There are many tools you can use to make your genealogy and family history research easier. This can be as simple as a paper form to a software program.
The most popular tool is the PEDIGREE CHART (sometimes referred to as the Ancestor Chart). Usually starting with yourself, you will write in your parents names, then their parent’s names, and then their parent’s names, etc. as far back as you can go. In addition to the names, you will try to get the birth date and place, marriage date and place, death date and place of each person, and all their children’s names. This will give you a starting point from which to fill in the family group sheets for each generation going back. Pedigree Charts come in a variety of styles like fan charts and bow tie charts to name a few. MGS has a number of different styles of pedigree charts for sale at our Library/Resource Centre.
The second most common tool to start your genealogy search is a FAMILY GROUP SHEET. This sheet is a form that has a place to fill in the husband, wife and children (the family group) along with their birth, baptism/christening, marriage, death and burial information. The husband and wife sections have a place for their parent’s names. If a person had more than one spouse, you would use another Family Group Sheet for that particular family. If you are using a genealogy software program, Family Group Sheets are used there also. It is the best way to get the first batch of information from a family member.
The third most popular record is the DESCENDANT CHART. This is basically a list starting with a specific person designated as generation 1, their spouse, then indenting the 2nd generation and listing generation one’s children. This would continue for each successive generation, with each generation being placed under their parents, indented and labelled by the generation number. Basic information on a Descendant Chart includes birth date and place, baptism/christening date and place, death date and place, and burial date and place. The marriage date and place is usually listed with the name of the spouse and their data.
Always cite your sources. When someone tells you something it is considered anecdotal information; genealogists use that information to find the data source or citation to prove that the data given is correct.
It is important to keep track of what you have searched for and where you searched. Most genealogists keep a record with date, and details of their search for each person they look up information for. It can be as simple as using a sheet of paper, or as complicated as having a specific form. Everyone has their own system, and over time will create a spreadsheet or form to track their research in a way that makes sense for them.
There are some nice genealogy cheat sheets online that give you ideas of where to search for information for their ancestors. These are usually generic lists with things like census records, land records, military records, funeral homes, etc. on it.
Ancestry.com’s charts and forms
Cyndi’s List genealogy charts and forms