Inspiration

Birthplace Pedigree Chart

I saw several of these charts posted on blogs and Facebook, which come from an original post by J. Paul Hawthorne.  So I decided to follow suit and have created birthplace charts for both myself and my husband.

I went to seven generations (including myself and my husband).  It was really interesting to me to look at the data in this way because it really confirmed for me some key things…

  1. My family has been in the United States for many generations, pretty consistently across the various branches of the family.
  2. My husband’s family has much more recent immigrant roots on his mother’s side of the family.
  3. I have more research to do to find the roots of my mother’s family.
  4. I have more research to do on my husband’s father’s side of the family – there are a lot of missing information about that branch of the family.
  5. My father’s family is pretty much Irish and German immigrants to the New York area (mostly Brooklyn).  Very strong roots in that region.
  6. My mother’s family is primarily from Georgia and Mississippi, with a little migration from Virginia and South Carolina.
  7. My husband’s mother’s family were all Polish immigrants (even though the birthplaces are variously Poland, Prussia and Germany).  I find it an intriguing example of how much the history of Poland has been dictated by the political history of Europe as a whole.
  8. My husband’s father’s family moved around a lot and their roots are largely unknown… They were primarily in the midwest (Missouri/Oklahoma), but it looks like if we go back a little farther, there may be more roots in the area of Illinois/Ohio/Pennsylvania.  They were definitely the more migratory of all the branches of our families.

My chart:

My Birthplace Pedigree Chart

My Birthplace Pedigree Chart

 

My husband’s chart:

His Birthplace Pedigree

His Birthplace Pedigree

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Papaly.com – Organizing My Online Bookmarks

First let me say – I have no connection to Papaly.com, other than I recently discovered the website and really like how I can use it to organize my online bookmarks.  I have tons of websites that I’ve bookmarked, but it almost becomes pointless at some point because it’s too hard to find anything.  And once it becomes hard to find a bookmark, I end up re-bookmarking websites, which just exacerbates the problem!

So I started looking for another solution and I found Papaly.com.  Here’s what I like:

  1. I was able to import my existing bookmarks using an HTML bookmark file that I exported from my browser (Chrome).
  2. I can create multiple boards, and then within the boards have multiple sub-boards by category to keep everything organized.

The one thing I didn’t like: it made itself my default new tab when I open a new browser window without asking me.  And finding the setting to change that was a little difficult.

So here is how I’m using it to organize my bookmarks:

  1. I have multiple categories of bookmarks – not just genealogy.  So I created separate boards for each of those topics.  To start, they currently are:
    1. Just for Fun (silly, mind candy websites)
    2. Work Related (my 9-5 FT job)
    3. Truck (for my husband’s 1958 Chevy Truck Restoration)
    4. Dogs
    5. My Husband’s Business
    6. Personal Finance
    7. Genealogy (of course!)
  2. Within Genealogy, I have multiple tiles with lists of the websites related to those topics.  I have so many Genealogy topics, however, that I think I may need to even break up that board into multiples.  But for now, within my genealogy board, I’m organizing my bookmarks in the following way:
    1. Different sub-categories for Places – State, Cities, Countries where my ancestors lived.  Some examples: Germany, Georgia, Brooklyn
    2. Blogs I Follow
    3. Genealogy Sub-specialites, such as Military, Native American, Genetic Genealogy, Newspaper Research, Immigration
    4. Maps and Geography
    5. Genealogy Education – webinars, classes
    6. Genealogy Societies
    7. Images – sources for royalty-free, public domain and unrestricted use images
    8. Timelines – websites for generating timelines
    9. My blog – websites I use to manage my blog and generate content specific to blogging
    10. Genealogy writing websites
    11. Professional Genealogy websites
    12. Google books and other digital books I’ve found
    13. Repositories and Libraries
Papaly.com

Papaly.com

Update for My Genealogy Do Over

I’ve been working with my Genealogy Source Checklist (see previous post here). I’ve made a couple of modifications, and actually combined it with my Ancestry Document Download spreadsheet (see previous post here).  To combine them, I added a column for tracking if I had downloaded all the documents from my Ancestry account for that ancestor, along with a column for linking to the file location where those files are saved.

As an aside: I save all my computer files to a Dropbox account and for the spreadsheet, I went to the web interface and used the URL for the file location for the ancestor in question.  I actually used a bit.ly short url for the spreadsheet so that I didn’t have long, messy links in my file.

