Looking at the big four genealogy giants

#ANZAncestryTime chat was discussing pros and cons of the big four companies related to genealogy. This post will separate each of them.

Paul Chiddicks writes for Family Tree Magazine and has written a post including links to all his articles. Many of these relate to the big four companies and how to get the most out of them.

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Hilary also reminds us: Whatever we think about the online databases there is so much more hidden in our archives

Pauleen: I think the biggest weakness that comes from the digital records on the genie giants, is that inexperienced researchers haven’t learned to assess what they’ve found. Too easy to just accept what you’ve found. More a user weakness than that of the giants.

Alison: Definitely a lack of education or even an awareness that at least some informal training is necessary to make the best use of the resources out there.

ANZ: I see this so often. The word research has a different meaning to many I find. Sometimes it’s a matter of ‘if it’s on the internet then it’s true’ or seems to be that way

Pauleen: And if it’s on the internet it’s mine to use – ignore copyright. I find this every single time I talk about writing family history. Those who don’t want to know, turn listening ears off and arguing voices on.

Fran mentions: Their size means they can source data that smaller companies cannot afford to purchase. I feel a weakness of the paid sites is the cost. It is really expensive to have all three. Gradually more sites seem to be offering Monthly fees.

Pauleen gives us: Weaknesses: yes, it’s been said a bazillion times. A chromosome browser in Ancestry would be gold. MyHeritage- a less clunky search process would be good. FindMyPast has become less user friendly not more so, IMO.

Pauleen: Using digitised sources through all the genie giants has made research easy and almost too speedy. I kind of liked the slow genealogy of doing it in archives etc. But it is easier sitting at home in pyjamas.

Carmel: photo enhancements on MyHeritage, comprehensive collections on FamilySearch Irish collections on FMP and hints on Ancestry

Maggie: Loving the updated address search on @findmypast! And the newspaper collection is fab. On Ancestry I like the tree building features and DNA; FamilySearch – their wiki is brilliant; MyHeritage – chromosome browser.

Sue: I use all of them: FMP for British records, Ancestry for my tree and hints, FamilySearch to check what others might have as family members, MyHeritage for DNA stuff

Sharn: Each site has different merits. Ancestry.com gives me access to German records while FMP has better English records. I prefer to use the search method rather than using hints.

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Karen: I’ve loved being able to connect with family members on @Ancestry. Have learnt a lot. My grandmother didn’t know her father, so that whole line was new to us. Weaknesses are in the duplication of data and also very many errors.

Sharn: I find I get most of my DNA matches on Ancestry.com although I have tested with 5 companies

Jane: That reflects the relative sizes of the databases, I expect. Despite lower numbers in other databases, I have some very good matches in them as well as on Ancestry.

Pauleen: And I have some from one branch in 23andMe that appear nowhere else. Kind of mystifies me because it’s not so popular in Oz.

Margaret: Ancestry needs to let you see shared matches below 20cM. As most of my matches are in that group, it is a slow process finding people. And a chromosome browser.

Margaret: I have totally run out of colours. I now use symbols in the notes as well for the large groups that I cannot identify. The generations are so long in my family I am into the 1700s for 2xggparents

Sharn: Yes Ancestry definitely needs a larger colour palette for coding!

Paul: they all have their own good points and bad points and a lot will depend on the areas that your ancestors lived as to the availability of the records you need. I prefer Ancestry simply because it syncs with my FTM software

Sharn: I think the biggest strength for Ancestry is its huge database and number of users. And a great place to find family photos!

Helen: I’d forgotten that Sharn. Yes, I’ve found terrific photos for other people I’ve researched (not family) through @Ancestry (in my past working life) connected with family of research subjects & secured permission to use their photos womenaustralia.info/exhib/widows/d…

Sharn: My first ever online discovery was back when Ancestry was fairly new and I found the passenger record for my Swiss g g grandparents to Maryborough. I joined Ancestry to find no other Australian records until later

ANZ: I didn’t find much on my Australian family in the early days of Ancestry so stayed away from it for a while. I consider it essential now, especially for DNA and exposure for my trees

Margaret: Ancestry has given me family members through DNA matching, but always with the help of several other sites.

