17 Genealogy Things To Do If You Have Only a Few Minutes

By Diane Haddad

Sometimes life gets in the way, and you can’t find a decent stretch of time to sit at your computer or go to the library and do some genealogy. Our Sept. 30 webinar Weekend Genealogy Breakthroughs will show you 13 shorter projects you can accomplish in an evening or on a weekend.

In the mean time: 5 or 15 minutes might not be enough to delve into the life and times of your most stubborn brick wall ancestor, but it is enough time to do one of these quick genealogy tasks:

  • Check your tree and make sure you have a 1940 census entry for everyone alive at the time. For the missing ones, you can search the 1940 census for free.
  • Search the Social Security Death Index for US folks who died after 1962.
  • Run a Google Books search for an ancestor you don’t have much on.
  • Open mystery genealogy files on your computer, see what they are, and rename them according to a system. Now you know what the file is without opening it.
  • File the loose genealogy files on your computer desktop, or the papers on your actual desktop.
  • Write two paragraphs about an ancestor’s life.
  • Any relative you don’t have burial information for, search for him or her on Find A Grave, BillionGraves and/or
  • Transcribe a record into your family tree software (or wherever you keep record transcriptions).
  • Add to Great-grandma’s or another relative’s life timeline, using your family tree software or our free, downloadable Biographical Outline.
  • Read a few pages of a county or family history.
  • Check your favorite genealogy blogs for the latest news.
  • Call an older relative and make an appointment to visit and talk about family history.
  • Scan several photos.
  • Write a journal entry or blog post.
  • Share a genealogy find with your family on Facebook.
  • Think of all the crazy ways last names in your family could be spelled, and write them all down so you can try them when you search genealogy websites. We have a free Surname Variants chart you can download, print and fill out.
  • Tag photos in your photo-organizing software.

In Weekend Genealogy Breakthroughs: 13 Things You Can Accomplish in Two Days, Gena Philibert-Ortega will show you time-saving strategies to complete 13 essential genealogy projects, such as

  • formulating a research plan
  • finding and ordering Family History Library microfilm
  • searching free online books and newspapers
  • and more

Find out more about the Weekend Genealogy Breakthroughs webinar and get registered on Family Tree Shop.