Family History Research

Is there anyone here interested in research on Family History?

I am interested in learning if anyone has developed forms that have proved helpful to them.

I need to develop a DIY notebook that covers all the research tidbits that you find as you search.
I have lots of bits of paper lying about.

I am thinking classic size, I think. :)

Any hints are welcome.


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There are numerous sites

There are numerous sites that provide wonderful forms that can help. Try Family, has free forms, Cyndi's list has links to numerous sites.
I have done family history research for the last 15 years.


I will give them a try. :)


There should be something useful in that list.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson) ***

Take pictures or photocopies


Forms are great, but hand-writing stuff out in the library sucks. Bring lots of change or a digital camera and take pictures of what you find.

I did a ton a census research at libraries, and it was really hard to re-write everything I found, and I wore myself out writing reams of stuff, then later found that I hadn't grabbed a copy of that 'suspicious' record that might or might not have been related...

Copies--photocopies or photographs or digital images--are really really useful. It took me weeks to figure out what the handwriting said for one of my relatives' names.. I tried to trace it from the microfilm.

When Ancestry started bringing out all the census images on the internet I was amazed and grateful and also chagrined because of how much easier it is now to do the same research I had done painstakingly with pencil and paper..

The form you should have for your research is the form for questions you have as you look through materials.. That is, a reference to the source material, location, what the question is, why the question matters, what you need to do to get the answer, and how important it is to get the answer, and maybe whether it's been answered and what the answer is. If you don't have a list of what you're looking for when you go to the courthouse or whatever, you'll be guaranteed to forget something you could have researched while you were there.

For example..supposing you get a will for an ancestor, and it names someone you've never heard of. The question is 'who is this person' but without the reference to the will you miss the context of the question. Does it matter because you want to see if so-and-so's descendant still has the Rembrandt? Where can you look to figure out who this person is? Maybe it's a neighbor or a creditor or a friend..

Maybe for each question you need a page to list all the places you've looked to find the answer.. For example, you looked at other wills for your ancestor's brothers and that person wasn't named. And you checked the census and that person wasn't listed on the same street or anywhere nearby.. Or you discover three people by that name nearby and you need to research further to figure out which one it was..

A really key point is a filing system--a good one, that has room for your stuff, good categories for your stuff, and can be replicated in both paper and digital forms so you don't have to print everything or scan everything.. There used to be an Access database tool called Clooz that purported to be a digital filing system/reference numbering system for genealogists. Duplicating the entries by typing is just as bad, IMHO, as having to rewrite stuff by hand. But the concept of giving things a number and cross-referencing them is good if you have the persistence to keep it up.

When I was doing my research I picked up a workbook that had perfs in it for tearing out the forms they provided. The forms were good, and they helped me a lot with my census research in those days. I am sure the links the others have provided are the equivalent of that old book. But nowdays I'd skip the census forms and just copy images down from Ancestry, honestly. Having a scan of the original material is far better evidence than a handwritten transcription anyway.

Good luck with your research. Genealogy is one of those things that can generate a ton of paper and files--staying organized is the toughest part.


Thanks for responding and I agree with you.

I am on and getting copies of the originals is so much better. I also remember the "good old day." I remember the first time I noticed that someone else was doing work on MY ancestors. It took a while to realize my ancestors were "our" ancestors and not be so controlling.

I have set up a filing system for information on my computer.
I have a file for every family titled with the head of household name, usually the father.\
then in that folder I have separate folders for husband, wife and each of the children by name.

Then, there is a place for everyone to be. When the information pertains to the whole family, there is also a file with the name of "items for family."

I put the photographs in the folder of the person they represent. There is a folder for "family pics" also.

The first level (folder), is for instance, Thomas William Murdock Family
(All of the levels (folders) below are put into the folder above.)
2nd level, Thomas file, wife (Pedovia) file, then a file with each child's name
3rd level, Items for the family and Family Pics.

These files are printed out and put into a corresponding paper file system.

I think your suggestion for a form is just what I need. The information these days that took me weeks to aquire in the old days, now only takes hours.

I also use Roots Magic as a database.

Isn't this fun!!! :)

filing pain


My difficulty with filing things by family is that a lot of my families broke up and re-formed with other members.

For example, the husband dies and the wife remarries, having more children..or the wife dies and the husband takes several more wives in succession, each time having more children..

I think if I were going to pick up my research again (I set it down about ten years ago), I would have to revamp my system substantially. Clooz numbers each individual and then you list the records that pertain to that individual with their number. Can't remember if there was a function for 'merging' two numbered individuals when you prove they're the same person, but there should have been. There was one individual (well, two) that I was trying to prove that for when I set my research aside.

Of course, the genealogy softwares are better now for recording proofs, I think. So maybe having a zillion folders for individuals/families isn't necessary if the software can hold it all. I don't know. That was always where my system fell down, was attaching documents to people. I tended to keep a folder for each type of record, labeled with source/page, when I had copies of original docs.

I didn't have trouble with 'controlling' the research on my ancestors. One of my problems was taking other people's discoveries too much at face value..that is, as if they were all proven. There were lots of people working on older branches of my various families--even published books and unpublished books about them. It's very easy to say "Oh, he's done a lot of good research, I'll just plug his tree into mine." And it's a rookie mistake.

I am fairly sure there's no 'right' way to store your stuff, there's only "right for you".