captures the web address of each item you capture. If I’m researching in a library, I’ll turn on location services and it will include that information in each note I create too. I’m getting in the habit of including questions, noting coincidences and other tidbits at the top of web clipped notes as I create them. I also maintain a note for each family group where I add questions, task lists and other useful information. There’s no formal procedure or format involved – just a place to capture questions/ideas when they happen.

A quick search pulls in everything I have about that topic/person. Click for larger view.

A quick search pulls in everything I have about that topic/person. Click for larger view.

How do I get away with this messy arrangement? Because it’s Evernote! When I want to see what I’ve got on a particular person or family, I head for the search box. In a split second, everything I have on the person, family, location, event or record I’m searching is right in front of me.

I’d much rather spend my research time researching and thanks to Evernote I can. The process of capturing, tagging and annotating an item gives me an opportunity to assess the value of each record. With Evernote, everything’s in one place so if a new record creates a need for a quick review of earlier research, that can happen in an instant. I’m really liking this!

4 comments for “Has Evernote Made Research Logs Obsolete?

  1. March 9, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Great post! I agree – Evernote has been great for helping me stay organized with my genealogy research.

  2. Diane
    March 10, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Is Evernote only for Apple products?

    • March 10, 2014 at 10:53 am

      Not at all! There’s an Evernote app for just about every computer and device known to man. Yes, I’m exaggerating, but Evernote works on Windows as well as Macs.

      • Diane
        March 10, 2014 at 12:03 pm

        Thanks, Denise!

Leave a Reply