Jennifer: Certificates and other documents on Ancestry are a great resource. I need to find time to pay it forward and upload mine

Pauleen: Technically those images are copyright to the specific BDM agency…check the small print on the document. Hence why I don’t upload mine.

Sue: That’s why I add the web link to the document for relatives to check out themselves

Fran: I like the electoral rolls on Ancestry as it is easy since my tree has grown in size so I have more to check and trips to NZ are non-existent for me currently. Looking them up at Archives in Wellington was always interesting before Ancestry got them.

Sharn: Two years ago I was an advertisement for Ancestry.com after having my photo taken at RootsTech with a sign saying “My great Uncle was a Spy” with regard to a discovery

Margaret: I use Ancestry for its records in the Card Catalogue. It has the NZ Electoral Rolls which I use often. I use this site the most for DNA matching, but need many more groups.

Sue: on Ancestry, DNA match to positively identify surname of my paternal grandfather then within hours have lines back to 1700s – great discovery

Helen: I love the public member trees on @Ancestry, sure some are way off but others can help, you can help others and connect with potential family

Pauleen: Ancestry has a diverse range of research options and I find it easy to store an online tree there. Also very good for DNA and I like the grouping options. And yes a chromosome browser is wish list.

Jennifer: I love the hints on Ancestry. They can be a starting point for research. I always validate them before adding to my tree or discount them altogether

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Family Search

Hilary: Family Search is free and collaborative

Margaret: FamilySearch is very difficult to find anything on through a general search. No matter how much you try to limit the search, it does not work. Looking in the specific records is better.

Fran: Agreeing with you again. I mostly search via the catalogue rather than a general search.

Pauleen: And using keywords can be more helpful than place especially with Irish townlands.

Sharn: Familysearch gives you an excellent opportunity to transcribe records and you can choose which ones you want to do.

Pauleen: A strength of Family Search is its training opportunities for researchers eg wikis, videos and similar.

Carmel: best finds two gt grandfathers wills on FamilySearch

Margaret: FamilySearch gives me the probate records which are very useful.

Fran: Greatest discovery – siblings on the passenger @FamilySearch records for my Great GrandMother, Amelia Bretel. Discovered the migration date & she had siblings. Or does she? I cannot find them in the Channel Islands in the same household. Might be cousins?

Pauleen: Any discovery is a great discovery! I like how DNA matching has confirmed previously hypothesised cousin links. Digitised records showing you the original documents. Loved trawling #FamilySearch microfilms – apart from my eyesight.

Pauleen: Family Search is one I use less than I used to. If I had fewer paid subs I’d use it more often. It was gold when I started and could borrow in microfilms so I’ve done a lot of research through those.

Helen: I have gone through phases with FamilySearch too Pauleen. I find the search irritating, but its fuzziness in results is really helpful, better than some of the others

Margaret: My Legacy software syncs to FamilySearch which is useful when I am building quick trees to find missing fathers or grandfathers. I use it to find some records from there and @WikiTreers , but the search method is poor.

Hilary: I like building families at Family Search and like that they give citations for records

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Jennifer: I don’t have European ancestors so haven’t used MyHeritage. Though I did love the photo enhancer that I tried out during Rootstech

Pauleen: MyHeritage has good trees for European families and I like their DNA analysis tools, cluster and chromosome browser. Their search facility is clunky.

Jane: There is power in working across the databases and cross referencing data

Pauleen: Absolutely! But you need to “get” that the opportunity to do so exists and that you might learn something different/new

Carmel: biggest problem, one has to pay to keep a tree of more than 250 people there, and it requires another subscription for the data as well as the tree

Hilary: My Heritage is known for its search engine and photo enhancing tools Good for European research

Margaret: MyHeritage is NOT my favourite tonight having got another nonsensical ToFR equating my grandfather’s father to a different person. And my 2xggmother with a totally different name in the next one. Why can’t I reject them!! And that there are no sources for profiles on trees. I don’t use it very much although I have at present got a sub.

