The key to being a good genealogist is to be well organised. As your research develops you will find that you have vast amounts of information which needs organising for easy retrieval of information. Being organised will help prevent you going over the same ground twice!
Always record the sources of any information you discover. Later in your research you may find conflicting pieces of evidence so it will be helpful if you have a record of where each piece of information came from so you can decide which piece of information is correct.
Treat old family stories etc. with a degree of caution and always aim to check the original records whenever possible.
3.2 Recording Information
Your family tree can be recorded on paper and by using computer software. Most genealogists these days use both methods. Computers enable quick sorting and retrieval of information but regular back ups should be made to ensure vital information is not list in the event of hardware failure or computer viruses etc.
Some particularly useful records forms are:
- Ancestral Charts
(allows you to record the ancestors from whom you directly descend)
- Family Group Sheets
(shows the birth marriage and death information for one family)
- Correspondence records
(helps you keep track of those with whom you have corresponded)
There is a wide selection of forms for genealogists on the Internet (put “genealogy forms” into Google). Some forms I like are available from these sites:
- Bailey’s Free Genealogy Forms
You can also buy pre-printed blank forms from family history fairs etc. I tend not to make as much use of forms as I used to as I use a computer to record my information and then use the completed reports available to replace the manually completed forms. When I am in a record office I use a pocket pc when I can, or a notebook if that is not allowed.
3.3 Unknown surnames
In your family tree you may have individuals where you may know the first name but not the surname. You can enter a term of your choice in place of the unknown name (for example “Unknown” or “—?—“) or you can simply leave the unknown name blank. Never enter a woman’s married name as her maiden name it will lead to confusion later.