Friday, December 4, 2015

FILE FRIDAY - Photographing Documents with an iPhone and Tripod

So, you are thinking about making copies of old photos and documents when visiting Aunt Libby's house over the holidays?  John Zimmerman's .PDF file titled Photographing Documents with an iPhone and Tripod is a must read. Thankfully, John includes pics of the right way and the wrong way to do things. There are details about the swivel video mount he ordered from And you've simply got to read which way to line up those tripod legs, so the weight of the iPhone doesn't cause the entire thing to tip over. Who needs a cracked up smart phone with the holidays approaching?

Here's the link to the file post in The Organized Genealogist Facebook Group:


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Friday, November 27, 2015

FILE FRIDAY - Individual City Directory Worksheet

When you need to track an ancestor or his family more frequently than every ten years from a census, city directories are a good place to turn. Thanks to Cecily Bishop for creating a printable Individual City Directory Worksheet in MSWord format. By the time you complete an entire worksheet, you've created a mighty good migration trail from which to look for other surviving documents that may mention your ancestors.

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

FILE FRIDAY - Jenny L's IDG post with printable forms

AAACK! It's Friday the 13th, but there's no need to worry. A day in the life of an organized genealogist might include laying out printouts of the documents collected to solve a research question, say about an ancestor's birth. Eventually our computer desks are piled high, and it's easy to get lost in the mess. 

Jenny Lanctot's recent post "Start Your Research on the Right Foot" from The In-Depth Genealogist blog includes:
  • Jenny's Family Group Sheet
  • Jenny's Completed Search Checklist (reminding herself to look for this and that)
  • 1940 US federal census extraction form
  • and a particularly interesting Census Comparison Chart
Thank-you, Jenny, for some thoughtful forms we're happy to feature for TOS' File Friday.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

FILE FRIDAY - Checklist for gathering from the 4 corners of your home


Today's File Friday post comes to us from the old 1997 BYU's Ancestors TV Series handouts, unearthed by Judy Young Tuccinardi as Checklist1.pdf Version 1..The information is still good. It's all about gathering every possible document, heirloom, journal, letter, and bible record into one place. Look high and low throughout your house. 

You know you've been meaning to do this. 

You know you cannot possibly get genealogically organized until you do this. 

So hurry, before the holidays take over your dining room table, get it all pulled out, so you know what you've got. Then you can organize, categorize and prepared to scan documents and archive heirlooms over the winter months. I guess you'll have to stack things up on the extra shelves in the guest bedroom closet until the New Year, eh?

This is the link to Cousin Russ' ingenious The Organized Genealogist File Listing Directory

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Friday, October 30, 2015

FILE FRIDAY - Useful forms not found in our file directory

Organized genealogists use forms when extracting information from things like handwritten census records. So why on earth are we spotlighting forms that are not part of The Organized Genealogist Facebook Group's File Library? Frankly, it's to honor the creators of these copyrighted forms. We also wish to remind our members not to upload any file except those they have created themselves.

Here are links to help you find the copyrighted form you desire. 

Census extraction forms for the US, UK, Canada

RootsWeb page by Miriam Robbins, including the unusual interview forms for cemetery and funeral home employees

Cyndi's List - Printable Charts and Forms

A sizable assortment:

Immigration record extraction forms

Research tracing and organization forms

From the National Archives (US) including immigration, additional census schedule extraction forms

Thanks to the organizational ability of Cousin Russ Worthington, we have a categorized file listing of the other 300+ member-uploaded files in the The Organized Genealogist Facebook Group. He saved it as a Google Doc found here .

Here's where you'll find us:
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

FILE FRIDAY: Katherine Wilson's Genealogy on Facebook List

Our spotlight this week is the work of Katherine R. Wilson, who has gathered 5,700+ links to Facebook genealogy pages and groups, with another 300+ in the works. Katherine has personally uploaded a copy to The Organized Genealogist Facebook group file area here. We've learned she is writing a book on the use of Facebook for genealogical research.

Katherine's file in .PDF format has a clickable table of contents including, among other topics:
  • US states
  • foreign countries
  • adoption
  • DNA
  • ethnic groups 
  • lineage societies
  • maps
  • software
  • surnames
So why are we spotlighting this marvelous file? Quite frankly to remind our group there is probably a Facebook group out there to handle your research questions. This frees us up to discuss organization in The Organized Genealogist Facebook Group. Without Katherine's list, we may never know what's available.


Your local genealogy society may wish to invite Kathrine to speak at your upcoming day-long seminar. Find our more about Katherine's presentation topics here. From her website we read:
"Katherine currently serves on the Membership Committee for the Federation of Genealogical Societies, is the Vice-President of the Michigan Genealogical Council, Vice-President of the Ford Genealogy Club (MI), Director for the Genealogical Society of Washtenaw County (MI), Corresponding Secretary for the Detroit (MI) Society for Genealogical Research, and the Newsletter Editor for the Dearborn (MI) Genealogical Society."
Katherine has also created a compilation of instructional genealogical videos on YouTube.

Thanks to the organizational ability of Cousin Russ Worthington, we have a categorized file listing of the other 300+ member-uploaded files in the The Organized Genealogist Facebook Group. He saved it as a Google Doc found here .

Here's where you'll find us:
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Copying - Do I really have permission?

Just what is the "right" thing to do?

