Time-Saving Genealogy Tips: How I Keep My Research Log

By Diane Haddad


I’m on a pause in my genealogy research. Aside from the usual running after the kiddos, trying to keep up at work, and summertime family events, we’re packing up and moving our house.

One thing I’ve been doing is keeping my genealogy to-do list in a research log on Google Drive. Here’s what it looks like:

I include columns for the

  • Status: I can mark this to do, in progress or done
  • Research Task: a description of what needs doing
  • Repository/Site: I’ll include the name of the repository or website I need to visit or send a request to
  • Name: the name of the main person(s) named in the record, plus anyone else who should be included
  • Place: the city or town where the repository is located
  • Notes: any details that will help me find the record I need, such as places I’ve already looked, volume and page numbers found in an index, the repository website, etc.
  • Prep Work Needed: Anything I should do before I visit a repository or request a record goes here
  • Findings: Once a task is done, I can record whether my search was successful

I can access my research log on Google Drive from my home or work computer, as well as my phone. It’s sortable by any column, so if I’m visiting the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s (PLCH) well-known genealogy collection, for example, I can sort by the Repository/Site column and gather all the tasks that need to be done at PLCH—saving myself some time in the long run. Or if I want to see what needs to be done for my second-great-granduncle Frank Thoss, a Civil War veteran, I can sort by Name.

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