View on OneDrive

Research Quandaries Notebook


Let’s just dive right into the notebook. The Research Quandaries notebook you can see on OneDrive is not how mine currently looks. (Of course!) In the blank notebook, I have set up the first few Sections after the Inbox to show you examples of how to use those Sections as set up under the Section Group for each Quandary grouping. Clear as mud? Thought so…

The Sections titled Research Notes and Sources are actually found in each Research Quandary Section Group in the blank notebook. I added in a few example pages to show how you could use those Sections while doing research.

You might do broad searches at or Ancestry and copy and paste the results in the Research Notes Section to start. If you need to do a little research about what resources are available in the area you are searching (especially if it is a new area for you), you could add that information to the Research Notes section as well.

Once you start doing research and will need to keep links handy, use the Sources Section. See Bas-Rhin Sources and New York Sources Sections for examples.

Generally, I use the Inbox for sending information to OneNote that I clip when I am online. Sometimes you come across a record that is relevant to several people or families — marriage records, passenger lists, etc. I stick this in the Inbox and then sort it by copying it to the relevant people Sections later.



My Research Quandaries notebook front section actually looks like this:

There is a Research Notes Section there because almost every immigrant family on my father’s side settled in New York. So the Naturalization Records link I have showing above, for example, pertains to the Zittel, Bamberg, Dermeyer and Jansen quandaries that I am working on. Rather than have it linked four times — once for each Section Group — I just have it in that first part of my notebook.

You can see I rename every Research Quandary Section Group for whatever surname I am working on, i.e.: Zittel, Bamberg, Cuntz, Dermeyer, Jansen. I use a number in Section Group names to keep them in the order I want them in, otherwise the default order is alphabetical.

I have a Section for Ancestry’s ThruLines™ because I am searching for clues to my mom’s paternity. Every time I check ThruLines™ I make a screenshot of any changes that show up. A change to someone’s tree on Ancestry could make changes to mom’s ThruLines.™ When I check it on occasion, I make screenshots of changes I’ve noticed and add them to that Section so I have a record of something that could change again overnight.



The very first Section after the Inbox in my notebook is a table with all my Direct Line Ancestors listed — the ones that have DNA connections or reliable sources. I try not add anyone to my direct lines any more unless there is DNA evidence and/or record sources that make sense. The table is helping me keep track of important steps in the process of adding family groups to my (previously imploded) family tree and Surname notebooks.



Notebook comparisons

I’m hoping that seeing these two screen clips side-by-side will help you see the differences between the blank Research Quandaries notebook and my Research Quandaries notebook rather than me drawing arrows and using circles to explain it all. The difference between the two notebooks shown above is partly due to the one on the left being a screen clip of the blank notebook from OneDrive and the one on the right being a screen clip from my Research Quandaries notebook open in the OneNote app on my laptop.

On the left, the blank notebook has a 01 Research Quandary Section Group. The front portion of that Section Group includes an Inbox, Research Notes, Sources 1 and Sources 2 Section. Inside the 01 Research Quandary Section Group itself are two other Section Groups — 01 Family Group and 02 Family Group. Each of those Section Groups has an Inbox and Sections for the people you are researching. They are just like a Surname notebook section except that I haven’t added in all the templates to each person’s section. You can do that as needed.

On the right, in My Research Quandaries notebook is the Zittel Zygology Section Group. You can see that I had to make three Family Groups in the Zittel Zygology quandary. Members of the Zittel, Hausauer and Ottman families emigrated together to Sheldon, New York in 1833. (Other members of each family came as well at different times and settled in different areas of New York, but that is a quandary for another time…) I have the Hausauer Family Group opened so you can see that the sections are labeled, just like in a Surname notebook, with the names of ancestors and family members.


As you can imagine (or maybe you have firsthand experience?), trying to work with three family groups of multiple generations at once in a Surname notebook could result in a bit of a mess. Having this special place to make a mess and then clean it all up before entering everything into a Surname notebook, a genealogy program or an online tree makes my genealogy research so much easier.

Until next time,


Cite This Page:

Erin Williamson Klein, “Intro to my Research Quandaries notebook.” My Family History Files, 10 April 2020. ( : [access date]).

Please do not copy without attribution and link back to this page.