Excel

Excel

As I worked on my checklist here are some additional changes that I’ve made:

I added a hyperlink to each ancestor name that points to the Ancestry profile page for them in my tree.  To add a hyperlink, highlight the cell > right-click and select “Hyperlink”.  Copy and paste the URL of the Ancestry profile page into the dialog box and click OK.

Excel

Excel

 

I added a column for the surname.  This allows me to sort by the surname if I want to work on a particular family line.  For family members who I don’t have a surname (mostly wives whose maiden names are unknown), I put in the surname of the husband, so I can keep track of those people along with the rest of their family group.

Excel

Excel

 

I also added a column for tracking if I’ve completed downloading the documents for that ancestor.  I use three options: Complete, Not Complete and None.

Excel

Excel

 

And as I’m working through downloading the documents from Ancestry, I’m also using that opportunity to clean up my online family tree.  I removed a whole bunch of disconnected who are no longer connected to my family tree as I had eliminated them as being a part of my family.  I also decided to trim down who I include in my collateral relatives.  I realized when I was looking at the profile page for the “maternal grandfather of the mother-in-law of the husband of my great aunt” that I really didn’t want to spend the time tracking, researching and organizing for that distant a relation, who is only related through marriage.  I decided to draw the following line:

  1. I will include all siblings of direct ancestors.
  2. I will include spouses and children of all siblings of direct ancestors.
  3. I will include parents and siblings of spouses of siblings of direct ancestors (because this may be useful for cluster research).

In the end, I ended up with 1130 people in my current tree – which is still a fairly good number of people to research, track and organize!  672 of them are on my maternal side, 444 are on my paternal side and 14 are what I termed as immediate family.

I’ve updated the available templates here (though if you are already using the spreadsheet, just add the following columns:

  1. Family Name
  2. Doc Download (Complete, Not Complete, None)
  3. File Location

Genealogy Research Checklist

There are lots of different genealogy checklists available out there for tracking whether or not you’ve located a particular record for any given ancestor.  I was looking for one because I wanted to reorganize my genealogy research.  I’m peripherally following what’s going on with the Genealogy Do Over/Go Over that  many are participating in, but I’m fairly busy with my day job right now, so I’m only planning on completing just the first part of the project – categorizing what I’ve already collected in a spreadsheet and making sure I have copies of all digital records saved according to my filing system.  I’m actually going to actively try to restrain myself from going down the rabbit hole of additional research until I have everything cataloged and filed properly (best laid plans – I don’t know how successful I’m going to be because it’s the research part that’s irresistible and how I ended up in this disorganized mess.)

Most of the ones I’ve found are primarily word or .pdf versions that are one-sheet per ancestor.  But as a lover of data and a fiend for using Excel for anything I can, I’ve adapted my own genealogical research checklist.  I wanted to share it here, with a quick guide on how I choose to use it.

First, I designed it in mind using the MRIN-method of filing ancestor information that I learned in a class I took with Karen Clifford.  So each line item on the spreadsheet uses a combination of the MRIN of the marriage and the RIN of the individual for tracking the information.  In addition to the Ancestor Name, I also include the relationship to the “Home” person, in this case me, and what side of the family they fall on.  If I am tracking the records for my husband’s family, he would be the home person whose relationship I would be tracking.  I also include the years of birth and death, if known, to aid in searching.

Genealogy Checklist

Ancestor Information for each line item of the checklist

I have 13 sections (highlighted in alternating colors for visibility):

