Keeping Track of Your Data


There are about as many different methods for keeping track of your data out there as there are researchers.

In the beginning though, I think that keeping it simple is going to suit you best. Of course, in the long run whatever method works best for you will be the best one to use.

With the advent of the internet there are just tons of electronic "family tree" systems.

At the first, using a paper system will most likely be much easier to work from. It will also be much less expensive then purchasing a program and finding that you either don't care for that one; or find out that you really don't want to research that badly. I don't intend to scare anyone off, you can get adequate programs in the 10-20 dollar range; and you can get elaborate ones for $100.00

Paper forms can easily be downloaded off the internet FOR FREE. Print these off as you need them and print on off for a "master form". I do this so that later when needed I can take that "one" to a copy place such as Kinkos and run off 50 copies or so for very little money.

You will find in your pursuit of forms that there are just an unlimited supply. For the beginner, or any researcher for that matter, the basic forms are:

The Pedigree Chart--this particular form is comprised of a skeleton type of framework. It begins with you and has spaces for data such as name of spouse, date of birth, marriage, death, cemetery, and places for those events. Your father and his data will branch off the top of yours and your mother underneath; each of those also containing the same data. Their parents will follow and proceed back through the generations.

The Family Chart-- This form is individual in that it deals with just ONE particular family at a time. Each parent is listed with further detailed data and then there are spaces below for the listing of each child of this couple and data on them.

These two charts will be more then adequate and present the information to you in such a way that you will be able to clearly view just what it is you have and what you need.

Once you have the data gained from family members, enter it into these charts. Work with them, filling in as you find data. Once you move into the computer program, you can add this data into them very simply. However, don't discard them just because you have a computer program.

Computers crash and data is lost.

As you continue to research, you will learn that much of the data you collect was much to hard to come by to either replace or just allow to get lost. Most researchers keep some form of a "paper file" just in case.

These forms are sized to fit perfectly into a standard spiral notebook. I advise using one of these as it keeps your papers together in one spot and reduces loss and disorganization.

Later on, you will of course move into different ways to store all your various data, however, for a good simple beginning; the above forms will suit your needs perfectly.

Here is an excellent link to download and print these forms from:

You will want to choose the ones for "Ancestral Chart" and "Family Group Sheets".

The next entry in these tips will cover the area of Mailing Lists and Postings.