Search billions of records on


From the Green Valley News, Friday June 3, 2005, page B9

Genealogy Today, by Betty Malesky

Organization is the key to success.

Organization is the key to success in genealogy. Many tools have been developed to help keep you on track. When the information you’ve collected is arranged so that you can tell what you have and what you need to find, you’re ready to begin serious research.

Genealogy charts and forms are necessary tools and readily available if you have Internet access. Forms can be downloaded free from several websites including at and Family Tree Magazine’s website at Various forms and charts can also be purchased inexpensively from organizations such as the New England Historic and Genealogical Society, telephone toll-free1-888-296-3447.

Useful forms are the Family Group Sheet, 4 or 5 Generation Pedigree (Ancestral) Chart, Census Forms, Research Log, and Correspondence Record. The Family Group Sheet and Pedigree Chart are crucial to organizing your data.

A Family Group Sheet lists all of the pertinent data for a single-family group, i.e., parents’ and children’s full names with dates and places of birth, marriage, and death (BMD) for each family member. A Pedigree Chart lists basic BMD data for you and your ancestors. The initial chart displays the first four generations of your family starting with yourself, then your parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Subsequent charts continue the line from each of the persons in the last generation on the previous chart.

Census forms, custom designed for each U.S. census year, are used to transcribe family data as it appears on the original census record. The latter two forms are basically lists to help in your research. The Research Log is a record of each source you intend to search, the date used and results found. The Correspondence Record is a list of persons and places to which you’ve written for information, with dates when a letter was sent and reply received. While preprinted forms are nice, the same results can be accomplished via computer spreadsheet or in a simple handwritten notebook. The important thing is to have a system and use it to avoid wasting time and duplicating efforts.

Many genealogy software programs are available today to aid in organizing and accumulating data. A software program will print genealogy charts, forms and reports in various formats to simplify sharing your information with family members and other researchers. Most programs can even print a book about your family from the data you enter.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) offers a basic genealogy program called Personal Ancestral File (PAF). It can be downloaded free at or purchased for $6.00 from the church distribution center by calling 1-800-537-5971 and asking for item 77065999. The program is straightforward and fairly easy to learn. The LDS Family History Center in Tucson, AZ periodically schedules classes to help users make better use of PAF. If you decide later you want to purchase one of the commercial programs, your data can be easily transferred from PAF to another program via a GEDCOM file.

Next month, "Preparing a Research Plan"

Return To GVGS Home Page Previous article Next article Newsletter Index Valid XHTML 1.0

This page last modified on Saturday, 23-Dec-2006 19:59:39 MST