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03 August 2010

Genealogical Forms – Pedigree Chart, Family Group Sheet, Research Log (2)

This is the second in a series of three articles explaining basic genealogical forms: pedigree chart, family group sheet, research log

Genealogical Form-family group sheet

Welcome, to the second in this series on genealogical forms. A question asked by someone new to genealogy may be: “Where do I write the names of my brothers and sisters or aunts and uncles?” In this series of articles, the new family historian will be introduced to three forms: the pedigree chart, the family group sheet, and the research log. Each form will be explained with examples and definitions. Have a pencil and copy of the form available to complete your family pedigree chart, family group sheet, and research log.

In research, always work from the known facts to the unknown facts. In the first article, the pedigree chart demonstrates the fact that two separate men are named John SCHULER. The researcher will write out a family group sheet for each man as head of a family. The name John SCHULER, Jr. will appear on two separate sheets. His name is in the family group sheet for John SCHULER as one of the children. In his individual family sheet, John SCHULER, Jr. will appear as a head.
The following definitions are for words used in this article on family group sheets:
A document is a source of information such as a newspaper, a book, or a birth certificate. This document or evidence allows the researcher to draw conclusions as to family connections. Example, John SCHULER, Jr. is enumerated as head of the household in the microfilm document of the 1910 federal census for Lockport, Will County, Illinois. Laney is listed as his wife; Edward is listed as a son; Nellie is listed as a daughter. Another article will explain the value or weight of evidence.
The citation is a statement to identify your source for the drawn conclusion. The Chicago Manual of Style is used by genealogists. For more information regarding citations, the genealogist may consult Evidence! or Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. One example of the citation for the census record mentioned above is “1910 U.S. census, Lockport Township, Will County, Illinois, population schedule, town of Lockport. Micropublication T624, roll 333. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.”
With the family group sheet in hand, fill in as much information as possible. As preparer, always put your name and the current date somewhere on the form. Even with subsequent updated information, keep this form to demonstrate your progress in research. At the top of the form, fill in the name of the biological parents. Fill in as much information on the couple as possible. Next, all the children born of this couple are written on the family group sheet. As each child begins his/her own family, a new family group sheet is written.
The citations are placed at the end. On the family group sheet, this may be at the bottom, the back or on a separate page. Next to each detail, write a superscript number and correspond this number with the appropriate citation. Even though the citation may be used for more than one point, it is written only once. In the example above, the 1910 census citation will be written once on the family group sheet. The superscript number given to the citation will be written next to John SCHULER’s birth date and location, his marriage date, and his parents’ nativity. Also, the superscript number will be written next to the appropriate information for his wife and children.
The researcher should never be satisfied with one document. Different census record years may offer conflicting information. Example: Lena is the given name of John’s wife; but in the 1910 census, her name is listed as Laney. Contradictory information may be noted between any two documents. The genealogist will learn to weigh and evaluate the information. A genealogist is to learn the history and purpose of the document used in evidence. Future articles will be written about documents, citations, and conclusions.
Using the above completed family group sheet as an example, it is time for the new researcher, you, to take a pencil and a family group sheet and fill in your family information.
  • With the information available, write what you discern about each individual.
  • Write complete citations.
If you have any questions or comments on your family group sheet, please contact me.