A research plan and related notes are required for any successful genealogical research project. Each of us has a method or methods that we use with some level of success.
Some of us use our laptop or smartphones to reference research plan files. Others use paper notes that they carry on research trips. I use the tasks that I’ve created in my Legacy database. That tool has worked well for me over the years and I’ll continue to use it. However ….
Recently, I found myself unexpectedly stopping at a library without my laptop, my notes and apparently without a functioning memory tool in my brain. The library had ‘stuff’ that I really wanted but I couldn’t remember exactly what I needed and time was limited.
Even though the library had Internet access, I couldn’t get to my files at home because I don’t run server apps on my home servers that can be accessed from the outside world. Without my research plan and notes, I had to guess at what I probably wanted. The fact that closing time was near only added to the pressure of finding what I hoped to obtain if I ever visited this location.
Lesson learned. There had to be a way to access my research notes and images from any computer in the world via the Internet. Posting the data in private directories on one of my websites was an option but I didn’t want to take the time to install and customize a CMS or other application just for these notes.
Evernote came to mind, but it didn’t have some of the functions that I wanted to use. I’d heard about Springpad and decided to give it a try. It was a good choice.
Springpad is accessed directly through your browser or on your smartphone. Creating an account is free. You can use your login credentials from other entities such as Google, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook or you can create a user account directly on the site.
Springpad can be used for a large variety of useful applications, but let’s look at it from a Genealogical Researchers point of view.
Create New Notebook
Click on the “+” icon on the desktop to create your new Genealogy Research Notebook. Name it, change the color, etc., to make it meaningful to you.
Create A Note
Add the details, links, images and other information for each person or activity you want to follow in your plan.
Tasks function as your ToDo entries. Add details, links, images, due dates, alarms, etc., for each of them. I have my tasks send me reminder email messages a few days ahead of the due date that I’ve established to complete the task.
Take a few minutes and create tags for each entry so you can search for them later. Set flags and permissions. Springpad allows you to share each Note or Task with others if you change the permissions accordingly.
Click on the “+” on the top right corner of the screen to create another Note or Task. I title them using the surname of the person associated with them and then sort by name. Example: Logie, Rosa Clara ……
You can add images, links, movies, etc., to your Notes and Tasks. Just add the URL link path to them. Images will need to be posted on your Picasa, Flickr or called from another online site.
Inside each Note or Task you can add additional Notes, Tasks, etc. Use them to keep track of your related progress and comments. If you are working with others, you can instruct Springpad to send email to them and grant them access rights to your post.
When you complete a Task in your Research, click on the Task icon to mark it completed. It won’t be deleted until you mark it for deletion.
Springpad also gives you a “Board” (think post-it board) in each of your Notebooks. Use it to post notes, maps or other items like you would on the wall board by your phone at home.
I’ve created a separate Notebook with a list of Genealogy related links and another one for Technology links and notes, in addition to those used for family and social activities.
Give Springpad a try and see if it meets the needs of some of your genealogy research and note taking / storage activities. Leave a comment here or make a blog post about how you are using Springpad in your family history quest.
Once you spend a little time with Springpad, you’ll undoubted find it to be very useful in many aspects of your daily life too.
Here’s Jeff Janer, CEO of Springpad, showing Springpad to Leo Leporte and Amber MacArthur on the twit@night show.
Disclaimer: There is no disclaimer. I’m just a happy user of Springpad.