New to Genealogy?

Keeping Records

You will be gathering a lot of information about a lot of people. You may think that you should start with a computer program to store that information. Do not buy one now; start with pencil and paper. There are many excellent genealogy programs and you need to pick the one that fits your style. That means that you need to have been involved with genealogy long enough to have a style or your program will frustrate you. Keep paper records until you have data on about a hundred people; then start looking at computer programs.

There are two basic documents that you need to record two basic types of information.

  1. You need to know who the ancestors of a particular person are. You record this on chart called a Family Tree. Start with the particular person (probably you) and record your two parents, your four grandparents, your eight great grandparents, and so on.
  2. The second document is a Family Record – for information about a set of parents and all their children. At a minimum you should create a Family Record for each couple in your Family Tree.

These two forms are the only essential ones, although there are many other useful forms, charts and diagrams. A good source of forms with a Canadian orientation is the book Using Forms for Genealogical Research by Susan Smart (OGS 2005). It contains 42 forms which you can photocopy for your own use.