When it comes to copyright and genealogy, Judy G. Russell​, JD, CG, CGL is my go-to expert. Cousin Russ​ asked that I share this video with The Organized Genealogist Facebook Group as we consider:
  1. Should I upload the handout to last week's genealogy class to our Facebook Group?
  2. May I attach that image to my ancestor's profile in my online tree or personal database?
  3. Can I share someone's Excel worksheet with our Facebook group? 
  4. If I cite where I got an item from, does that meet the concept of "fair use" ?
In this video we were considering how much of a book to use in our public study group discussions and publicly published homework. We want to be sure to keep things on the up and up. These same principles of fair use apply to our posts and files we may upload to our Facebook group.

AND THE ANSWER IS... If it isn't yours, don't share it without written permission. Actually we already knew that, since we learned in grade school not to copy the work of a fellow student. 

We're all students of genealogy. Let's follow the National Genealogical Society's Genealogical Standards and Guidelines:

Here's where you'll find us:



Judy G. Russell's  T'S NOT SHARING

Judy G. Russell's  YES. NO. AND MAYBE

(This is about accepting requests to do look-ups on membership sites)


Monday, October 19, 2015

Here's Diane's plan for digital file folder organization

 After working through every single file uploaded to our Facebook group's file area, I'd particularity like to spotlight Admin Assistant Diane Gould Hall's post about digital folder organization. Thank-you, Diane for sharing your thinking with us. BRAVO!!!! This is the link to her post where you may preview and download the file:

Here's where you'll find us:
Facebook Group -

Meet Our Assistant Administrators

Cousin Russ and I knew we'd need help in the admin department when it comes to a Facebook group with 26,000+ members. We are happy to introduce our teammates:

Thank-fully Diane Gould Hall has agreed to continue as a member of the team established by our founder Susan Petersen. Diane serves us well with institutional knowledge about the group.  Look for her digital folders organization file with great ideas. Her blog is Michigan Family Trails.

Archivist Melissa LeMaster Barker joins the team with an eye to preservation, something organized genealogists must consider before the paperwork becomes overwhelming. She posts practically every day via Facebook, spotlighting unusual ephemera uncovered in her work at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives.

An experienced archives, library and online researcher, Pat O'Donnell Kuhn understands the challenges facing family historians and can help us avoid pitfalls. Her blog is Touching Family History.

Julie Goucher rounds out our team with an international flair, since she hails from England. We know her from hangouts and her work teaching us to write our personal histories. Her main blog is Angler's Rest and she coordinates the Worldwide Genealogy Blog.

Here's where you'll find us:
 Facebook Group -

ANNOUNCING: Our new FILES area on Facebook

It is my pleasure to announce that our favorite Cousin Russ Worthington has devised an ingenious way to access the 300+ files in The Organized Genealogist Facebook Group's file area. This is the plan:

FIRST, Russ created a Google Doc titled The Organized Genealogist File Listing Directory with clickable category links such as:
  • Census
  • Checklists
  • Research
NEXT, Russ created a Google Sheet for each category, with the listing of files by name, date of upload and name of uploader.

THEN, Russ instructed the other group administrators to test out every link, to be sure each pointed to the correct file.

FINALLY, Russ created a short-subject video explaining how to use the The Organized Genealogist File Listing Directory, embedded below.

Here's where you'll find us:

Facebook Group -

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Organizing research plans?

HERE are things to consider, based on a recent thread in our Facebook group. Becky asked "Question on how to organise my research plans. I'm just setting up some templates to get myself more organised in moving forward with my research. I've never used Research Plans before so I've found a template i like but do i use this for each event/fact i research? birth, death, marriage, etc. or only the ones i have trouble finding? And if i use the Research Plans for all events/facts, do i use a separate plan for each 'fact' or one Research Plan per ancestor that encompasses them all?" [See: : viewed 18 Oct 2015]

To which Pat replied " I use a research log to plan what I will research and to record my results. I do this fairly systematically with all my ancestors.

When I have a particularly difficult kinship determination to make, I may use a different tab in the workbook to keep track of all by that surname in the area at the time. This is also helpful when there appear to be two or three possibilities for say a father to my known ancestor.

That's the fun of research.

From an organizational standpoint, I'm careful to file that worksheet in my "not proved" folder for that surname until I arrive at a conclusion."

Becky then responded "Thanks, that makes sense...keep a log for everything and use a plan when something is particularly hard to find (or you find conflicting evidence). Pat, do you put the sources etc you find when following your research plan into the Plan and then also copy them all into the log?"

Pat replies "Yes I link them to a digital copy on my computer, and I cite where I found the document in my log. I'm never sure, sometimes, which ones will actually be incorporated into my proof argument."

Michele explains "Whether I use a research log for a family group, a single person or a single research question depends on the project. For example, I am working on a history of the first three pastors of Kiokee Baptist Church, the oldest Baptist Church in the state of the Georgia. It just so happens that the first three pastors were a father, son and grandson. In this case I am using a single research log for the entire family.

Another example. I have a brick wall ancestor that I am working on. I have a research log for just him. Because he is a brick wall I need to gather everything that I can possibly find on his entire life.

Another example. I am working on a specific research question on another person. I am trying to determine parents for a female. This is probably going to end up being an indirect evidence case study so I have a research log for just this one research question." (She used MS Excel.)

Pat explains "My dining room table isn't big enough to lay out the documents I find with sticky notes of individual document analysis. Nor could I readily see "trends" in those notes. It's much easier with a spreadsheet."


Here's where you'll find us:

Facebook Group -

Monday, October 12, 2015


Here's where you'll find us:

Facebook Group -

However, we're quite certain this blog will become quite active as we strive to organize all this genealogy "stuff".