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Archive for the ‘Helpful Hints’ Category

Source Documentation Examples

Frequently I get asked the correct way to source a document when entered into a genealogy software program. Most programs offer in their ‘Help’ link examples of how to do this but often you would need to go back and refer to it each time to enter a record to ensure you have completely it correctly.
Recently I read an article in Family Tree Magazine which offers a downloadable Source Documentation Cheat Sheet in PDF format that takes some of the guesswork out of how to do with by providing several useful examples. I have placed mine in the front sleeve of a binder I have which contain additional Research and other genealogy related essential charts .

Census Idea – Helpful Tips #3

This advice came from one of the Rootsweb Lists I read.  Upon filling out your census form, make copies of it to keep in your records. This will ensure that the next generations in your family won’t have to wait the required number of years for the census records to become public!

We will be doing this and a poster also suggested perhaps scanning and saving it to CD.  What an excellent idea!

Organizing Your Research – Helpful Tips #2

Organization is key when researching but like everything else, it does require some type of system and a bit of discipline. I’ve tried a few different systems over the years but my favourite one is the use of a filing cabinet with a colour coded filing system and tabs. I use two colours of files for my direct lines (one colour for my Maternal line and another for my Paternal line) and then another for the branches of the families. The files are in alphabetical order and each file folder has the name of my ancestor, Year of Birth and Death and an index card attached to the front with the name of their spouse and children. Inside I have a Checklist of all the records I have collected thus far which I use as an index and they are filed in chronological order by date of event. I’ve customized my Checklist using Excel since I work with both American and Italian records.
Next I include a copy of a Pedigree Chart and a Family Group Chart. As I research a person I make notes on the page in pencil. Anything I write in pencil means that I am still working on it or needs to be sourced. Once I confirm the info, I enter it into my FTM program, print a fresh completed sheet, date it and file it away. I also include a copy of my ancestor’s picture in the file if available.

Don’t forget to tune in Friday April 30 for the season finale of Who Do You Think You Are starring Spike Lee as he traces his slave ancestors.

Using Newsletters and Library Archives – Helpful Tips #1

Ancestry Logo

With so many sources of information available today and so many websites to choose from, it’s sometimes difficult to understand just what and how records are used for researching – especially if you are new to genealogy. As much as we would all just love to jump right in and begin researching this could probably be one of the biggest mistakes we make. One is almost guaranteed to miss an important clue. I can’t tell you how many sources I have had to revisit because I did this very same thing.

The answer to this is read, read, read! Every reputable website should have a newsletter or archive that should explain just how to read, understand or use the records available. Ancestry is no exception.

I subscribe to several newsletters and in several languages (I do this just to spice it up a bit). They are delivered directly to my inbox to an account in which I use just for this purpose. This keeps me current on which new records are being added to sites and how they are used. I also find the Learning Archives at Ancestry to be a treasure trove of information for both the new and seasoned researcher.

Recently, Ancestry posted this article on 10 Census Questions That Lead to More Answers which I think is worth a definite read. With the 2010 US Census in full swing, it’s interesting to note just how the census’s have changed over the years and what can be learned from them.


  • Appearance: Excellent
  • Ease of Navigation: Lots of Links to Choose from so stay focused or you will find your self backtracking quite a bit.
  • Quality of Information: Very Good but you will need to track migration patterns of your ancestors and variations in name spellings on your own.
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