Pauleen: You’ve reminded me of a weakness of MH Margaret. I should turn off notifications because my inbox gets flooded.

Margaret: Although the chromosome browser in MyHeritage is useful, it is clumsy and slow to use. I download the results and sort them instead!

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Find my Past

Hilary: The strength of #findmypast is the UK records 1939 register updates Newspapers and next year 1921 census in UK

Margaret: I haven’t yet had a subscription to Find My Past but do use them for many searches. I use the free 1881 Census there. I plan to have a sub once I have cleared my life of other urgent tasks

Helen: Lots to love about @findmypast and UK censuses, adding in a birthplace to optional keywords rather than location, helps with the waifs and strays

Helen: @findmypast, ability to sort your search results is AWESOME, means you can broaden search then sort in a number of helpful ways

Pauleen: FindMyPast is my favourite for Irish research because of its range of sources. It also has more focus on UK based offerings.


Does your personal list of Genealogy Giants include another site and why?

Karen: Also the Ryerson Index (for dates and indications of family notices). ryersonindex.org I find the Australian and NZ archives to be brilliant, as well as Trove. naa.gov.au archives.govt.nz records.nsw.gov.au trove.nla.gov.au have led me to large files of papers related to various ancestors.

Margaret: I have so many – FTDNA, Scotlands People, IrishGenealogy, Internet Archive, Online Genealogic Index, papers Past, Trove, BDM , FreeCen Reg, BMD, Archway and Google (and others I am sure). And many Facebook Groups.

Paul: I would also add that joining various online forums can be a great help, although not obviously genealogy research sites, forums are packed full of experts in their own fields and can be invaluable

Helen: If doing Cornish research the wonderful @CornwallOPCs Being able to focus exclusively on Cornwall without all the noise. Sorting features. Person search over all databases. Easy ability to correct transcription errors.  cornwall-opc-database.org

ANZ: Facebook pages and groups for help with research. Especially for help translating foreign records

Jennifer: Many years ago, I found letters my gg grandfather wrote home to England on Royal Historical Society of Victoria website. Lots of unexpected info there for Victorian research.

Hilary: as I am updating my tree @WikiTreers I use the research function to search but mostly the Big 3 as others not on the automatic search

Jane: I have had a good response rate from my matches on Living DNA … Yes progress on the site has been slow 🐌 but sometimes slow and steady 🐢 wins the race

ANZ: newspaper sites like Trove, PapersPast and The British Newspaper Archives are invaluable for finding details you won’t find elsewhere and adding context to your family stories

Fran: My top 4 go to sites are PapersPast in NZ, more recently the NZSG site as I finally joined up, Ancestry and NZ BDM. Sticking to the basics as my tree is still in the immature stage with plenty of room to grown if fertilised correctly.

Maggie: I use The Genealogist occasionally for their tithe records, and RootsIreland for parish register index/transcriptions.

Hilary: as I don’t use My Heritage I would say the others I use are GRO, FreeUKGen all 3 of them are great and some OPC sites mainly Dorset but others do exist Find A Will and National Archive

Sue: As my family history since 1830 is mainly in Tasmania, my first go to is Tasmanian Names Index at Libraries Tasmania – all free and includes BDMs, wills, arrival departures, convicts, some employment, welfare records etc

Jennifer: Scottish Indexes for Scottish research and Trove

Pauleen: My personal genealogy giants include Trove (could not live without it – it’s been a game changer), ScotlandsPeople for Scottish research; irishgenealogy.ie and registers.nli.ie for Irish research

Margaret: You have left out @WikiTreers which is the site I use for my and my husbands’ trees. I like the way I can write stories supported by sources. And leave a legacy for those who come after me

Sophie: Crowdsourcing research will always need good guidelines which users stick to, I think WT has a good approach and from what I’ve seen, a v supportive community

Margaret: The quality is hugely variable. My cousin writes research-type biographies. I’m not quite as good but include as much as I can. Others write nothing except birth and death year. Quantity is applauded over quality.

