Thursday, February 2, 2017

My Genealogy Bullet Journal, Month 2

Public Domain Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Some say that doing something daily for 30 days is enough time and opportunity to establish a habit. After using my Genealogy Bullet Journal for the month of January, I can state that I have established a new habit. A habit that enhances the way I research. A habit I feel will stay with me into the future.

Last month I posted about starting my Genealogy Bullet Journal. Frankly I wasn't sure exactly how or even why I would use it, but I felt bullet journaling was a trend worth investigating. Here are some of the things I tried and learned through January's 31 days.
  • I experimented with several different weekly spreads, trying to find one that suited me. After all starting with a blank journal gives you the opportunity to try different things, different looks, add your touch. I've ended up settling on the basic spread shown in my first post. I found that amount and organization of space has been enough for what I wanted to note and record for any given day.

  • Yes, it is SO tempting to add color, stamps, stickers, you name it to a bullet journal. I confess, I picked up a set of planner stamps on sale at my local craft store. 
    • I like putting an ! or * or thumbs up to indicate success. They are a good balance for the frowny faces :( I draw when I've spent an afternoon or two looking, or searching, or reading and found nothing that advances my research, all that negative research that is a real part of genealogy. I still enjoy looking at photos of all those beautifully designed bujos (bullet journals) on Instagram and Pinterest, but my ministampers will probably be the extent of my bujo creativity. 
    • The list stamp has proven to be helpful. Just stamp it on a sticky note, list up to six places I plan to look for information about that person or event, and I'm ready to go. All research questions won't focus on using the same sources. My check list stamp encourages me to consider the wide variety of possible sources to use, some online, some at a library or in a book, something in my files that might warrant a closer look. 
  • Every once in a while, we stumble upon something that is some simple, yet so great. That is the way I feel about my 3F idea - First File Fifteen minutes. Having those seven task boxes across a page of my weekly spread kept me going. Besides seeing my document pile shrink, there was also that simple little kid joy in seeing all seven boxes marked as tasks completed for the week. By the end of January, I had actually looked at, read over, and filed about 3 inches of documents in my file basket, all relating to my Perkinson family tree. This filing time was a daily warm up to more serious research. Now, for February, I'm starting to dig through the stuff relating to my husband's Nelson family tree. And later, once that pile is cleared, I'll spend time looking through my files to see what needs to be placed elsewhere, clear out duplicates, determine new questions for which to seek an answer. Filing, like laundry, will be an ongoing task!
  • I am learning to use and rely on the Collections section of my bujo. First, as I filed, if I had a question or noticed something needing further research, I finally had a place to record it. On days when I wasn't sure exactly as to what I wanted or needed to research, I could turn to my Research Questions in the Collections section, choose a question I had previously recorded and I was good to go for several days.
    • Here is just one example. I had printed out a family group sheet on the William Huey Family that I had found on It listed names, dates, children, their spouses for my 4th Great Grandfather's family but NO sources. My first research question was to try to verify the information on this printout along with a note as to the folder and item number where the printout was filed. I'm still working on this project, but I'm also finding a few sources for some of the information on the printout.
    • Learning more about the Hueys has lead me to add another collection section, one I'm calling my Treasure Chest. After spending parts of a week browsing through the Pennsylvania Archives on, looking for anything about the Hueys, I added a note describing this resource in my Treasure Chest. I wrote "Pennsylvania" in large letters, then a paragraph to describe the types of information I found there - things like marriage records, rosters of militia, immigration information complete with a physical description of the immigrant and his/her family background. Even though I found only a few Huey facts, I know I want to remember this resources in the future when researching ancestors in 1650-1800 Pennsylvania, even if it is months from now that I jump back into some Pennsylvania area research.
  • Having the big picture of my yearly spread is helping me better plan for blog posts and research times. Now that we have some family trips, looking after grandchildren, and a few get-togethers listed, I can see times in which to plan or add on some research trips. 
  • My bujo isn't replacing my detailed research log. Instead it supplements my research. I add a few notes in my daily block noting the family, area, topic, or source I researched. Looking back over my diary entries for the month of January, I get a feel for what I did and can gain ideas as to other approaches or resources to use. I can also see that I've spent enough time, for now, on looking for the Hueys in early 1700s. It is about time to move on to another question. My actual research log will continue to be the private notes I add for an individual in Family Tree Maker.
Meanwhile, I've also started a personal bullet journal. It too has the 3F filing blocks which I'm using to get our household files in order and to look for any paperwork needed for filing our taxes for the year. I've also added daily check boxes for my walking / exercising. On the daily spread, there are notes about progress on some of those household projects we want need to address in 2017. There is also room for journaling my reflections on things I read or the Bible study in which I am involved. The yearly and monthly calendars contain lists of our family activities and various volunteer commitments. Another bujo as individual as its writer.

It looks like I'm hooked on bullet journaling. Where is my heart stamp when I need it?

#bulletjournal #genealogybulletjournal #genealogyresources #organizinginformation #researchgoals #researchtips


  1. Glad to hear you are having such success! I haven't gotten into a routine yet. I like the checklist stamp you mentioned. Where did you get it?

    1. The ministampers and the list stamp are by Create 365 The Happy Planner. They were a set at my local chain craft store, but the list stamp is also available online. It fits perfectly on a 3x3 sticky note that I can move from page to page as long as I need it.