Start Your Research on the Right Foot 30

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Forms are like crack for genealogists. I can’t imagine trying to do my genealogy research without my forms. I have forms for pretty much everything! I’m going to share some of my favorites with you. I certainly wish I had these forms when I was beginning my research. Live and learn.

Sure, I have digital forms that I use, but we’re going old school now. The forms below are all printed and filled in by hand. That’s right. Actual paper.


Family Group Sheet

My Family Group Sheet 2015 is probably the one I use the most. There is one of these sheets in the folders I keep for each individual in my tree (spouses have a copy of the same sheet). It’s not too dissimilar from other family group sheets, but I like to use this one for several reasons:

  1. It has a place for me to put my sources. Obviously, the space is not meant for a complete citation; just a note so I can see at a glance where I got the information.
  2. It allows me to list additional spouses. I don’t know about you, but my tree is full of second, third, and even fourth marriages. I didn’t leave enough room for more than one additional spouse, but you can always number then and write on the back.
  3. I can list the spouses of the children and when they were married. If critical information might be found in one of the children’s records, I don’t want to have to dig through a bunch of records just to figure out what daughter Mary’s married name is.

Completed Search Checklist

Every item on this Completed Search Checklist isn’t meant to apply to each individual in my tree. I use it more to jog my memory about record groups where I might find information than anything else. There is nothing worse than hitting a dead end with your research and then having a mental block about where to look next. Like salt in the wound. Plus, when you list the census years and locations together, it’s easy to see patterns or gaps, which could lead you to even more records.

Blank 1940 Census form

Blank 1940 Census form


Because the 1940 census asked so many questions and all the available blank forms are so tiny they’re essentially useless, I created this Blank 1940 Census form. It spans four pages, but it allows plenty of room to transcribe the information from the census records. The final page is strictly for the supplemental questions. I have yet to fill out one of these pages. Hopefully you’ll have better luck. Just be sure to include the line numbers on each page or it’s easy to confuse information from one page to the next (don’t ask me how I know).


Census Comparison Worksheet


Tracking a family through several census years can be a lot like herding cats. This Census Worksheet makes it so much easier! It basically helps you visualize the family’s movements through the various censuses to see migration patterns, determine where babies were born, where couples may have married, and where people may have died. I color code the boxes when an individual dies, marries, or is found living with another family. It is meant to begin with the earliest census and progress in time to the latest census on which either or both of the parents appear.

All of these forms have helped me immensely while researching, analyzing, and resolving conflicts in my data. Feel free to download them for your own use (click each image to download). However, with the exception of the 1940 census form, I would highly recommend that you fill them in using a pencil. It’s still too painful to talk about; just know that I speak from experience.

About Jenny Lanctot

Jenny Lanctot is a paralegal, genealogist, and writer. In addition to her regular column Getting Started in IDG’s digital magazine Going In-Depth, she writes her personal blog Are My Roots Showing? and is a regular contributor to the FGS Voice blog. Her articles have appeared in the Florida State Genealogical Society newsletter Florida Lines and the Chattanooga Delta Genealogy Society quarterly Southern Roots & Shoots.

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