Research

ORGANIZING AND COLLABORATING

Have you ever wondered whether there is a more efficient and productive method to take notes and gather relevant details about your research topic? After spending countless hours researching and writing my last book Memories of Ol’ Red Hook and now collaborating for some quick, cursory research on several towns in Germany in the 1700s, I am sharing some user-friendly tools.

My go-to tool for organizing and collaborating is Google Keep. If you’ve ever carried around index cards, notebooks, or discovered that your research was on your desktop at home, you will appreciate that Google Keep is accessible anywhere that you can sign into Google. You can use it on your desk top and all of your devices.

Envision post-it notes covering your desk, exploding from a book or getting lost or crumpled at the bottom of a backpack. Your Keep notes can be organized in several ways. When creating the note, I begin by selecting a color for the specific sub-topic. With just one click and a burst of color, I have now designated that all of my notes on one ancestor are pink or yellow or lavender. Eleven colors and white as the default are available.

Creating a label is my next step. By selecting the drop down, I can add a label, add a drawing, or make a list (show tick boxes). Once you have created the label, you merely need to select it not re-type it for the next note.

Since I am collaborating on this project, I select the share icon and type in an email.

Now, I am ready to create a title. For this project, my title is “Location Name of Ancestor”.

Since searches by color, label, collaborator, and title or part of title can be done, I have now organized all of my notes. For example, when I type Location in the search bar, I have all of my notes on the locations for all of my ancestors in Germany.

It is now time to start taking notes! I can type, draw, and/or add an image all in one note or separate notes as desired.

Henry Z. Jones, Jr. is the foremost expert on Palatine research. His authoritative research is inval-uable to all researchers focusing on the history of the Palatines.
His books are available in many historical societies.

Since our focus is pinpointing where these ancestors were in Germany before coming to America in the early 1700s, we are accessing Henry Z. Jones’ 2 volume set The Palatine Families of New York 1710, ancestry.com for primary source documents, Google Earth, and Wikipedia (only for a quick overview of the location before using other sources). Quick screen shots take the place of typed notes in many cases. Note: Bibliographic information for all sources is on a separate note.

The drop down menu pictured above shows a few additional options not yet mentioned. Most notable among these are the options to copy to Google Docs and to place a pin on any item you want to stay at the top of your notes.

My collaborator and I have noticed that colors and labels do not carry over when shared . We decided to coordinate these at the start of the project, so it just takes a moment to organize once a shared note is received.

Although the shared images are from the desktop version of Google Keep, I also use this Google product on my devices. On our Iphones , we record audio notes and set reminders for our on-the-go schedules. For us, Google Keep is a keeper for organizing and collaborating while researching.

Check back soon. I will be sharing the results of my experimentation with Google Earth as a valuable tool for historic research.

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