• Join our Facebook community

    • Daily inspirational messages
    • Learn from other families
    • Get scrapbooking and other helpful hints
    Sign up with Facebook

Taking Good Genealogical Notes

Genealogists take a lot of notes, and it can become very easy to get lost in papers. Rather than letting this happen, try to develop a note-taking system that works for you, early in your research. Here are only some of the many ways genealogists can keep organized and well-documented notes.

Correspondence Log

Correspondence logs are records of people, offices, and organizations you will contact. A good correspondence log includes the type of correspondence (letter, email, phone call), date it was sent, to whom it was sent, what was being requested, the date a reply was received, and the results of the reply. You may also want to keep a copy of the correspondence, both sent and received, with the log. Correspondence logs will help you remember who you contacted for information, in order to avoid contacting the same person or place again.

Census Logs

Census logs record transcriptions of census information about your ancestors. A column should be made for each column found on the census record. Keep in mind that these columns vary between census years.

If you are not interested in recording every bit of information found on census records, you could create a list of each census that lists your ancestors. This list should include the census year and location, name, age, and birthplace of the ancestor, and the film number, roll number, and page of the census record.

Deed, Marriage, Birth, and Death Index’s

Indexes are a list, sometimes alphabetized, of different events. Deed indexes should be include the names of the grantors and grantees, date of the deed, amount of acreage, where the deed is located (courthouse, library), as well as the book and page.

Marriage indexes include the names of the bride and groom, marriage date and location, and where the marriage license is located, as well as the book and page.

Birth and death indexes include the names of ancestors with the date of the event, names of parents, and where the original record is located, as well as the book and page.

Repository Logs

Repository logs record the locations of various genealogical records. Information to include on these logs is the name and location of the repository, book and page numbers, type of record, ancestor for whom the record is about, and the date you access the record. You may want to keep a new record for each repository you visit, as well as a record for where you located records online.