I have to admit I have been a slow adopter of Evernote. In 2013 and 2014 I posted here about how I wanted to give Evernote a(nother) try to help me organize certain aspects of my genealogy research. Well, it’s two years later and I’m happy to report that I am actually using Evernote to help organize a bunch of things in my life, including certain aspects of my genealogy research. I’ve become a big fan, though no one would describe me as a power user.
I thought it might be helpful to some people for me to describe how I’m using it for genealogy. Before I do, though, I want to emphasize that this isn’t the best way or the only way to use Evernote. It’s just the way I’m using it. And it will no doubt evolve.
So here’s a source list of ways I use Evernote in my genealogy life:
- Research log. I have a very simple template in Evernote in which I jot down what I’ve researched that session. Full disclosure: I don’t do it each and every session; I just do it when it feels right. Evernote makes it very easy.
- Genealogy task list. I have a notebook (in my Genealogy stack) called Genealogy clues/puzzles to check out. That’s where I make note of the things that come up that I don’t want to explore at the moment. I helps me stay focused on the task at hand.
- Source documentation project. As I described last month, I’m systematically reexamining all my sources in Reunion, verifying them, checking citations, ensuring that I’ve gleaned all the information I can out of them and adding images of each source to the citation. I keep the list in Evernote and check it off as I go.
- Keeping track of resources. I have a notebook called Genealogy resources where I clip interesting websites. Do I go back and look at it a lot? Not so much. But when I do there are usually some treasures in there. And clipping it means I don’t have to try to remember it, which frees up my mind.
- Genealogy travel. When I’m planning a research or cemetery trip, I keep notes about hotels, logistics, things to remember to pack, etc.
- Blog post ideas. I jot down ideas for this blog and my organizing blog when they occur to me. I consult it when I don’t know what to write. Which is quite often.
I don’t store my genealogy research in Evernote. After the 2015 National Genealogical Society meeting where I heard a detailed talk on using Evernote for genealogy, I briefly tried storing images of the genealogy documents I’d downloaded (census records, vital records, etc) in Evernote. I abandoned that as too labor intensive (though I can see the sense in it because it makes those documents exquisitely accessible). Instead, I attach those documents to the source citation in Reunion on my Mac.
In short, Evernote has become indispensable to me. It’s my go-to place to store and retrieve all manner of things (and I use it a whole lot for non-genealogy purposes as well). I pay for the premium version, so that I can access it when I’m not online. The price for the premium version just went up from $50 to $70 a year. I like it enough that I didn’t even consider not renewing because of the price hike.
Evernote is such a robust platform that I know I could be taking better advantage of it. And in a year I might be using it entirely differently. But right now it’s meeting my needs quite nicely.
How do you use Evernote for your genealogy research?