Genealogy Research Forms – The Key To Organization

Well, we meet once again ready to continue to the next step of organizing your family’s genealogical history.

I know that it appears that I am addressing a beginning audience as per the last two articles. But, as in my case, I started years ago and was not organized. I found myself overwhelmed with so much information. So, I studied and became organized.

In this age of digital research and organization, there are many tools. We will get into a discussion about those tools and how to use them later.

Even if you’re already using some digital tools, I still feel the need to have a paper trail in the form of a filing system with hard copies of your research. There is a way to use both, and they complement each other.

Research Tools

The ability to keep track of all the information you have about an ancestor can be overwhelming. That is why there are several types of forms you can use to keep yourself on track and organized. It is vitally important to know how to use and organize these forms, so they are useful in your research. In this article, we are going to find out what type of genealogy research forms there are and how to use a few of them.

After your introduction to Pedigree Charts, you were able to fill in your related names with valuable information. Following, you will find a list of useful reports, logs, lists, and a brief definition of their use. These are items that should be in each Surname folder or binder section.

Binder Sections

1. Check List of contents: A list of the forms, logs, and list needed in each Surname folder or binder.

2. Pedigree Chart: A working copy of 4 or 5 generations for each Surname.

Download (PDF, 88KB)

3. Family Group Form: A record of an entire family. Record Husband and Wife’s dates and places of events, their children, and spouses.

4. Timeline Chart: A chronology of the family’s life events.

5. Research Log: Record the research you found about the family and source information.

6. Correspondence Log: Keeping track of incoming and outgoing correspondence.

7. Cross Reference Log: Needed when a document refers to more than one ancestor.

8. Map Log: With a history of the geographical location of an ancestor’s period.

9. Notes: Written various bits of information for later recording and filing.

10. To Do List: A list to record missing details about the family that needs follow up research.

11. Photos: Photocopies of the originals.

12. Documentation: Photocopies of originals

Forms and Charts

Genealogy Research Forms- Screen shot

Pedigree Charts: If you are filling out your 5-generation pedigree, continue to do so. If you only have names at this point, names are the start of any research.

The Pedigree chart in each Surname hanging file or binder will be page 2 through 17 — a page for each of your 16 great-great-grandparents. Page 1 with you as No.1 will be in your surname hanging file or binder. Plus, page 2 of your name with No.1 on this chart being your surname’s, great-great-grandfather.

It would be best to use a pen or pencil at this point as you are still filling out each pedigree chart. Also, you could edit the PDF and type the information.

Family Group Form: This genealogy research form will detail each family group listing the following information. Family Group Form

  1. Husband
  2. Wife
    1. Given name(s), Last name(surname)
    2. Day Month(name) Year and Place for each of the following events.
      1. Born
      2. Christened
      3. Died
      4. Buried
      5. Married
      6. Husbands Father and Mother(maiden) names
      7. Wife’s Father and Mother(maiden) names
  3. Children
    1. Sex
    2. Given name(s), Last name (surname)
    3. Day Month(name) Year and Place for each of the following events.
      1. Born
      2. Christened
      3. Died
      4. Spouse(given name(s), Last name(surname)
      5. Married

Timeline Chart: This is an excellent reference. Which you will use a lot in analyzing your information.Timeline Canada Census  Timeline UK Census  Timeline US Census

Timelines are unbelievably valuable in researching. You list the important events by dates in chronological order. Also, add if you find your ancestor in any records, stating dates, places, and other important facts. You should also add what is going on in the history of where they are living to add a paper trail to follow to find other possibilities.


Another value group of research forms is different types of research logs. They are a great tool in your research arsenal.

Research Log: The best reference for what you have looked at while on the research trail and the results.  Research Log

Record documentation references, dates of when you did the research, and results for each ancestor you research. Label the documents in your research log. Refer to the numbered certificate in cross-reference and the date of inquiry—description, and location of the source. The repository, condition of origin, the period covered, note the film, and call number. Come up with a code for information found, and if nothing is found to use ‘ws’ for the worksheet of information found or ‘nil’ for nothing discovered.

Correspondence Log: Keeping track of incoming and outgoing emails, letters, or phone conversations. Correspondence Log

Log each with a number, date, and highlight the information to use in your research on the ancestor. Label each and put it in the surname hanging folder or binder. Put the most recent printed correspondence log in front. File alphabetically in the correspondence by the individual’s last name or the institution. You should reference no information for letters that have not received an answered reply or have a negative information reply.

