Genealogy Do-Over: An Update after Traveling

Okay, so lets just get down to it. There were a few things I made sure to do before leaving for Florida in February. I knew I was going to be staying for 2 months and that I wouldn’t have any paper records with me.

The Prep

The first thing I did was scan all the remaining documents in my “Binder Indexes” file. I wanted to make sure that I had a digital copy of everything that was listed on that index. Who knows what could happen while I was gone? I might need them for information. There might be a fire and I lose everything. Someone could breaking into my house and steal all my genealogy documents. You never know!

My Binder Index Excel File

Next was the question of how do I access what I need from 1000 miles from home. One option was to move all my digital files over to my laptop, but I didn’t want to go that route. Another option was to move things onto a flash drive. Those are so vulnerable to damage and loss, especially with traveling, so I nixed that idea. The best option for me ended up being my cloud storage through Microsoft. Our family shares a 365 subscription, this gives me 1 TB of storage included in our subscription. This involved moving my family file to the cloud and then copying all my document files and pictures over.

My Work Flow

You might be wondering how my workflow functioned not only in a travel setting, but in a laptop setting. I can report back to you that it worked WONDERFULLY. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how functional it was. When I had the time to sit down and work on something, I knew exactly where I was, and I had the flexibility that I didn’t have to completely finish working with a record in one sitting. Obviously that would be ideal, but in a household with newborn twins it just wasn’t practical!

If you look at my Binder Index file, the basis of my workflow starts there. My first column is Downloaded/Scanned. When I’m working with digital files, I start by saving a copy of the record or picture to the folder of everyone involved. If it’s a physical record, I scan it first and then save it to the corresponding folder(s).


The second step is really important for me in my Do-Over, that is to enter my information into Evidentia. I am not analyzing data as I go through it, I am just entering it. I only analyze evidence after I have completely entered all documents for a person and their parents. It didn’t make much sense to be constantly going back over things when I’m entering so much information right now. This allows me to see a more complete picture at one time.

Entering Information in Evidentia

It was very common during my Florida trip for me to have to get up either in the middle of entering information or after finishing. It might be hours before I could get back to it. Once I finish entering information into Evidentia then I enter ‘Yes’ in the Excel box under the Evidentia column.

After Evidentia is when I enter the information into my family tree program. There was a time when I had Evidentia later in my workflow. Moving Evidentia up in my workflow allows me to fully look at the record and see all the different claims before I put it in my program. This helps me to make sure I’m attaching the citations to all the things I’m entering into my program.

Entering Information in my Family Tree Program

Once I enter everything into my program, I move onto my Genealogy Log.

Genealogy Research Log
My Resesarch Log

Now all my boxes have been changed to ‘Yes’ in my Binder Index file, but I have more tabs to use in my Research Log. Once I’ve entered the information into my log, the record I just entered is listed on the Records Used tab. This tab isn’t 100% necessary, but it helps me to double check that I’ve entered things into Evidentia, my log, and my program.

Plan Tab

The Plan tab is probably the most changed tab in any of my files. There are conditional formatting rules set up on this tab and it’s basically a To Do List that I use to keep myself straight.

Plan Tab

Before I put the color code in the top row, I was relying on my memory of what each symbol meant. That wasn’t efficient at all, more time was spent messing with those boxes than actual work. When a proof point is entered into my Research Log, I go ahead and put an ‘X’ in the box. If I’m unhappy with the quality of my evidence for that proof point, then I put the ‘?’ which means more search is needed. If a proof point doesn’t currently apply to someone (marriage or death), then I put the not applicable symbol, ‘!’. I do have columns for Ancestry Tree, FamilySearch tree, and Find a Grave. If I’ve synced my information with either of the tree sites, then I put the ‘X’.

For living individuals, I don’t add their information to my online trees. I have been adding a picture and their names, but I mark them as living so only I should see that information. I mark that in the file with the ‘@’ symbol. That shows me I’ve entered them into all my databases but I’m keeping the information private. The last symbol is the ‘E’. This isn’t to mark that it’s entered in Evidentia, but that I’ve analyzed that proof point in Evidentia.

Analyzing in Evidentia

In Conclusion

Having this workflow ensured that when I was traveling my progress wasn’t lost or stalled. I was able to keep moving forward in the same way I was working at home. I might not have made a lot of progress, but the progress I made was quality progress. Who knew I’d be excited to move so slowly through my family tree!

This series of posts are based on the Genealogy Do-Over Workbook by Thomas MacEntee

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