When my new twitter pal Alex Coles tweeted several great examples of how she uses Outlook to stay organized for her favorite hobby genealogy, I asked her if she would create a guest post for Arrow-Tips readers. You’ll notice a few points that I’ve made in past Arrow-Tips (great minds think alike), but I thought you might enjoy learning how someone from a different perspective benefits from Outlook. Enjoy and don’t forget to check out Alex’s website listed in her bio below!
Genealogy may be a hobby rather than my job, but it’s still important to maximize “me-time”. Keeping track of any correspondence with the world-wide community of genealogists and not losing sight of numerous threads of research are both tasks that Outlook can assist with.
As well as researching my own ancestry, I am undertaking a one-place-study of the village of Wing in Buckinghamshire, England. Through my website I get enquiries and emails from others who also have ancestors in that village. All these emails go into their own Outlook folder automatically thanks to Outlook’s email rules. A copy of my replies also go automatically into this folder – all this correspondence is therefore in one place and easy to find. Any correspondence that comes in the form of comments posted to my companion blog is automatically emailed to me and filed away as well.
Each of my fellow genealogists gets their own Contact card, created by dragging their email onto the Contacts folder. Alternative or old email addresses for them are also added into Email 2 and Email 3 fields. The Activities feature of the card can then automatically search out all emails to and from that particular genealogist. If they have a website, blog, or a family tree uploaded to one of the many genealogy websites, I add the website link.
In each card’s Address field I add as much detail as I have – each county in England has their own records office and archives, so knowing that someone you’ve helped in the past happens to live in the county in which you might want a look-up is very handy! The Notes field I use to record which of the various families in Wing they are descended from, along with any particular assistance they have provided and any background information they’ve mentioned that might be useful. The search feature within Contacts can then be used to locate any of these details.
Using the Tasks feature of Outlook is relatively new to me, but it’s certainly much less stressful than endlessly snoozing those pesky reminders on optimistic Calendar appointments I’d made with myself! Promised to look into a particular family or issue for someone? Create a task. Only gotten part way transcribing a will and have to put it down? Create a task. Have a great idea for a new page for the website? Create a task (with a date months in the future as I know I won’t get to it for quite a while!). Many genealogical websites extend their databases frequently so revisiting periodically to look for your families is important – I’ve created some regenerating tasks to check them on a regular basis, making a note of any particular tips relevant to their search engine or reminders about what I’m hoping to find.
This means when I do get time to work on genealogy there’s a handy list of the various things I’d been meaning to do, and an easy way to find who might be able to help me with it. How does Outlook help you with your pastimes?
Alex Coles is an enthusiastic amateur genealogist from Auckland, New Zealand, researching her ancestors from England and Wales. Her website is Wing One Place Study and another of her ancestral places is honoured in her Twitter name @wychwoodnz.
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