I was chatting with a friend and fellow genealogist when I typed, “I really should make a spreadsheet of all my contacts with people for the different families.” Her response, “That’s a great idea!!” Then she encouraged me to write an article about that, so here it is, and the spreadsheet has begun. I doubt this is a novel topic, but this is my idea.
If you’re like me, you have kept every single genealogy contact email, 23andMe message, MyHeritage message, and Ancestry message you’ve ever received, as well as written letters of yore. Sometimes when I go back and look for something, I’m reminded of a ball I dropped. Oops!
Don’t worry if you don’t have a spreadsheet program. I use Libre Office. It’s stable and free, available for several platforms, including Mac and Windows, and can import from as well as export to other spreadsheet formats such as MS Word.
This spreadsheet can be as simple or as complicated as you wish to make it. I’m better at starting out simple. Initially, I am including the family name(s), contact name, email address or other method of contact, where I received the contact (23andMe, which of my email addresses, a blog comment, etc.), and possibly the first and most recent times we communicated. I also may want to (and probably should) specify where paper contact documents are stored in my files.
Here is a screenshot showing some fake examples.
I hope this idea can help you to keep track of your genealogy contacts. It is helping me to get organized with them!