Create (or download) genealogy forms with Transpose

I think many genealogists (including me) enjoy forms. We collect data and we like to have a place to put it. I have been playing with a website that allows me to create forms willy nilly and I’m having a great time.

That website is Transpose. It makes it ridiculously easy create forms that you can fill out yourself or share with others via weblink. (So you could create a form to send to cousins, for example, and the answers would form a database in your Transpose account.) You can also publish form templates for others to download and customize for their own use.

I learned about Transpose via Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, who mentioned that she used Transpose’s previous incarnation, KustomNote, for creating contact forms that help her organize the many DNA-related contacts she receives.

Since creating my (free) account on Transpose, I have created a bunch of forms, including several genealogy-related templates that I’ve been using regularly.

I’ve made three genealogy templates public:

  • Genealogy conference notes (which was really handy when I was taking notes at the Southern Illinois Genealogical Society’s conference)
  • Genealogy task list (which is wear I’m keeping track of current projects, as I blogged about last week)
  • Genealogy abstract form (which I’m using to capture data as I abstract my ancestors’ Civil War pension files)

Please feel free to download them and customize them for your use. I’m sure I’ll be adding more–they’ll all be tagged Genealogy, so they’ll be easy to find when you browse public templates at Transpose.  All my templates are quite simple, but I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface of the power of Transpose. I look forward to getting into it deeper!

Oh, and of course, Transpose has an iOS app, so I can use it on my iPhone and iPad. (An Android app is in development.)

If you use Transpose and have any public templates, please let me know in the comments!


Keeping my research interesting

Keeping genealogy research interestingSince I heard Josh Taylor speak in early August, I’ve been really trying to keep a laser focus on my short research to-do list in an effort to keep from being distracted. My 30 x 30 challenge helped a lot. Since I didn’t give myself the option of not researching during that time, it was very helpful to just go to the list (which had me either transcribing one ancestor’s Civil War pension file or working on citations for another).

But here’s the thing: When my 30-day challenge was over, I took a little break, because processing those pension files started to feel a little like drudgery. And I was reluctant to go back to it. It made me realize that I need to change up the research from time to time if I’m going to do it on a regular basis.

As I pondered that, I saw the error of my ways. I took Josh Taylor’s advice to have one to three projects on my to-do list. (I had two.) But I skipped the part about also having three to five extended projects (brick walls) that I can dabble in when I need to mix it up.

So here’s what I’m going to do to keep my research interesting and, I hope, to get back to daily research: I’m adding one main project to my list along with five extended projects/problems. That’s my list pictured above.

I have a leisurely weekend ahead, so I’m hoping to enjoy doing some genealogy research. My revamped list will help!

How do you organize your genealogy data?

newpollI was perusing the Facebook group The Organized Genealogist today and was struck by the number of people who organize their genealogy data in binders. I wrote about the Folders vs Binders debate a couple of years and I fall soundly on the side of file folders over binders. The truth of the matter, though, is that these days I’m dealing almost exclusively with electronic files, so that particular debate is moot for me.

But it started me wondering how my readers organize their data. So I created a little poll. Would you please vote so I can see how you guys like to organize? Feel free to select as many answers as appropriate. And also, feel free to elaborate in the blog post’s comments.

Finally, there are some terrific comments in the poll itself. Click on Comments in the View Results page. All the commenters are right–it’s not about one method over another, it’s about how we mix it up!

OYFH’s top five posts

The readership of this blog had grown steadily over its three years of existence, so today I thought I’d list the five most-read blog posts in the event that new readers haven’t discovered them. Combined, these posts have been read more than 32,000 times. Have you read them yet?

Foil can make hard-to-read gravestones legible

Reading hard-to-read gravestones. I outline the aluminum foil trick I used to make illegible gravestones readable, like magic. With over 16,000 pageviews, this is my most-read post hands down.

This simple spreadsheet helps me keep an eye on who needs researching.Tracking progress. I created a spreadsheet that allows me to tell at a glance which important records I’ve identified for each direct-line ancestor and which I still need to track down.

My genealogy file cartAre you organized enough? In this popular post, I bring my experience as a professional organizer to the question, “What does being organized really mean?” And then I take you step by step through the process of becoming organized enough.

Top five OYFH postsFree family fan chart. Thank you, Google, for making this post so popular.  Martha Stewart did a post a few years ago on building a family tree that offers a free, downloadable family fan chart. This posts links to it. And that link is still live.

Are yoAre you backing up your genealogy data?u backing up your genealogy data?  I advocate a belt-and-suspenders approach to back up. In this post, I relay the sad story of a friend whose (non-genealogy) files were deleted by Dropbox.