Every genealogist knows that it can be difficult to keep your genealogy papers organized. Disorganization can lead to having to re-do research that you’ve already done because you can’t find it, retracing your steps when you don’t need to do so, or accidentally researching someone else’s tree. But how is a genealogist to keep it all straight?
Charts, Forms, and Diagrams
Charts, forms, and diagrams can help a researcher organize the large amount of data that has been collected. I think everyone knows the basic charts, such as a pedigree chart and a family group sheet. But did you know that there are so many more free charts, forms, and diagrams available for downloading or printing from the web (a great place to look is Cyndi’s List)? There are a variety of charts for different styles, needs, and wants. For example, one of my favorites is the Goal-Oriented Research Form from ShoeStringGenealogy.
But if you cannot find one that suits your needs or wants, then I highly suggest that you make one. By using a word processor program or spreadsheet program, it is no longer a difficult task to create charts, forms and diagrams (For a free word processor and spreadsheet program, I suggest OpenOffice). There is also the option to just hand-draw your own charts, forms, or diagrams.
As a visual person, it is important for me to be able to see the details of my family tree. I am a huge fan of sitting on my bedroom floor and laying out every piece of evidence when trying to solve an ancestral puzzle. This helps me see any time gaps that need to be filled and provides me with ideas of other records to search.
What charts, forms, and diagrams (other than pedigree charts and family group sheets) do you regularly use?
- “Conquering The Paper Monster Once and For All“ by Elyse Doerflinger.
- “Organizing Your Family History Research: Efficient & Effective Ways to Gather and Protect Your Genealogical Research” by Sharon Carmack
- Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates (DVD)