I’ve been working on keeping a Research Notebook based on a single surname. For example, I have an Excel Workbook with worksheets for 4 generations of my Smith line starting with my great-grandfather. Each family has a worksheet for their Research Plan and Inventory. I have a single worksheet to keep track of all Land Transactions for the Smith surname in the counties I am researching including siblings of my direct line ancestors.

Recently, I was asked about a way to keep track of DNA matches in my notebooks. This could be an additional worksheet within my workbook. My family is quite a tangled mess due to lots of intermarrying, so if I decide that I want to attempt this in my Smith notebook, I’ll probably have to come up with a 2 color system to show if a match is related in more than one way to explain why the cM numbers are so high. For this post, I thought I’d show an example of what I did for my son-in-law’s DNA matches.

What I’m doing is creating a “tree” of sorts. The top line shows the common ancestor that a group of matches has. The row below that has all of the children for that couple. I decided to go ahead and include all of the children instead of just the ones that have matches to save me a little time later on as more matches become available. (Although I do have some families that have more than a dozen kids and I might rethink how many to include for those lines!) Once children are entered, I merge all of the cells above into one wide cell to show that Oscar and Louise are the parents of all the cells in the next row.

When entering the 3rd generation, I insert columns to have enough for those kids and after entering the names, I merge the cells above those children into 1 parent cell. (I usually have more information in the cells like full names, relevant dates, etc. but I switched to initials for this example because some of these people are still living.)

I have also done with with 4 generations with even more DNA matches, but the chart becomes quite wide at that point, so I didn’t want to use that as my example.

When I find a DNA match, I include the number of centimorgans and I add color to a cell to see the matches quickly.

In my son-in-law’s case, we don’t know how he is related to this family. If we did, I would include his direct line all the way back to the common ancestor to help determine if a match is a 2nd cousin once removed, etc. I’d then confirm the relationship makes sense by using the free Shared cM tool found on the DNA Painter website.

I do like the idea of having everything possible about a surname available in one master workbook, so this may be something for me to consider as well!