When it comes to researching your family history you will need to be organised, recording all the different information from your LDS family searches in an organised fashion will make your job much easier. In order to keep your records organised you should make use of a number of genealogical forms that are available to any genealogists that are looking to streamline their research. The four main types of these forms are family group sheets, pedigree charts, correspondence logs and research logs. There are many more types of forms available for you to use but these are the ones that you will find yourself using much more frequently and they will act as the foundation for recording the information you find from your LDS family search.
The first form and perhaps the most important is the pedigree chart. The pedigree chart or ancestral chart as it is sometimes referred to can be used to record general information and display it in a format that is more visual. Depending on the type of pedigree form that you are using you will find that that you can record information of from anywhere between 4 and 9 generations. Many genealogical software programs create these type of charts automatically but you should get used to the layout of these forms and understand each section so that you can create your own pedigree charts when you are researching and do not have access to your computer.
You should start entering your own personal information on the pedigree chart in the box which will be located on the far left of the form. Your name, place and date of birth and where you got married (if appropriate) should be entered in this section of the chart. This first part of the form will usually be labelled “1” and depending on the type of form you are using there may or may not be space for you to enter details of your spouse.
The lines labelled “2” in the upper part of the chart is where you need to enter the details of your father, Name, location and date of birth, marriage and death if appropriate. You should then go on to enter your paternal grandfathers details in the section labelled “4” with your paternal Grandmothers details going into the section labelled “5”, with the details of their parents respectively being entered into sections 8 – 11 this makes up the details for generation four.
The bottom part of the chart labelled “3” is where you will enter the same type of details but this time it will be the details of your mother that you use. Section 6 will contain the details of your mother’s father (maternal grandfather) and section 7 is where you will enter the details of maternal grandmother. Next you will enter the details of your maternal grandfather and maternal grandmother’s parents in sections 12, 13, 14 and 15 respectively.
After you have done this you will now have information of multiple generations of your family in an easy to view format. If there are certain details that you have not been able to fill in you will easily be able to see what information you are missing and this is what you will use as a starting point to further your research and you now have a place to record the missing information once your research is complete.
If you want to add details of other generations then you can do this by linking another pedigree chart, for example if you wanted to go deeper than four generations by say including details of your fathers family line then you could. To include your great grandfather and beyond then you should start by entering the details of your great grandfather in the section labelled “1” on the second chart and then continue on from there.
The next form that you are going to want to familiarise yourself with is the family group sheet. Again there are a number of variations of the family group sheet depending upon which program you are using to record your family history, however the information that is to be recorded is almost always identical. There is a location at the top of the form where you can input the husband’s name, date of birth, marriage and death information as well as the names of his mother and father. You will need to record the exact same information for the wife, on a side note if either of the husband or wife were ever married more than once then you will need to record these marriages on a separate family record sheet for each marriage.
The bottom portion of the family record sheet is where you can enter the details of any children that were born into that specific marriage. The information can include birth date, birth order number, birth location, marriage date, spouses name and date of death if applicable. Just as you should have done when recording your family information on the pedigree chart you will need to make sure you have documented evidence to support the information you have recorded in the family group sheet. The types of documents can include birth certificates, marriage certificates and death certificates.
One of the key advantages to using family record sheets and pedigree charts is that it makes it easier to plan out your research much more effectively. You can simply decide which member of your family you want to pursue researching and plan your efforts around this. Another advantage to having this information recorded is that whenever you are researching in the field such as at a family history centre you can show your forms to the librarian and they will have a better understanding of what it is that you need to fulfil your research and they will be able to assist you.
There are another two types of form that will prove to be invaluable when it comes to organising your family tree research and these are the correspondence log and the research log. When it comes to recording information regarding your family history the need to document the sources where you found your information is of paramount importance. When you are out and about on a research trip or even when performing online research you should be recording details such as what you looked at, details of where you found any information, what information was it that you found (or didn’t find) in the source you looked and any other relevant information and comments that could come in handy later. For your research log to record all this information you can create a simple table in Word with Header columns labelled, date, archive/library, book title, author, publication details, information (if any) that was found and comments. If you continue to fill in information to this table whenever you perform any research you will find that later it will provide you with a detailed account of all your research sources and if you need to find any of these sources again all of the information that you need is right there in your research log so you won’t have to spend hours looking through books for a specific piece of information.
Finally you will want to create another simple table in word which will act as your correspondence log. During your family research you may find that you have to contact another family member or a court house for records or other documents that will support your research. Column headers may include date of contact, contact type (telephone, email etc.), contacts name, contacts address, response received or not received, information received and a general comments section. Just like your research log if you fill in this form as you perform your research you will easily be able to go back and cross reference information that you have received and see where the information came from in case you need to get back in touch with the individual.
Making use of these four basic forms can save you hours of work keep you organised and make your research time more productive.