Let’s do some genealogy! We’ll also suspend reality and pretend that it hasn’t been five years since I’ve written a blog post… Well, I have written a few in my head but was too busy being a caregiver to people in two separate households to get them posted. On the research side of things, there simply wasn’t enough time to spend long hours doing research over the last five years. I tried to quench1 my thirst for research in small bits. In the end, it didn’t do much to satisfy my need to research, fall down rabbit holes and chase after bright shiny objects. I’m afraid I didn’t do much real research at all. Then in 2017, there was the DNA testing that imploded my tree — a tree that I had spent 25 years researching! It left me with less than half of my original tree and only two surname notebooks. It’s still heart-wrenching to think about at times. A long story that I will save for another post. Let’s keep this upbeat, shall we?

In the last six months, I’ve been able to spend some quality time doing research. I soon realized that there was a need for a separate notebook just for research quandaries.2 My brand new surname notebook was quickly becoming quite messy. A quagmire3 was developing. I didn’t like it. And so, the Research Quandaries OneNote notebook was born. Now the question remains, how best to do screen shots? Screen shots using OneNote 2016 would be best because the Sections are shown across the top of the notebook and pages down the left-hand side making it easier to show how things are organized. However support for that version is going away later this year, leaving us with OneNote for Win10. Let me just say, it’s not my favorite version. Hmm, another quandary… (Side note: I just read in the MS blog that support for ON2016 is ongoing until October 2023 which solves my quandary.)

Too many “q” words for you? Sorry, it can’t be helped. One of my caregiver jobs was for a quilting friend who has a fondness for alliteration. It’s rubbed off on me over the last five years.

Hoping this link to the notebook on OneDrive works… READ THIS FIRST

View on OneDrive

Research Quandaries Notebook

I’ll use my research to explain how the Research Quandaries notebook is set up, and how I am using it for research before putting all the gathered sources and information into my Surname notebooks. Here is what is in the queue in the Research Quandaries notebook:

1) Zittel Zygology4: Helping two DNA cousin-matches (CousinB and CousinTD) connect their Zittel lines to mine.

2) Bamberg Bramble: The quagmire that has resulted in Ancestry trees because three John A. Bambergs emigrated from Bavaria to Buffalo, New York in 1847. Two of them had sons named John A. Bamberg. And, if I am remembering correctly, three had wives named Margaret. It’s enough to make you want to down a Bramble on the rocks!5 (Not that I’ve ever had one. Therefore, I really cannot attest to its effectiveness in calming the nerves or helping to reason out quandaries. However, I will mention that large quantities of alcohol are rarely a good solution to any problem. Just saying.)

3) Cuntz – A Closed Cold Case: How I managed to tumble down a brick wall for my 3rd-great-grandmother which resulted in a DNA cousin-match (CousinTS) contacting me with help carrying that line back generations. I’ll explain how I gathered together the information in my research notebook and then added it to my Buisch Surname notebook.

4) Dermeyer Debacle6: This one needs a picture to explain…

I’m afraid I can’t even wrap my head around what this ThruLines™ image implies. LOL It looks to me that ThruLines™ is suggesting one set of 4th-great-grandparents produced offspring that married, which resulted in the birth of one of my 2nd-great-grandparents. Uhm, no. Just no.

5) Jansen Jumble7: This one needs a table to explain…

Christina Jansen birth place

If sources show Christina Jansen’s place of birth leaning strongly towards Prussia/Germany, why are Ancestry trees filling up with sources linked to a Christina Jansen born in the Netherlands?? I think this is a fire that needs to be quashed8 before it spreads much further.

Perhaps I should have opened with a quirky humor alert? Nah, that wouldn’t have been any fun. I am picturing the eye rolls and laughing to myself.

Until next time,


1 Quench: (verb) 1. satisfy (one’s thirst) by drinking. 2. extinguish (a fire).

2 Quandary: (noun) 1. a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation.

3 Quagmire: (noun) 1. a soft boggy area of land that gives way underfoot. 2. an awkward, complex, or hazardous situation.

4 Zygology: (noun) 1. the science of fastening things together.

5 Bramble cocktail: Dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup, crème de mûre, and crushed ice. Finish off the cocktail with fresh fruit, such as blackberries or cranberries and a slice of lemon.

