Trello for Genealogists: March Tech Moment

NOTE: Tech Moments is a new series that will post once a month in 2024. Please remember that a “moment” is meant to bring an awareness of tech tools that can aid genealogists. It’s most definitely not an in-depth lesson on how to use a product.

Trello offers itself as a “productivity powerhouse” and it does, indeed, have many strengths. I’ve actually been aware of Trello for quite a while, but hadn’t heard it mentioned much in the genealogy world for quite a while so I decided to take a new look at Trello’s features.

First, I need to mention that, while there are several paid plan levels, they are relevant for team and/or business setting collaborations contributing to a large project. The free version is offered to individuals who work alone or perhaps are collaborating with a handful of people. As you can see, the free features are more than enough for the average family researcher.

With that out of the way, for those who have never heard of Trello, in simple terms, it’s an online note card system, albeit one that offers many more sophisticated features than a 3 x 5 note card, that organizes many pieces of information in one place using the Storyboard concept as an organizational tool.

Storyboards can be public or private, cards can be printed and exported and attachments can even be added to cards. Trello can be integrated with Dropbox, Google Drive and other websites and there are apps for mobile devices. However, Trello access is in the cloud, not saved on your own computer.

How can Trello be used by genealogists?

  1. Researchers can create storyboards for each genealogy project. Categories are TO DO, DOING and DONE. However, users can customize groupings under each of those categories. I’ve been working on my Thornton ancestors who settled in Rhode Island in the 1600s. I might name my project board THORNTONS and then set up categories of items to research, such as Land Records, Probate Records, Vital Records, Town Council Minutes, etc., which essentially are my TO DO items. I can then add all the resources I need to access in each of those research categories.
  2. When I research a brand new-to-me locality, I like to get an overview of what resources are available. A Trello storyboard would be an excellent method to create a locality guide.
  3. For genetic genealogists, DNA matches can be managed and organized in Trello, by name, shared cM, contact information, etc.
  4. Professional genealogists can use Trello to organize client projects in progress.
  5. For bloggers, Trello offers an efficient way to organize posts. Storyboards can be created for post ideas, posts that need research and posts that need to be written. They can be checked off when completed.
  6. Do you have a much bigger project in mind – like writing a family history or attending a family reunion? Trello storyboards would be perfect for organizing the tasks to be completed and interview questions for attendees.

How do I get started in Trello and what does a storyboard in progess look like?

It’s very easy to set up a free Trello account. Just provide an email address, create a password and verify the account through your email link. That’s all there is to it! Once an account has been created, just follow the prompts to begin using Trello. Very simple!

Here’s the beginning of a very simple storyboard based on my Thornton research:

From the options on each side of my cards, you can see some of the choices available in my workspace.

This is just a snippet explanation of all the Trello can do.

To learn more about Trello, here are several videos:

Trello Tour – on the Trello website

How to Use TRELLO – Tutorial for Beginners (2021)

How to UseTrello – Full Beginners Guide (2021)

Trello Tutorial: How to Use Trello to CRUSH Your Productivity (For Beginners and Entrepreneurs)

2 thoughts on “Trello for Genealogists: March Tech Moment”

  1. I tried Trello, but my brain just doesn’t work that way…probably the same reason I can’t, for the life of me, keep a research log.

  2. My friend and I use Trello to plan our research trips. Our next trip is to north Texas. We have cards for repositories, cemeteries, historical societies, and tourist stuff.

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