DTPO & Genealogical Research Part 2

In my recent posting where I gave an account of how I used DTPO in my Genealogical research I covered my basic usage of DTPO with the Genealogical software Reunion, in this posting I take this to the next stage and show how I use DTPO to carry out further research.

A lot of time is spent in getting information into DTPO and it is easy to then sit back and say to oneself, “job done.” But there is no point in getting all this data nicely sorted if then you do not use it for researching further into your family’s history, I have found that the Devon suite of applications, (I use DEVONthink Pro Office and DEVONagent) facilitates good research and saves a lot of time and frustration. There is one feature of DTPO that stands out as being very useful in this respect, the ability to make Annotations is a very important function, Data>New from Template>Annotation. I use Annotations quite extensively as they enable me to identify further areas of research. What follows is probably the most useful of all my Annotations and I have devised a template specifically for this that I find very helpful to attach to a document that needs further research. I have entitled this template “Memorabilia Checklist” and it contains a list of suggestions of things to do to aid further research. Here is an image of my Memorobilia Checklist Annotation Template. (I adapted this from the book by Karen Foy, “Ancestors in the Attic”, History Press Ltd 2012, a very good resource for dealing with memorabilia).

The items on the checklist can, of course, be adapted for appropriate use and I do not have to stick slavishly to it as other questions crop up I try to address them and make a note on the annotation. Also some questions are not appropriate to the document that I am researching further.

The beauty of having this attached to a document is that I can easily identify areas of further research and when I have done that research I enter the results after the appropriate question. This is a neat way of getting a clear picture of what was going on in my ancestor’s life and for me really is the interest of genealogy in the first place.

It also serves as a rudimentary record of where and when I have done research. I really ought to develop this aspect further as I am not good and a bit lazy about recording details such as these! What I should be doing is making a note of when, where and whether or not my research has been successful…suggestions welcome!

All I have got to do now is find a way in which this annotation template could be automatically attached to a document when I import it into DTPO, that would be great—said with tongue firmly in cheek!

So briefly my workflow when, say, Aunt Mabel sends me a box of “Uncle Bob’s stuff” is to straight away sort it into date order, scan or photograph it, import the resulting documents into the appropriate Groups in DTPO, put into Reunion any information that is thrown up and create links between the item and Reunion, identify items that need further research and attach the above template to it, then do the fun bit of research.

Hope this is of interest and I will, of course, be very pleased to answer any questions if you have any.

I’ve been doing genealogy for about 5 years. Initially I had all stuff in Finder, but after a year or two I moved it all to DEVONthink, when I realised how flexible & powerful it is. I started with the setup described by Ben Sayer, but later added a Families group, and now mostly work in there. I regularly make a script or template, whenever I find I’m performing the same tasks more than, say, 3 times in a row. I now have about a dozen templates & scripts.
I have not yet made up my mind on a genealogy application. I have Gramps, MacFamilyTree and Rootsmagic installed.

Indeed. And sometimes it comes to you from unexpected corners. I recently was given a ± 1860 cupboard by my mother - she did not remember where it came from. When I pulled it away from the wall I was surprised with a railroad label, mentioning the station where it was presumably delivered from or to. And that railroad was my paternal great-grandfather’s employer. This station was closed at a time when he was living in a town on the same line, just 15 km away. He must have appropriated it some way or other.
The point being that you en passant become knowledgeable in various unrelated fields while researching your ancestry, which contributes to the understanding of their lives. Of course that cupboard (“meidenkast”) did not go back into hiding - it was restored, and now serves to hide my TV.

Indeed again. I soon found I was doing the same search over & over. After searching the web for research log I reworked a template script to produce such a log:

The script gets some info from the user through a Pashua UI, and:

  • names the log in a fixed format: Log | |
  • fills in some fields in the header

Header fields are:

  • target; this can be a person, couple, location, whatever
  • start date
  • objective; what I’m looking for, i.e. a birth certificate, or a couple’s children
  • status; content open makes this log show up in a Smart Group
  • known; that is, any relevant facts about the target I already have

Log fields are:

  • date of search
  • repository searched, what and how
  • result, if any; what to do next
  • document found and/or conclusions

I sometimes delete the log table, when a narrative-type log is more suitable.
The next problem is how to deal with any by-catch, which happens quite often, and often distracts from the initial goal

Thanks, Alastor for sharing the info (and very cool about that cupboard!) Cheers!

@alastor933 Thank you for this and I like the template especially as it looks so professional. Just one thing I wonder if you could translate for us the contents of the template into English, especially the various headings? I can guess at some but others are beyond me! Thanks again for this valuable input. :smiley:

Well, I did add a description of the headings. Or are you curious about the actual search?

Sorry, I obviously had a bit of a mind blank :blush: the headings etc are fine.


I have been inconsistently been using Reunion’s 'Log" function for building my to-do lists, those things that require more research. Does your use of annotations allow you to generate a to-do list by person?

Or is there another avenue for tracking and building research avenues?

Thanks, grant