Monday, August 3, 2015

Using OneNote to Create a Genealogy Toolbox

Today during the DearMyrtle "Mondays With Myrt" we got to talking about Toolboxes. I wanted to share a photo of the toolbox I made in OneNote and had a hard time figuring out a way to share. So I decided to write a blog post about it.

I got the idea from Christine Sisko Svircev at the "OneNote for Genealogy" group on Facebook. She posted a photo of how she created categories and sub-categories. It was colorful and that’s what attracted me to her post.

I had watched Thomas MacEntee talk about genealogy toolboxes either at an in-person lecture or via a webinar. Having only bookmarks in your browser is just not practical and so hard to keep organized. Plus there was no place you could annotate what this website was all about!

Enter OneNote. 

I had been using OneNote off and on. I like the Notebook set-up with Dividers and Pages. It’s how I organized my paper genealogy binders. So when I first started with OneNote in my Office 2010 program, I set up Family Notebooks with dividers for each person in the family.

This is one of my Family Notebooks. Each tab is a different person.
Each page is a different event in their life.
When I saw Christine’s version of her Toolbox, I decided to do one for myself.  I created a new Notebook. Within this Notebook I decided on some major categories which are the Dividers at the top:

·         Record Types
·         Tools
·         Nationalities
·         States
·         Laws
·         Surnames
·         Certification

These categories could be anything. To keep them organized and fun, I color coded each one by right-clicking on the tab and the last choice is “Section Color.” There are lots to choose from.

Here is one tab for Record Types with many subpages.

Now some of these categories can be further subdivided, such as Nationalities and States. 

Here is my California page under the States tab. 
At the right of the page, new pages can be added. For the States, I added one page for each state in the union. I don’t have ancestors from each state, but I might someday so I went ahead and made a page for it.

I discovered that I might want a page for a particular county and sub-pages and be made, too, as you can see with Alabama > Cherokee.  I will do the same for the countries in my Nationalities tab. 

This is a sub-page under the Alabama page. I may make sub pages for each counties in each states.
Here I put some information about when the county was created.
I hope this is helpful for you. Now my browser bookmarks list is much smaller.

Copyright © 2015 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Love the structure you set up, makes mine look like a mess. I requested to join the Facebook group. Thanks

    1. You're welcome! You'll learn a lot on the Facebook group.

  2. Great post, Lisa. I just started a notebook for resources and you have given me some more ideas!

  3. Great post! Just curious...what do you have in the tools section?

  4. Thanks for stopping by! The pages I have under the Tools tab are: One Note Info, Scrivener Info, Search Engines, Calculators & Tools, Free images, Timelines, Writing, Photo Techniques, Map Plotting, Copyright, Research Process Map, and Digitization.

  5. Interested in knowing how you save your One Note documents/files so they are endurable. My 2013 One Note files were unable to be even recognised as existing by the free One Note that came with a later computer. Literally couldn't find any One Note files on my computer or external hard drives. I took ages to even try it for it seemed just a quirky never will stay program. When I had to reinstall office to access my files I was upset for it made me realise I had no gaurantee my files would endure in One Note's own format and saving as PDF meant they were not later editable. I haven't used One note since. So if you know how to save files to future proof them do tell.

    1. I never thought about it before. I know every time I open the program it wants me to upgrade and I always say no. I have OneNote as part of Word2010. I had no idea later versions would not be able to open them. I'll have to investigate it. The toolbox is basically the only thing I use it for.


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