Being organized is the real key being successful and pleased with your family history research. If you feel you are getting no where or ‘spinning your wheels’ without much success, it just may be that you need some orderliness in your pursue of your family lineage.
Anyone who done genealogy for any length of time will confirm that you have to have some system to know what you have, what your sources were and what you still need. You may think just a simple tree outline with your grandparent’s names is sufficient. If that were the case it would be like a palm-thatched structure with no roof, windows, or doors and that could collapse with one good gust of wind. It would be very incomplete and lacking in reaching any full potential. You owe it to your ancestors to tell their full story.
So using the free Rootsweb.com slate of charts and forms is an excellent method to help you get organized. All these various forms are downloadable to your computer using the Acrobat Reader. The site explains how to download the free Acrobat Reader if you do not have one.
The numerous charts and forms include an Ancestral Chart which starts with you and moves to your parents and then their parents taking it to the fourth generation. Here the names, birth, marriage and died dates and places are listed. If you don’t know a place or date, it is left blank and that would be an area that needs research.
Use the Research Calendar and the Research Extract, especially if you use a genealogy library, a public library or the Family History Centers of the LDS. Here you place the date and source number, what it is (property deed, baptism record, etc), the time period and any other necessary notes. Do the same for any data gathered from any Internet databases such as Ancestry.com.
A Family Group Sheet is can be used to follow just one family branch. For instance your mother’s brother, information on your uncle can be gathered on this one sheet. His marriage, children, occupations, etc. are all together.
A good form that goes with the family group sheet is the Source Summary for Family Information sheet. Here for each individual family you can record where certain information came from. If it was from a book about your uncle’s business he owned, the name and details can be included.
You will find you do need to write to various courthouses, state agencies, genealogical societies, fellow researchers and libraries for assistance or ordering of vital records. You will need to record who, when and what was ordered just so you don’t order the same item twice. Also you can check if it has been four to six months and no word from those you contacted. This Correspondence Record includes email messages.
Next are the column titles for all the U. S. census forms covering 1790 to 1930 is provided. Also there are the Slave and Veterans Census Schedules which you just might need for any ancestor in the last half of the 19th century.
Most families have at least relative who lived the United Kingdom and / or Canada from the 1840s into the early 20th century. These census forms do need explanation to better know what your ancestor’s responses were.
So simple, not difficult, but oh so useful. Finish with some file drawer, box, folders, storage case, etc. to keep these charts and forms as well as vital records safe, they are valuable.