Manage your research with Evernote and tags

Evernote is an amazing tool for managing genealogical research. With Evernote you’ll not only have all your research with you wherever you go, but you can have any item of information in front of your eyes in just seconds.

Forget folders for each surname and duplicating records when multiple surnames are involved. With Evernote you only need one notebook. Mine’s called Family Research. Everything from clipped web pages to notes to digitized records and photos are stashed in that one notebook.

My Family Research notebook in Evernote

I do  have a couple of standards – for naming notes and choosing tags – but even when I fall off the wagon, Evernote compensates for me. The keys to my organization are tags and searches. Instead of copying a document into multiple surname folders, I only have one copy with tags for each surname associated with that record. When I search for a surname, Evernote will display every record tagged with that name.

Clipping a record in Ancestry

Likewise, my workflows for capturing information are quite simple. For records in online archives, I’ll first capture the transcribed record along with the source information then use Evernote’s Web Clipper sheet to adjust the note’s title to my naming convention, choose the appropriate notebook and add any necessary tags. If there is an image of the actual document, I’ll download a copy to my computer then open the note I just created and drag the image to the bottom of that note. If I want to add notes of my own, they will be entered above the clipped information so I’ll see them right away when I open a note.

Notice that I use the surname:mcclellan format for surname tags. I’ve done that because my families frequently use surnames as middle names. By adding the surname: prefix, I can then create searches that will only deliver a note when it matches a surname.

In addition to the web clipper, I use the Scannable app on my iPhone for loose sheets of paper, pages from books and news clippings. When possible, I’ll also scan any source information – like title pages in books – to include in the note.

I have a growing collection of Notes: and Todo: notes. The family name or topic related to each note follows the colon in the title. They are full of reminders, what-ifs, contacts and other miscellaneous stuff.

Searching the surname:chase tag in the Family Research notebook.

Here’s where things get real interesting. This is a search of my Family Research notebook looking for notes tagged with the surname:chase tag. It found record notes (census, death certificate, obits) and the Notes: note for that family.

Now look up at the Search sheet that appears just below the search box. The upper area defines what part of my notes will be searched. The next section displays several recent searches. I can click any one of them to rerun that search. The bottom section is a collection of saved searches. Creating a saved search takes a little time, but they are worth the effort. Right now I’m working the Barker, Link and Worth surnames so clicking the appropriate saved search gives me everything I’ve got on that surname. Saved searches come and go with my research efforts at the time. Those saved searches are available on any of my devices – and a lot easier than trying to fat-finger a search string on my iPhone when I’m in a hurry.

Thanks to Evernote I can take a monster collection of research notes, records, clippings and images with me just about anywhere – and do it without paying for extra baggage. Even better, I get to the information I need in just seconds. Ain’t technology great!

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