Friday, February 5, 2016

Finally Get Organized with Evernote!

As I review the checklists from DearMrytle's Finally Get Organized!, I realized that I could use Evernote to help me to Finally Get Organized!

Ol'Myrt suggested that our digital files be organized like our "Binders". She also suggested that we start with our main surname or in my case, my maiden name for the first four generations (Me, my parents, my grandparents and my great-grandparents). 

Sometime last year, I purchased the book, "How to Use Evernote for Genealogy" by Kerry Scott. I had the best intentions, like many of us, to read this book and to utilized Evernote more for my Genealogy research. The book cover even hints at this with the sub-text of "a Step-by-Step Guide to organize your research and boost your genealogy productivity." However, that wasn't even enough for me to get beyond the first chapter of the book until DearMrytle's Finally Get Organized! Weekly series of checklists.

In chapter 3 of this book, Organizing in Evernote, gives examples on How to Use Notes, Notebooks, and Stacks for Genealogy. Even though her exact examples are not exactly how I need to organize my files to match my Binders, she leads me in the right direction.

Stack 1: Maiden name
   Notebook1: Me
        Note 1: my birth certificate
        Note 2: baptism certificate
        Note 3: my first holy communion certificate
        Note 4: my high school diploma
        Note 5: my marriage certificate
   Notebook 2: my parents
        Note 1: their birth certificates (I could have one note with both) or two separate notes for each
        Note 2: religious certificates
        Note 3: their marriage certificate
        Note 4: their death certificates
    Notebook 3: my grandparents
        Separate notes for certificates, pictures, documents and census records (to name a few)
    Notebook 4: my great grandparents
        Separate notes for certificates, pictures, documents and census records (to name a few)

Stacks and notebooks and notes can be sorted by Title, alphabetically or reverse alphabetical order. If you put a Period (.) infront of the Title, it will sort first, numbers are sorted next and finally, letters. So when you are working on a certain Stack surname, just change the title to include a period (.) and it place it on top of your list of stacks, where you can find it quickly. When you are done working on that surname, just remove the period and it will sort alphabetically by surname. Number your notebooks to help organize them in the order you want, or label them Generation 1 - Me, Generation 2 - my Parents. You can always use actual names instead of Me or my Parents. Start off your notes with the year, and your notes can be sorted chronologically. Now you have created a timeline for each generation with little or no effort.

Did you know that you can take pictures of your existing notes? When you photograph documents, you unleash the power of Evernote's indexing for you. They will become searchable based on the text in the photo. How cool is that? 

Plus creating notes is no harder than using your existing wordprocessor. You have different fonts and sizes, colors, bold, italics, underline, highlight. You can even create tables for Research and Correspondence  logs. Remember, all these become searchable. Instead of separate documents on your computer's hard drive, that you rely on naming conventions to find what you are looking for, you just type in a search word or phrase. Plus if you tag each note with a special phrase or keywords to add additional search words that is not found in the actual document or note, those notes can be search on those tags too. Think about adding a woman's maiden name as tags to documents that only have their married name in them. 

Notes can be a collection of other notes, they can contain multiple pictures or documents. The only thing to remember is that you need not exceed the 25MB note size for free accounts. Paid accounts increase their note size.

One of the most important features of Evernote is that it can be sync across multiple devices. This means I can carry all my genealogy files with me, all the time. Since I have Evernote on my iPhone, I can access my files wherever I have a phone signal. Paid accounts can get offline access on mobile devices if you think you will be someplace where there is no phone signal. 

There is so much more I can do in Evernote to Finally Get Organized! And I will try to cover those later, because right now I am going back to work on my first four generations of my surname in Evernote.