Genealogy Bullet Journaling

I was in the lounge at work the other day and a couple of my co-workers were talking about bullet journals.  I’d never heard about a bullet journal before.  My co-workers gave me a description, and I looked it up when I got home.  Basically, it’s a style of journaling wherein a person writes everything with bullets or checkboxes to save the time and energy it would take to go into detail about one’s day.  I could never journal like that.  However, I thought it could be slightly adapted to work for genealogy, so I gave it a try.

The first page of my bullet journal.  I left two pages open for this person, but some people only have one page.

The first page of my bullet journal. I left two pages open for this person, but some people only have one page.

I write my ancestor’s name as the page title.  If I have something I have to look up, I draw a box and write it down.  When I look for it, I mark the box with an X if I didn’t find it and a check if I did find it.  If I didn’t find it, I also write a quick note about why I couldn’t find it.  Doing so will prevent me from looking for it again in the future and wasting time.  If I find something that I didn’t think to look for while I’m doing my research, I add a bullet and write it down.  This indicates to me that it is a note and not something on which I need to take action.  Since a lot of my research is done on my breaks, this is very helpful for me.  I can look up one or two items and save the rest for later.  It also keeps me from getting distracted from my goals and researching a different person just so that I don’t forget to later.

In the genealogy class that I teach, one of the basic genealogy “do’s” is to make a list of what you want to research so that you can accomplish the goal and not get distracted, because, let’s face it, it’s easy to see multiple family names in an index or see suggestions on Ancestry.com and never get around to what we set out to research.  For me, I’ve always brought in a checklist and a blank sheet of paper or a notebook to make notes of the things I find that I need to look up later.  This journal combines both in a way that is easy for me to handle.  I don’t mean to sound like an advertisement here.  I just found this to be really useful and I thought I’d pass on what I’ve learned.