01 December 2010

Wisdom Wednesday - Genealogy Software Note Fields

I'm always surprised by the number of people who tell me that they have genealogy software but they don't know how to use it.  Now how much sense does that make?  To me... not much.  Anyway I'm a firm believer is making your software work for you.  You paid for it,  so why not put it to good use?

One of my favorite parts of my genealogy software is the note field.  Seems from what I get when I talk to people is that most people focus on using just the facts and nothing more.  Sort of like Sargent Friday from Dragnet...  "...just the facts mam.."   But you miss out on so much more when all you focus on is the facts.

Things I have in my notefields -
  • Recipes
  • Holiday stories & memories
  • Emails
  • Theories & suppositions
  • Newspaper articles
Now, I know at least one person who uses the notefields as a "timeline" of sorts, with all the facts lined up chronologically in the notefield.  Works for them.  Although I am a big notefield user its not in that respect.

Although I use the notefields for my facts, I also LOVE the general notefields as well.  There I put things that I don't really want to make a fact for.  Over the past few years another researcher & myself have been working on disproving/proving the identity of a female ancestor.  The emails that we exchange, complete with dates (only those that discuss this topic) are copied & pasted in the general or research notes on this lady we are researching.  Saves me from having to go and find the notes, clogging up my email box or printing them off and storing them.  I make sure that the emails have only pertinent information and I include dates etc.  No matter where I am, if I have my file I am good!

I also have many of my grandmother's (both maternal & paternal) recipes in their general notefields.  Always backed up, always safe!  I don't have every recipe in there, just the ones that when they went to family reunions or church socials, it was the most requested.  Hard to choose but I did. 

I also keep track of my research process.  When I ordered a death certificate, what I have looked at, what I found or didn't find.  Alot of software today offers a research journal as part of their package, it didn't work for me.  The note field does.  I also include my theories and thought processes regarding my searches in the notefields as well.  

Not much of my research or my software useage is based on how someone else does things. I tend to look for my own solutions, make things work for me and go from there.  The notefields for my facts are filled with much information as well.  Facts like newspaper articles, obituaries, Biographical entries & land deeds all have those items typed as found in the notefields.  When possible the image of the document is linked after being scanned. Maybe today would be a really good day to stop & look at just how much your software works for YOU.

Making your genealogy software notefields work for you - Its a very good thing!

Happy Researching!


Liz said...

This is a great idea, Karen! I use the notes field myself, but not to the extent you suggest. I love the idea of copying e-mails to the notes field - I never thought of doing that! And my inbox can use all the help it can get! I just got FTM 2011 and I am in love and I want to use it to its fullest. Thanks for posting this.

Michelle Goodrum said...

Great post! It gets you thinking.

Greta Koehl said...

I also use my note fields "to death" and copy most of the information I have in Word documents to them.

TCasteel said...

I agree. I purchased the Master Genealogist just so I can put 'everything' I find, all the little notes and tidbits, into my database. Other programs can do this also I am sure. It was just that the first two programs I owned were soo limiting to 'just the facts'.
Theresa (Tangled Trees)