Cross Reference Log: When you are researching an ancestor, you might find a document that refers to another ancestor that is of interest.  Cross Reference Log

It would help if you had a way of keeping track of where you found the new ancestor’s name to go back when it is time to research another ancestor.

At this point, write in the cross-reference log who you were searching and who you also found. Don’t get distracted.


Map Log: To determine the history of the family’s geographical locations.  Map Log

When trying to place your ancestor in a specific area, you need to access the right research record. So, you will have to determine if the political boundaries are correct with the research documentation.

Sometimes finding the longitude and latitude on a map in that period of history is the way to go. When politics enters the picture often, the names and boundaries of towns and cities have changed.

Have a map copied to aid you in your research — also, research history of the land during the period of your ancestor.

List and Worksheet

Notes Worksheet: Note-taking and filing will be a continuous process. We collect information and feed that information into our filing system.  Notes Worksheet

It helps us:

  • Avoid duplication of research.
  • Analyze your source materials.
  • Check evidence.
  • Document your research.
  • Support your conclusions.

After each research day, takes notes and posts new information into your family group form, pedigree chart, timeline chart, etc.

To-Do List: When one concentrates on a particular ancestor and go through the process of research. Suddenly a thought occurs, “I need to find a resource.”  To-Do-List

The idea occurs. So, you need to write that ‘thought’ down and date it as well. Then you need to keep track of the results.

Having ideas is an ongoing process. Write down the thought — research from your list. Record the results in the proper document forms, check off when complete. The reference your keep will be of great value in your research.

Check List of contents: This will be the first item in your Surname Hanging folder or Binder. You can check off the details when completed. Also, you can write notes if needed to help you stay organized.   Checklist of contents

Orderly Research

Original Photos and Documents need to keep in a secure and safe place and out of sight, not handled while doing research.

It is essential to use photocopies of pictures and documents. File these copies in your working hanging folders or binders. If you wish, you can have both systems set up and keep original documents or pictures in your binder.

It is so rewarding to have everything orderly by using genealogy research forms. They become an asset. They keep every aspect of research for your ancestors uncluttered. So, you don’t have to revisit and start over every time. You can pick up from where you left off.

Thanks for your interest in this topic and for taking the time. Please feel free to comment below and let me know your thoughts on the subject and anyway I can be of assistance.


4 thoughts on “Genealogy Research Forms – The Key To Organization”

  1. Excellent article on how to organize genealogical research! I have to be honest, this stuff makes my head explode. But my great-aunt does it a lot! She’s kind of the family historian. That’s my mother’s side though. I really should do this because of my father’s side, which is mostly unknown to me. He passed when I was young.

    So my great-aunt and my uncle discovered that my great-grandfather and his twin were adopted by their mother’s new husband and finding out their real surname and the history of that family was super exciting! I just wish I was more interested in the research itself.

    Thanks for the organization tips. I’ll have to pass it along to my great-aunt, as she’s not on social media or anything. 

    • Thank you, I know what you mean about the headache, It can be quite tedious and time consuming, but I’m sure your Aunt can attest to the fact that is really worth it and so rewarding. Sounds like your family had a challenge with your great grandfather’s line, but good to hear you had success. 

      Thank you, for taking the time to comment.

      Kindest Regards


  2. Thanks for your tutorial on forms you need to complete your genealogy.  My parents were way into doing genealogy long before the advent of online genealogy platforms, and I remember them having all of those forms.  Genealogy is one of those hobbies where if you aren’t organized, you will surely lose track of important details.  Our family has a master tree that they hang up on the wall for every reunion, that tells us all exactly how we are related.  The tree goes clear around a large auditorium on the walls.  So, keeping track of your relatives is a monumental task, one that takes organization, as you say.  Thanks for the informative post!  

    • You are welcome, I feel it is always good to know how to keep a paper trail of ones research starting with the basics and moving up. It is so wonderful to hear about your family and the huge investment of time and energy they have spent on your families history. And with their organizational skills have been able to keep your family connected. The family tree you described, I bet looks awesome. Reunions are the best. 

      Thank you, for taking the time to comment. 

      Kindest regards


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