Sophie: Yes, the biggest challenge comes with validation when you have such a huge undertaking. I know of some users who put a great deal of time into the quality of their WT research, though the big question is how to incentivise quality across a big community

Ryan: I love WikiTree’s mechanics. If there were a genealogy desktop software program that let you do sources and citations like you can with WT’s inline system, I’d use that.

Paul: agree with Margaret and @ScientistSoph @WikiTreers is another great place to share your tree, I have started uploading my biographies on there this year

Helen: I would say my biggest discoveries have all come through a combination of @TroveAustralia newspapers feeding into hardcore on the ground archival research in repositories

ANZ: When researching I usually have Find A Grave, Ancestry and FMP open. If it’s Scottish research then also Scotlands People

Hilary: My best most recent find was not from any of the Big Four but through finding maiden name on GRO website

Helen: Yes, agree Hilary. The GRO comes into its own, especially for inclusivity of children born/died between censuses because of that wonderful addition of mother’s maiden name

Hilary: I often use other sites first for UK research to find things then look at paid site for an image

Blog posts:

Carmel has written about the AJCP found at the National Library Australia. She has posts for every letter of the alphabet.

Readers: Which genealogy giant do you find most useful in your research and why?

Sources and citation

Again ANZAncestryTime twitterchat had our four questions but I am going to separate them with our answers.

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1. Do you cite your genealogy sources and why is it important to do so?

Karen: Much of the information I have found is in historical newspapers and documents such as electoral rolls, birth, marriage and death certificate transcriptions, and shipping records. I had little information to go on otherwise.

Helen: Of course! To provide evidence; so I can easily access/find the source again; to help others check my work and help with their research.

Michelle: Always. Although sometimes they are a rough entry in notes until I do them properly in my database.

Margaret: I try to on all my @WikiTreers profiles. Only exception is my mother’s research. If she has it and I can’t find it I use it

Helen: That’s a great recommendation. I have a family member’s research I can implicitly trust too. I love sharing my discoveries with her

Pauleen: The best kind of research geneabuddy…a serious, meticulous researcher

Helen: My wonderful older geneabuddy had access to the older generation I didn’t too, and she still has paper questionnaires from the 70s/80s she asked them to fill in about her family. GOLD!

Fran: How wonderful. Hopefully someone will digitise the images and also type up so they are not lost.

Brooke: and how do you write the citation for a questionnaire?

Helen: I’d include name of person answering, name of researcher, describe it as a genealogy questionnaire, private hands (in a publicly available document/blog)

Carmel: I record all sources in my genealogy database as I add the records. Add lots to Evernote too. All sources added to blog posts, Harvard style

Fran: I use my database also. I used to add more notes in Evernote but recently moved extras back to my database as notes or attachments so it can be found all in one place.

Maggie: Have learnt the hard way, and now am religious about keeping track of my sources – so I can go back and see what I found, how I found it, where I found it, and evaluate it against other sources.

Claire: I think we all have notes on pieces of papers that we have no idea where we found something!

Maggie: I think that’s when I switched to notebooks… at least the notes were all in one place. Still unsourced, but hey, better than loose scraps (and hopefully some context in there?).

Claire: I have my own referencing system for my offline tree. Online I sometimes add sources but generally don’t spend to much time on it, I don’t want to give all my work to commercials & I can produce the goods for genuine connections when asked.

Hilary: I have spent too much time redoing things because I didn’t do a good job of citation in the past so now it is the first priority. It is important to know where you found the information if some time later you find something that questions earlier research I found this problem just yesterday.

Pauleen: And to add insult to injury, the archives changes their cataloguing system and you have to “translate” the old citation into their new format.

Helen: Which is an ABSOLUTE disgrace! I’m an archivist and archivists should understand this! Don’t get me started!

Pauleen: And occasionally you find a person who can’t help make a transition you’re trying to track.

Helen: I am not going to ‘like’ this Pauleen! Where’s the ‘fuming’ icon?!

Sue: Did this in Tasmania but at least only added a 1 in the catalogue eg RGD37/46 became RGD37/1/46 – meaning first lot digitized I think

Brooke: I tend to copy the MLA citation for Trove articles because it is closest to UTas history citation style. It’s what you’re used to.

Jennifer: I’ve found many think that if it’s on the internet it’s free. I found a blog post I’d written about an ancestor on someone’s Ancestry account as if they wrote it. I asked them to take it down or add me as the source. They took it down after a while

Sue: having blogged with students since 2007, I quickly learnt about copyright with images and getting permission or else you get sued.

Pauleen: Even a copyright notice across the image doesn’t stop people using them. People in general are intransigent about copyright and don’t want to hear when you tell them they can’t.

Sharn: I find if I record my sources as I research it is less painstaking than doing it all at once.

Sue: when adding to profiles on trees, I include websources especially from Trove or the Tasmanian Names Index

Pauleen: When we get pressed for time when visiting a repository it’s all too easy to forget to properly document. Online catalogues can be helpful to overcome our omissions. I try to photograph the packet and my order slip before I start on the document. Thankful for the fact we’re now allowed to photograph. Once upon a time we had to get anything we wanted photocopied and sign a copyright disclaimer.

Maggie: I always photograph the order slips now, has saved my life many a time. And yes, always seem to be working at speed in archives

Sharn: As I research now I add my sources to a word document that I save to my computer and each topic has its own folder of sources I can return to.

Jennifer: This is what I’d like to do. I l wish I was as organised as you Sharn. I should make it a priority

Jennifer: I learnt in the early days of my research how important it was to cite sources when I couldn’t find something previously found in an archive. One day I’m going to go back to all those old early blog posts and find the source so that I can cite them. That’s the plan anyway, if I live long enough.

Pauleen: @legalgen has shown us the gold standard of citations in blogging, so we’ve started to learn from her example

Sharn: It is important to me to cite my sources as they establish evidence for my research. I also learn from other people’s citations

Pauleen: I agree. Following other’s citations in books etc can be useful wayfinders to future research opportunities.

Helen: Absolutely. I’m an avid footnote fan. I even own a book called The Footnote, by Anthony Grafton!

Pauleen: To footnote or to endnote, that is the question. I’ll have to look for that book.

Fran: Items I add to my main family tree I cite the sources. I need to as I cannot remember where I fond things. I do not always source blog posts as mine are usually quick and sweet little posts and not advanced pieces of research. If anyone asked I could refer to my main tree and see where I found the information.

Helen: Currently tutoring at tertiary level & correct citation is a huge part of their mark, effectively, because if the students don’t master citation, they fail their assignments!

Jennifer: It’s important to cite your sources so you or somebody else can find it again. It also gives credibility to the information and gives credit to other researchers or writers. Without citing sources you could be accused of plagiarism

Sue: when writing post on blog I link URL to images of words but don’t necessarily cite like in Chicago etc unless it is formal essay

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2. Where do you use citations? ie blogs, reports, trees?

Karen: I included a long reference list for a recent article for the Lane Cove Historical Society journal. I send links to articles to family members, e.g. Trove articles. Citations are also in my family tree. Haven’t written blogs yet. Maybe I should.

Michelle: in my database and any report I write. I haven’t got into blogging yet but one day… I’ve begun putting biographies on WikiTree and the citations sometimes lag behind the text until I can copy/paste but I find it easier to just write without stopping.

Pauleen: I can understand writing without stopping but even if you just put the footnote # in there and come back after finished writing it helps.

Sue: Always good to check the site you got info from for how they want something cited or footnoted

Helen: Good point Sue. Some of them are very clear about that. Some of them could do better!

Sharn: I use citations in my house histories. The footnotes are as long as the history sometimes

Pauleen: I used them extensively in my major ADLH assignment for Oxford, as it was about Irish migration and conditions which wasn’t their area of expertise.

Fran: Mostly 100% in my main tree has some source. I try not to add unless I have time to do a source. I do them for other work like any essays, reports, etc when studying as this is expected and part of the process.

Maggie: Reports, trees, blog posts (though sometimes those ones might be less formal). However, I do have a bit (okay, a lot) more work to do on ones in the earlier nooks and crannies of my main research tree in Reunion.

Pauleen: I don’t use citations in trees online because I don’t add my primary research to those. I also don’t add it to my genealogy database as I prefer a narrative format.

Helen: We are very similar but that said, for one particular branch of the family I have an online database where I add sources and annotate. Here’s an example: ancestry.helenmorgan.net/people/13-0020

Pauleen: I like how you’ve got the person’s life history summarised in a clear way.

Helen: Thanks. Lots more to do on this. None of them are ‘finished’ – I intend to include more of my narrative writing too.

Hilary: I have been waiting for new desktop software update so now trying to use to rebuild my database using good citations as has better sourcing capabilities

Jennifer: I cite my sources on everything I write. I often write & publish blog posts on my phone when away from home and when I don’t have the source at hand. I always go back and add it later

Sharn: If I am out I add a source in NOTES on my phone so I can find it again later

Hilary: I am very active on @WikiTreers and busy cleaning up profiles so much of my current citation work is online

Sue: If I want to use something from Tasmanian archives always send them a request and include URL of blog post it will be used in. Haven’t been refused yet.

Pauleen: That’s interesting because I’ve been told before that the archive doesn’t own copyright and I had to go to the relevant dept. A right nightmare! That was for my book.

Sharn: I use footnotes on my blog posts and I now add source on my online trees (I’ll add ie a FindmyPast source on an Ancestry tree) so that I know where I found things

Margaret: I use them in the biographies I write for my profiles on @WikiTreers. I add them to the people in my Legacy trees

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3. What referencing system or guides do you use or would like to use for citation?

Karen: EndNote. I generally use APA7th when citing.

Sophie: Great question! Agree with others that there’s a need to be a little flexible with choice of ref style according to where you’re publishing/writing…but Shown Mills’ book is certainly handy

Sophie: One of my go-to items is Zotero @zotero which has an awesome browser add-on that allows you to perform a one-click grab of referencing metadata from pages and articles you visit online. An essential tool!

Hilary: I use Evidence Explained if I can but I also have Referencing for Genealogists: Sources and Citation which is better for UK sourcing

Michelle: I tried EE but found it inconsistent. And the comma inside the title quotes is grammatical nonsense. Now I use my own system which is pretty much [where I found it] citing [where it comes from]. For books etc I use Harvard which I’ve used for years.

Fran: Would love to say some official system. Do have my Evidence Explained beside me. I find The Lazy Genealogist system most successful. I use free form in Reunion. I go for more than less. Copy archives citations, add notes, transcriptions, images, links, etc.

Sue: depends who i am writing for. essay at uni or article for magazine, i would do formal citing with footnotes and bibliography. but blog post often links if info found online

Jennifer: I’ll use a link in a blog post too Sue if I have one. Will put the correct source in my FH software

Hilary: If websites provide their own citations I will use them but sometimes I edit them if incomplete

Helen: I no longer follow a particular system, just include everything needed for a clear, honest citation that allows it to be found again

Brooke: I think that’s completely valid. Being able to re-find the source is the point of the exercise.

Carmel: Indeed, as long as one has Who, What, When , Where , Why and How – that’s the criteria I use for citations then make sure some consistency of order is added

Jennifer: I always refer to Evidence Explained (EE) when unsure. If I’m really unsure I just write it to make sense so somebody knows where to look for it after they read it.

Sharn: I prefer Harvard style citations but in terms of organising citations they are in files under topics researched on my computer. I need some software!

Pauleen: Unless I’m required to use a particular citation model, I tend to use the Australian Style Manual. The main thing is to get the details documented so the record can be found again

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4. How do you keep track of the sources you find or want to follow up? ie correspondence with relatives, downloads, photos

Brooke: How about naming files for digital sources? At a workshop, a historical fiction writer said that she simply names files according to what they mean to her, thinking of words she would use for searching, & let’s the computer’s search engine do the rest.

Jennifer: I like that idea. It keeps it simple. There’s really no need to overcomplicate as long as it can be followed. Different if it’s a source in a book or publication

ANZ: I am pedantic about my filenaming, use a standard convention so I can build my complete citation from it.

Brooke: Eureka moment! That’s a very smart way to go about it. Thank you.

Maggie: And don’t modify the original file, always edit a copy. That way the date of the file is the date you accessed/downloaded it.

Pauleen: Hadn’t thought to do that, good tip, thanks Maggie.

Pauleen: I remember once, at work, being told that file where you first think of a location as it’s likely that’s where you’ll look next time. Makes sense I think

Fran: For work I use names I would think of searching for next time I want it. Similar for family history though I start with a unique number so that once I find one piece I just search the number and find all related pieces.

Fran: A number for an item plus words for things like source, what it is, names and dates – sometimes shorthand. Eg a birth certificate, a will, a page from a census though this might have two pages if the family covers two pages. 0600-GRO-Death-Cert-Frances-Ann-Shepherd-DOD-1946.png

Helen: I would do this for some – very frustrating that with VIC BDM certs they provide them unmeaningfully as Cert_190923-2021 rather than before image_DeathCertificate_CAHILL_Michael_1863 – so I rename those. Otherwise I rely on filing by subject/context

Pauleen: I keep a running file of records I want to follow up in the archives or library and another for my infinite wishful “to do” list. I found my archives list very useful when I’d suddenly find myself in Brisbane from Darwin.

Michelle: I use a genealogy-specific gmail address and file all emails into folders by name.

Michelle: I have 4 colour-coded manila folders by grandparent surname where stuff for scanning goes till I deal with it. Same on computer for digital stuff. When I’m working on that line I go through it and process them

Karen: I have photos and documents stored in folders on my computer/Cloud and hard drives. Many have been sent via email, so I can often find them quickly through email searches.

Pauleen: Does anyone else ever feel like they’re drowning in a tsunami of data, sources, emails, photos etc etc? I’m finding it very overwhelming with my decades of “stuff”.

Fran: I can understand this better after seeing your book today. What a pile of work that would have been!! I suspect you need to prioritise and work on that first. Some might have to be left undone.

Pauleen: I was exceptionally organised when I was writing the book but now I’m retired I’ve moved into CBB (can’t be bothered) mode about far too much.

Maggie: ‘m not great at this bit – I need a correspondence log! Downloaded files are no problem, as I use a filenaming convention, but I need to sort out a proper system for photos.

Hilary: I have so much organising to do but not sure when it will be done as lockdown did not inspire me to do it. When I am filing downloaded images I am trying to stick with the original name just adding to the appropriately named folder

Sharn: It bothers me that I haven’t organised my email correspondence. I have a wealth of information in them. I record every source I find that is useful in word documents under the topic. I just add to those when I find more. I index them to keep track of what I have. I hate losing sources

Jennifer: I really dislike research logs. I just put where I researched and the results on the ancestor file in FH software

Fran: Big fail happening with keeping track on want to follow up. When I am tidying up pile of what looks like scrap I will find a page printed with a little note: check at XYZ place.

Pauleen: I’ve been retrieving old emails (some) and sending them to Evernote too. I’ve also copied the email chain for ones I’ve had lots of correspondence with and put them into a file.

Carmel: in email keep all genie correspondence in one folder, in gmail, tag with surname labels, also send to Evernote email with surname tag

Jennifer: I use the notes section in my family tree software to record sources that need follow up. I try to record all sources with a person on the tree. That’s my intention but I’m not always that organised. I’m very proud to see I scanned every one of my documents and photos in lockdown last year. Took all year. Was so happy when it was done

Want to practice your writing and citation skills?

Great quotes:

Jennifer: Thanks everyone for the really informative discussion on sources. I’m relieved to hear that I’m not the only one who isn’t perfect all the time. I did think it was only me

Penny: What is this you say – The Lazy Genealogist system? Is there such a thing?

Readers: Do you include sources and citations when writing blog posts, reports or on your trees?