6 Debacle: (noun) 1. a sudden and ignominious failure; a fiasco.

7 Jumble: (noun) 1. an untidy collection or pile of things. 2. mix up in a confused or untidy way.

8 Quashed: (verb) 1. reject or void, especially by legal procedure. 2. Put an end to; suppress.

Cite This Page:

Erin Williamson Klein, “Going a little quackers during the quarantine?” My Family History Files, 7 April 2020 ( [access date]).

Please do not copy without attribution and link back to this page.

research-workflow-apr2015If you would like to view in PDF, it’s here

Following up on my post for Cycle 2 Week 1, here is my new workflow chart. Or should it be work flowchart? (Whatever.) It is a simplified version of the chart I originally posted here during the first cycle of the Genealogy Do-Over. This one uses the names of the pages in OneNote that I enter data into. It has all the elements that I am trying to capture in OneNote listed on it:

  1. A Research Plan with Research Log
  2. Source Description Page that is where I describe the source, cite it, paste a JPG of source, link to the source on my hard drive and transcribe it.
  3. Source Log (A listing of all the sources I have for an individual or family group to help with writing proof statements if I need to examine other sources and as a resource to see what other sources I might need.)
  4. Family Group Records
  5. Timelines
  6. Proof Statements

This is mostly for my own reference as it relates to the final version of my Chronological Surname Notebook that I am using to document my family history. I am putting everything in OneNote as a way to leave something behind that others can build on and to be able to easily share it with others in PDF or printed form.

Cycle 2 Week 2 Topics:

  1. Setting Research Goals
  2. Conducting Self Interview
  3. Conducting Family Interviews

Because this is my second time through the 13 weeks, I didn’t have much to do for Week 2. Last time through, I had decided I wouldn’t be able to conduct many family interviews for the current line I am working on as there wasn’t anyone left in the previous generations and opted not to do them. Same thing for this cycle. I did my self-interview in the form of a Timeline created in MSWord. I use Timelines to list life events in chronological order for my ancestors. A Timeline helps to show where there are gaps and conflicting information and where sources are needed. Those items can be used to set research goals and/or make a research plan. (I’ll post an Ancestry video by Anne Mitchell at the end of the post that was helpful to me in learning to create timelines if you are interested.)


My research goals for the first cycle through the Genealogy Do-Over were to prove my birth, marriage, divorce and birth of my 4 children; my parents’ birth and marriage; father’s death and siblings’ births and deaths. There were a few documents in my files and my mom’s files that were missing so I added obtaining them to my To-Do List in OneNote. My research goals this time through the Genealogy Do-Over are to concentrate on my father’s parents.

Research Goals Cycle 2 Week 2:

  1. Prove birth date and parents’ names for Raymond Curtis Williamson
  2. Prove birth date and parents’ names for Grace Rose Buisch
  3. Prove marriage date of Ray and Grace
  4. Prove death date for Raymond Williamson
  5. Prove death date for Grace Williamson

This is the first page of my grandfather’s timeline embedded into a page in OneNote.


As you can see, there is a discrepancy in the records I have for the year of his birth.  I have written for a copy of his birth certificate and I have a theory about why his birth year is one year later on his draft registration that I will include in my Proof Statement. For my grandmother, birth records were not being kept for that time period in Batavia, New York. I will contemplate some ideas for a work-around in my Research Plan.

I’m not going to get ahead of myself here though, because tracking and conducting research are next week’s topics!


Creating Timelines: A 15 minute tutorial by Anne Mitchell (AKA: Ancestry Anne)


Cite This Page:

Erin Williamson Klein, “Gen Do-Over: Cycle 2 Week 2.” My Family History Files, 14 April 2015 ( : [access date]).

Please do not copy without attribution and link back to this page.



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A bit about me

Erin Williamson Klein
New York to Nevada
Started my research in 1993

Following the GPS!

Sourced Database Statistics:

2 of 2 people identified as parents
4 of 4 people identified as grandparents
8 of 8 people identified as great-grandparents
16 of 16 people identified as 2x great-parents
30 of 32 people identified as 3x great-grandparents
44 of 64 people identified as 4x great-grandparents
52 of 128 people identified as 5x great-grandparents
32 of 256 people identified as 6x great-grandparents
14 of 512 people identified as 7x great-grandparents
8 of 1024 people identified as 8x great-grandparents

Participating In:

WikiTree worldwide family tree
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November 2020 NanoWriMo
50,404 of 50,000 words written about my ancestors.