My cousins notebook

One of my organizational tips is for everything to have a place… no more sticky notes and scraps of paper. For genealogy, I have something that I affectionately call my “cousins notebook.” 02_malibu journal refill pages

It looks like this… it is a portable notebook from Daytimer called the Malibu refillable journal. There is a lined page version and a plain page version. But any notebook will do!

01_malibu planner







There are many types of lists and contacts housed in this notebook. When I see a website, hear a speaker, or receive an email about something new, I track helpful websites, particularly if I have to wait to look at it and find it later.



09_helpful tips

I keep track of newly found cousins. I note which line of the family, Ancestry user name, family tree name, and I also track here whether I have shared my private family tree with them. I keep track of DNA matches as well.

12_dna matches_redacted 11_cousins correspond and invite to tree_redacted

Sometimes I find family trees that I want to look at later, so I note that.

10_helpful family trees_redacted


In addition to the hand-written notes to myself, I also have some lists that I use and update. I have a list for each person who has been DNA-tested. I have a ready-made copy and paste list of surnames for when I correspond with DNA matches.





07_list of surnames to paste into DNA messages

Something that I track in this notebook are the names that have “google alerts” set for surnames and the surname message boards that I have added to my aggregator, Feedly. If you need more information about Feedly, I have other posts about how to use it and set it up to streamline your genealogy sources, blogs, and surname message boards.

06_google alert list and family surname message boards in feedly

I have a list of the maps that I have collected for my research trips (and the ones I want to collect next).

05_list of maps

If you belong to RootsWeb groups, this notebook is a great place to track which groups are feeding into your email. I also update this list occasionally, removing groups that aren’t active anymore and adding new groups as my search expands.

04_rootsweb yahoo groups

The final list that I track and update in my cousins notebook is my society memberships, the cost, and the renewal dates.

03_genealogical society memberships


One of the best ways to clear your desk is to have a “go to” place for those notes and scraps of paper! Get a notebook and get organized!!

Free Yourself from Filing

How many times have you looked at the stack of papers in on your desk (or stuffed in the corner)? You feel bad that you have not been able to file? So you feel that the filing is overwhelming?

The focus of this blog in 2013 will be to help you organize your files, your leads, your projects, your cousins, and many other things. I will review products and articles on the topic and offer advice.

But before moving on to complicated systems and cumbersome notebooks or duplicated information to make “family notebooks”, let me tell you what I do.

I scan everything. I attach it to my family tree (Family Tree Maker). I have a clear plastic bucket where I stack things until I can scan things. When I file…

I have a series of clear plastic buckets with lids. And I file by surname on the record. I do not create any sub folders or sub categories. I file all of the Bs together and the Ts together without regard for suborganization. And for women who marry and even those who marry more than once, I file the papers or scraps or documents under the surname on the file.

Welcome to my system. I have never lost anything. And I don’t have to remember where the real document or real copy is.

Simple. Easy. Done.