Spreadsheet, Forms and research

                         To an "old school" records searcher who trudged through snow, rain and heat to read records, Google Document Spreadsheets are a lifesaver. I still trudge to the libraries, family history centers and courthouses. I still xerox or fill notebooks or download (if permissable) on a flashdrive but lately I have moved on to use Google Documents spreadsheets. When I work with myraids of microfilm in Slovakia or Hungary and hundreds of records, the data collected seems easier to handle on these Excel- like spreadsheets online, especially while using the Forms utility.

My only regret is that I did not do it sooner.

Google Documents is free. It moves with you. It saves things automatically as soon as you type them in.

Thomas MacEntee at http://hidefgen.com/ and http://hackgenealogy.com/ has some great tutorials on video about ways to use Google Docs in genealogy. He invented the use of "forms" for research logs that has been great to use for records notation. Forms is easy once you customize it for your research log. Once you have the feilds set up in Forms, when you input your data, the end results is in a spreadsheet. 

As for working with the Excel-like  spreadsheets, one titles a Google spreadsheet, you create headings in the first row ( surname, dates , page no., places, notes, ect.) that are suitable for the type of document you are reading and then type information in as you go along.  I freeze and "bold" the  top heading titles. I do not stop to organize while I read. I just do data entry as I go along. Later, I categorize my findings by arranging them alphabetically with the sort command, create timelines, organize them chronologically or sometimes create family groups. I also make notes of witnesses, ages, occupations, status and even the reading legibility condition of the records. You can also plug in a column for the repository or URL of the record if it's available online. If I start another set search through a different film number or village, I label a new sheet in the workbook. By the way, Excel also has the  "forms"  utility which is not typically on there until you add it to your Quick Acess toolbar. I had some training in Excel so it does not faze me but the spreadsheet on Google Documents is simple enough for text values purposes, and it is mostly text, some dates and no calculations.

Tom's link to his Google Docs for Genealogy video: http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/webinars.asp or one of his websites at : http://hidefgen.com/. You can also directly preview his video of using Forms here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KowSY1Om3Ls. He also created a Forms template which is how I started on the wonders of Forms at http://tinyurl.com/mt22e6n