Pocket Your Research

We family historians spend a lot of time on the Web looking for information about our ancestors. There’s plenty out there to find so what happens when you do find something? For years we have been taught to capture and/or save the discovered data with some kind of naming convention so we can find it when we need it. It’s been a very good system but often it is a slow and tedious process. Then Evernote came along, making it much easier to capture, save and organize online data. Now we have another option – Pocket. It doesn’t have all the whistles and bells that Evernote has, but it doesn’t have the learning curve Evernote does either. And, it’s quite affordable.

Right now over 14 million people are using Pocket to save articles, pictures, web pages and even videos found online.


In this example I have captured a two-page spread from a book I found at Internet Archive using the Firefox web browser. All I did was click the Pocket icon in my browser’s address bar. Not only did Pocket capture the screen area I selected, it also displayed a panel with an empty tag field along with suggested tags for this capture.


Pocket uses tags to help organize the things I capture. Every capture becomes part of my Pocket List. Once Pocket is installed in my browser, I also have a list icon in my desktop’s toolbar. Click it to display the menu shown above. In addition to a list of my recently captured content I can view all the content saved in my Pocket list, display any bookmarks I may have set in each content item, display the history sidebar and even see which items have been synced to my mobile devices that have Pocket installed.

In the examples above, I am capturing content using the Firefox browser with the Pocket add-on installed. You can see the Pocket icon at the right side of the address box. When you click the bookmarks icon, Firefox displays a menu that includes a link to view your Pocket content. Click it and you are immediately taken to your Pocket list viewing the most recent additions.

Pocket collection
Captured items displayed in Pocket

When you visit your Pocket account, you will see your captured screens displayed with the most recently added captures displayed first. Click on any item to display the entire article. Some may look a bit strange – like the Old Dixie Highway photo from Flickr. Your display depends on how the originating site designed it. When you click to display the entire item, you will see the entire article. In the Flickr example, not only will you see the photograph, you will also have all the rest of the Flickr photo screen information.

You can keep captured content in your Pocket account as long as you want. For example, the RootsTech announcement item serves as a reminder to check it out. Once that’s done, I will delete these entries. On the flip side, the article about Mary Lucinda Hunter has information about one of my ancestors. It will stay here until I have time to evaluate the information, add it to my research notes and document the source. I may even share it with one of my research cousins.

Pocket is delightfully simple but you will quickly find that simplicity hides an impressive tool for managing more than just research. Whenever time is short but you want to “hold on” to that article, photo or news story until you have time to do more than just scan the headline, Pocket will capture and hold it until you are ready.

Pocket is free to use and there is also a premium edition ($49.99/year) which includes features like full-text search, suggested tags and a permanent library. There are free Pocket apps for iPhone and iPad and a number of platforms – like the Feedly newsreader – that also support Pocket.

To learn more, visit Pocket at https://getpocket.com.

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