If you are trying to get started on family tree research, you might be interested in knowing how best to keep track of all of the information that you are finding (and are going to find!) about your ancestors. In my own research, I have a filing system that I use to keep individual dossiers about each of my ancestors, especially the more recent ones. One of the most valuable tools is an Ancestor Biographical Information Worksheet, which I made for myself when I was trying to figure out the best system for genealogical organization.
In this article, I will discuss:
- some reasons to use an Ancestor Biographical Worksheet
- how to use the worksheet with a filing system
- who you should keep track of with the worksheet
- How to get a free copy of the one that I use for my own family tree
Why use a worksheet like this?
When I am trying to find out some quick information about an ancestor, and I don’t want to deal with logging in to some website and waiting for my tree to load, pecking around for the right link to click, etc, it can be very frustrating and a huge waste of time. I have little kids! I don’t have time to constantly search around for every little date, etc.
In order to solve this problem, I decided to create a worksheet where I could have all of the information that I would frequently reference, and keep it at the front of a file folder for each person that I am working. on.
Sometimes, the worksheet is all I have in the folder, even though I want to have more. Sometimes, I don’t have all of the information filled out, but it helps me keep track of what I still have left to learn.
This worksheet is four pages long, and has spaces for just about any biographically important information about our ancestors.
Which ancestors should I use it with?
We are all human, and as humans, we are imperfect. And as imperfect beings, we are admittedly more interested in certain ancestors than others. This doesn’t mean that we don’t know that all of our ancestors contributed equally to our existence through their DNA. But for some reason, certain people in our family trees attract our attention more than others. And those people who attract our attention are likely to lead us to acquire documents and papers related to their lives, and because of that, the Ancestor Biographical Information Worksheet is very helpful for understand their lives.
How to use the Ancestor Biographical Information Worksheet with a filing system?
I have a small portable plastic filing “box”. It can fit several dozen file folders. Inside the filing box, I have individual manila folders for each ancestor that I am researching. They are listed in alphabetical order, to make it easier to locate their file if I need it.
When I open up one of the manila folders, I have the Ancestor Biographical Information Worksheet immediately at the front of the stack of documents. For some of my ancestors, the worksheet is the only thing that I have in the folder. Some of the people who use this system have decided to staple the worksheet to the side of the folder that opens to the left, so it never gets mixed in with any other papers.
In addition to the folder on each ancestor, this filing box is a convenient place to keep genealogical information that might have been prepared by older relatives. For example, I have three different “reports” on a few different family lines that were researched by people in my family who came before me. These have sentimental value, and I also like to keep them for reference.
I also keep my spiral notebooks in the folder that contain all of my little chicken scratch notes! Having a filing system like this, or something similar, is a great way to keep track of your family tree research.
Do you want a free copy of the worksheet?
If you want a free copy of the Ancestor Biographical Information Worksheet, and another worksheet that I use for research (for conducting interviews with family members, click on the link below: