A guide to creating your genealogy research plan using Trello. Start finding your ancestors with a organized genealogy research plan.
You know you should create a genealogy research plan for finding your ancestors, but are you wondering “How?”
Maybe you’re really wondering “Why?”. Do you really need to create a genealogy research plan?
Maybe you are having flashbacks to those high school term papers! I have to tell you our high school teachers were on to something!
Why You Want To Create a Genealogy Research Plan
Creating your genealogy research plan will:
- Keep you on track – and off those rabbit trails – when actively researching.
- Make you more efficient in your research.
- Save you time as you search for those ancestors.
Genealogy research plans do not have to be complicated and can take many forms. In this post we are going to explore how to use one of my favorite online tools Trello to create genealogy plans.
Trello – A Perfect Tool for Creating Your Genealogy Plan
Trello is a task management or project management app. Using boards, lists and cards, you can organize your genealogy research projects.
First you will need to create a free Trello account at Trello.com. There is an option to pay for a premium version, but I find the free version meets my needs well. (And you know me, I’m a frugal genealogist!)
Update: (October 2021) Trello has 4 levels to their pricing structure. I’ve always found the free version meets my needs. The free version is now limited to 10 boards per workspace, so if you want/need more boards, check out your options here.
Once you create you account and sign in you will go to your Trello dashboard. Here is what mine looks like. Each of these squares represents a board.
Learn the basics of getting started in this quick video, then keep on reading!
Now that you’ve got the basics, let’s look at how to create a genealogy research plan using Trello.
For our genealogy example, we will be using my ancestor Joanna Barrett (1824 – 1910). Joanna represents one of my brick wall ancestors! She was born in Ireland, immigrated to America by 1852 where she married William Richard Wilmoth. They lived in Surry County, NC where they are both buried. Joanna Barrett had one daughter born in America – also named Joanna – prior to her marriage to William Richard Wilmoth. Oral history states Joanna immigrated from Ireland with a husband who died on the ship prior to baby Joanna’s birth in America.
I desperately want to solve the puzzle of Joanna Barrett, so I have my plan.
I created a Trello board for Joanna Barrett. In the title of a board I will include my primary research question. Having my research focus written out to see each time I open that Trello board, keeps me on task when I research. In other words frequently reviewing my research question keeps me off of the those rabbit trails.
On that board, I created 9 lists all pertaining to Joanna.
- Surname Variations – Having a easily referenced list ensures I do not miss Joanna in the records simply because I did not recognize her.
- Wild Theories – My favorite! This is where I record possible theories to research out about Joanna.
- Timeline 1848 – 1860 – A timeline helps reveal patterns and gaps in your research. In this case, I am primarily focused on a short time span.
- Carroll County, VA – A potential location for records
- Patrick County, VA – Another potential location for records
- Grayson County, VA – Another potential location for records
- Immigration Records – A record set that needs to be researched.
- Surry County, NC Contacts – Contacts of other researchers and family members in the area who can assist my research.
- Helpful Websites – Essentially a bookmark list for sites specific to my Barrett research project.
The types of lists you create for your research project will be made up of topics that pertain to your ancestor. You will notice the lists I set up are generally divided into locations (#4-#6), references or sources (#1,#8 and #9) and brainstorming (#2). Having a timeline (#3) is very helpful when trying to put your information into perspective and look for gaps or patterns in your research.
Under each list are cards. Cards can simply be reminders such as the those in the Surname Variations list.
Or…..cards can hold more information or notes on a particular subtopic. Below you can see inside one of the “Wild Theories” card. One theory about Joanna Barrett is that she had Baby Joanna out of wedlock. Barrett may have been a first husband or her maiden name. Inside the description, I added further notes on this theory.
I then added a checklist to mark the progress on this potential theory.
As you can see, the lists and cards can be customized to suite your needs. Feel free to use the lists I used here or create your own.
Using Trello To Collaborate With Other Genealogy Researchers
Trello can be used to collaborate with other researchers working on the same project! To invite another person to join you on the Trello board, simply click the “Invite” button at the top and fill in the person’s email address and hit send.
Besides collaborating on a genealogy research project, Trello shared boards are a great way to plan a family reunion!
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Trello For On-The-Go Genealogy Research
Don’t forget to download the Trello app to your smartphone. Trello will sync across all of your devices making it perfect for on the go research. I especially love it when I get that bit of research inspiration out of the blue. I can quickly open Trello on my phone and make a quick note. It’s’ there ready for me when I sit down to research the next time.
Have I convinced you to try creating your genealogy plan using Trello!
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