Genealogy Do Over – Organizing My Online Bookmarks

First let me say – I have no connection to, 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  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

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 short url for the spreadsheet so that I didn’t have long, messy links in my file.



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.




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.




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.




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
    • Chronicling America
    • 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.