  • Vital/Church Records
    • Birth
    • Christening/Baptism
    • Confirmation
    • Marriage
    • Divorce
    • Adoption
    • Death
    • Burial
    • Ordination
    • Membership List/Directory
    • Church Histories
  • US Census Records: 1790 to 1940
  • State Census Records: 179_ to 194_
    • State Census years vary by state, so the last digit is left blank so as to be applicable to any state census
  • Land Records
    • Grantee Index
    • Grantor Index
    • Deeds
    • Abstracts
    • Mortgage/Promissory Notes
    • Surveys/Plats
  • Tax Records
    • Poll Tax
    • Real Estate Tax
    • Personal Property Tax
  • Burial Records
    • Tombstones/Monuments/Memorials
    • Cemetery Plats
    • Perpetual Care
  • Probate Records
    • Indexes
    • Wills
    • Administrator/Executor
    • Estate Inventories
    • Obituaries
    • Bonds
    • Settlements
    • Guardianships
  • Immigration Records
    • Passenger Lists
    • Emmigration List
    • Passports
    • Border Crossings
    • Alien Registration Cards
    • Naturalization/Citizenship Records
  • Military Records
    • Draft Cards
    • Enlistment Records
    • Service Records
    • Payroll Records
    • Muster Rolls
    • Discharge Records
    • Pension/Veteran Records
  • Personal & Miscellaneous Other Records
    • Family Bible
    • Account/ Bank Books / Statements
    • Appointment Calendars
    • Awards & Citations
    • Baby Books
    • Bills of Sale
    • Calling Cards
    • City Directories
    • Diaries & Journals
    • Employment Records
    • Family Histories
    • Greeting Cards & Letters
    • Insurance Policies
    • Medical Records
    • Memoirs
    • Oral Histories/ Interviews
    • Organizational Memberships
    • Photographs/ Scrap books
    • Postcards
    • Recipe Files
    • School Records
    • Telegrams
    • Yearbooks
  • Publications/Societies
    • GenealogyBank.com
    • Chronicling America
    • Newspapers.com
    • Other Newspaper Archives
    • PERSI
    • Genealogical Societies
    • Historical Societies
    • Secret Societies/Clubs
  • Book Sources
    • WorldCat
    • Local Library
    • California State Library
  • Repositories and Databases
    • NARA
    • FamilySearch
    • Ancestry
    • FindMyPast
    • My Heritage
    • Google
Genealogy Checklist

Categories & Document Types in Records Checklist

 

As I research my ancestors, I want to tick-off what types of documents I’ve found for each person.  To make missing documents more easily stand out, I use conditional formatting.  Every time I enter an “X” into the record box, it is automatically highlighted in red:

Genealogy Checklist

Red highlights with conditionally formatting

I also do two things for census records.  For the US Census decades, I fill in cells that are not applicable in black to make it clear that they are not missing.  For the State Censuses, I add a comment to the cell with the state name and exact year of the census identified:

Genealogy Checklist

For the years of the US Census that are not applicable to the particular ancestor, the cells are blacked out.

 

Genealogy Checklist

For state censuses, I also add a comment with the state name and exact year.

 

I also use filters in the table to allow me to search for a particular record across multiple ancestors.  For example, if I want to search for the 1880 US Census for everyone that is missing it, I can select the filter to show all “blanks”.  Alternatively, I can filter by color, to show all cells that have “no fill”.

Genealogy Checklist

Filtering by a particular column will help me narrow down which ancestors are still missing that record.

 

You can download a copy of this Excel checklist, with all the formatting features here.

How to… Get Organized with Researching My Family Tree

I’ve been away for a little while – been incredibly busy with a major work project, which included a lot of hours and travel.  Left me too exhausted and with too little time to spend on researching my family tree.  However, in May, I came across a blog post that inspired me to spend some time organizing.  Michele Simmons Lewis on her blog Ancestoring describes an Excel trick for working with the data in her Ancestry.com family tree.  At the end, it produces a spreadsheet with a list of all your ancestors, along with their birth and death dates/places.  Part of the beauty of the list is the list of names will contain a hyperlink to the individual profiles on Ancestry.com.  Here’s an example of what my list looks like:

 

My Family List in Excel

My Family List in Excel

 

Then I took the spreadsheet a few steps further – in part because I’m a complete Excel geek and because I like to use data to solve problems.  My next step, I added some extra columns:

Columns in My Spreadsheet

Columns in My Spreadsheet

 

  • Relationship (to me)
  • Side of the Family (Maternal, Paternal and N/A).  N/A is for my siblings, their spouses, children, etc. who don’t belong to actually one side of the family or the other.
  • Copies of Citations/Docs Downloaded.  (I’ll get more into this below.)
  • File location (for the MRIN/Marriage Record Identification Number, which I use for organizing my computer file folders)

In addition to the columns, I do a couple of other things to the data to make it easier to work with:

  1. Create a table for the range of data.  Excel behaves differently when working with data within a table that makes it easier to work with, especially when the data is very similar and when working with formulas.  To do this, highlight all the rows and columns of data in the spreadsheet.   On the Home tab, select Format as Table, then select the table format that you want/like.  I prefer a table that has alternating colors for the lines because I find that easier to read.
Formatting a Table

