In October of last year I began an experiment in getting myself organized called bullet journaling. It fed my list making tendencies and also my crafty side. I liked that I could make it as simple or decorative as I liked. It’s a flexible system to organize yourself. Eventually I began notebooks for a number of different purposes including my genealogy! I have been jotting stuff on post-its and scraps of paper for far too long. I thought a notebook with a focus on the known and unknown might help.
So I created a notebook to house my ancestors. In it I include my grandparents, great grandparents, and great great grandparents. This is a work in progress, but I thought I would share what I have done so far. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to create your own version or you might have suggestions of other things I might think to consider. So, here we go!
I started with a notebook that I had on hand. I have a bit of an addiction when it comes to office supplies… if I see a cute notebook or colorful pens… I struggle not to buy them! So when I had come across this notebook at Staples I had only hesitated for a moment before springing for it. I then took the notebook and added my own little accents to the front and back covers. I added the countries of origin of my ancestors to the front.
On the back, I added the surnames of my great grandparents.
Within the notebook I even added a little something to remind me of what inspires me. This photo is of a wall hanging that was in my Grandma Morse’s house. I used to read and reread this wall hanging when I spent the night at her house. She watched me frequently in the years before my mom remarried and we moved to Ohio. I used some washi tape to add the photo to my notebook. If you are new to washi tape- it’s simply a decorative tape that is usually able to be placed and then can be re-positioned as needed. There are lots of decorative tapes out there, but not all are able to be re-positioned. I often screw up when I first tape something so I like having the option to fix when something is crooked. After all, I am a bit of a perfectionist (it’s that engineer side of me).
Next I created a very basic index page. It could have been more detailed, but I wanted to be able to quickly find the generations I was interested in. So I just listed grandparents, great grandparents, etc.
My next set of pages was a kind of surname list of my ancestors. I divided the pages into sections and added the surnames and the given names of my ancestors. As I work my way back through the generations I will add more to these as I go.
So then I went through and started adding pages specific to my grandparents. Here are the pages for my paternal grandfather, Billie Thomas Alford. I blurred out some of the details that pertained to those living.
The first section I made is focused on his vital information… birth, marriage, children, and death. Here you can see not only that my grandfather was married previously and that he had a child before he married my grandmother.
I went on to create a section titled “Tidbits of Interest” where I wrote about some of the other interesting aspects of his life. I wrote about how he was raised by his Aunt & Uncle as mentioned in the previous blog post. His different occupations, religion, and hobbies. I also included a mention of the source of the information too.
Another section that I included was a spot for the questions that I still have. It’s just a reminder to me of some things I still need to research or ask my extended family.
Lastly I added a small area where I could list any DNA testing that has occurred or who I might get tested if the opportunity arises.
So as I progress through my book I’m sure I’ll continue to add new elements. Or perhaps I will include some of the other lines of the family? I look forward to your thoughts on how you might approach genealogy journaling and please feel free to share your thoughts on what I’ve done so far.
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