Formatting a Table

  1. Then I add a Filter to the column headers.  Highlight the row of headers, and select Filter on the Data tab.  Once the filter is set, you can click on any of the down arrows next to a column header to:
  • Sort by that column
  • Filter by certain data, such as a surname, and hide all the other rows of data.
Filters in Excel

Filters in Excel

Once I had the data formatted the way I wanted it, I was ready to get to work.  Using the hyperlinked name for each member of my family tree, I noted their relationship to me (concentrating only on direct ancestors and their siblings – I bypassed any cousins x times removed) and what side of the family they fell on.  This is easy in the Ancestry.com individual profile, as the relationship is noted in the header information.

Ancestry Profile Header

Ancestry Profile Header

But the main purpose of this list is to keep track of downloading copies of the records attached to my ancestors’ profiles to my computer to retain my own digital copy of all their records.  I’m still working my way through this, but I’ve got a good head start.  Once I’ve download the attached records of a particular profile, I mark the row as “Complete” under the column: Copies of Citations/Docs Downloaded.  I also save a .pdf of the citation page from Ancestry.com for each record, including any index citations, in the ancestor profile.  I then put the path for the file folder on my computer in the last column so that I know where to find these files later.

Download and File Location Columns

Download and File Location Columns

The next trick I use in Excel is Conditional Formatting.  Whenever I enter the word “Complete” in the Download column, it will highlight the row in green so I can easily see which ancestors I’ve completed downloading the documents for.  If the ancestor doesn’t have any source citations in their profile, I mark the column as “None”.  Any marked with “None” get highlighted in red.

Conditional Formatting

Conditional Formatting

To use Conditional Formatting to highlight a whole row, based on the contents of a single cell:

  • Highlight the row of data.
  • Select Conditional Formatting from the Home tab.
  • Select New Rule
  • In the New Formatting Rule dialog box, select “Use a formula to determine which cells to format”.
  • Enter the formula entering an equal sign, click on the cell that will contain the data you want to base the formatting on.  In this case, I select the cell F59 for the Download column for row 59.  This is where I will note “Complete” or “None”.  Enter another equal sign, then the text (in quotes) that you will base the formatting on, in this case, “Complete”.
  • Click on the Format… button to select the formatting you want applied to the row, such as fill, font color and border.
  • Click OK.
  • Repeat the process for “None”.
  • Click OK to exit out of the Conditional Formatting dialog box.
Conditional Formatting Rules

Conditional Formatting Rules

  • Select the Format Painter tool and copy the formatting to all rows in the spreadsheet.
Format Painter Tool

Format Painter Tool

Now that the spreadsheet is formatted the way I wanted, I worked my way through my family tree, surname by surname, noting the relationship and side of the family.

Now I can easily produce to do lists for research and downloading records for parts of my family tree by filtering the list based on surname, relationship type, side of the family, etc., depending on what part of my family tree I want to concentrate on.

And in the habit of playing with data, I also created some fun tables of summary information at the bottom of my spreadsheet, using some easy Countif formulas:

Counts by Side of the Family:

Count by Side of the Family

Count by Side of the Family

For example, to count the Maternal line, the formula is =countif(Range of Data, Cell with the word Maternal in it).  The formula will count all cells that contain the matching word from the data table.

Count by Side of Family Results

Count by Side of Family Results

 

Count by Complete Downloads

Count by Complete Download

Count by Complete Download

For example, to count the Complete Download, the formula is =countif(Range of Data, “Complete”).  The formula will count all cells that contain the word “Complete” from the data table.  Then count the total number of rows by with the CountA formula, written as: =counta(range of data).  In the last column, divide the Total Complete by the Total Count to get the percentage completed.

Count by Complete Downloads Results

Count by Complete Downloads Results

 

Count by Relationship Type

Count by Relationship Type

Count by Relationship Type

For example, to count the number of 2nd Great Uncles, the formula is =countif(Range of Data, Cell with the phrase “2nd Great Uncle” in it).  The formula will count all cells that contain the matching phrase from the data table.

Count by Relationship Type Results

Count by Relationship Type Results

A note about the “$” in some of the formulas: this hard codes the cell referenced in the formula, so that if you drag the formula down to copy it to additional cells, that part of the formula remains constant and only the non-$ numbers adjust.

So many thanks to Michele Simmons Lewis for the inspiration to riff off in order to get organized with my research.