There are two commonly used types of forms for documenting family history:
- Family Group Sheet
- Pedigree Chart
Family Group Sheet
The family group sheet is used to document a family unit. It includes vital information about a man, his wife and children. It may also include the names of his parents and his wife’s parents and may include the names of his children’s spouses. The usual information entered about family members includes the following facts:
· Given name and surname
· Date of birth
· Place of birth
· Date of baptism (sometimes included)
· Place of baptism (sometimes included)
· Date of marriage
· Place of marriage
· Date of death
· Place of death
· Date of burial
· Place of burial
The information you will be recording about yourself and your family members should be recorded consistently. You will be recording the same type of information about many individuals and should use a consistent format to document the facts.
Record the full name if known even if they did not use their full name, but used a nickname. You may indicate the nickname in quotation marks. For example: Benjamin Andrew “Bennie” Jones. For married women always record their maiden name instead of their married surname. If you do not know their maiden name you may use some method to distinguish that the surname was not their birth name such as Martha Ann Jonesmrs may be used to indicate that Martha was Mrs. Martha Ann Jones.
Genealogists use a consistent format for recording dates. You may choose which format you prefer, but once you decide you should use it consistently throughout your work. Generally, most family historians use two digits for the date followed by the month written in full and followed by four digits for the year. Example: 21 September 1984. If you prefer you may record the date 09/21/1984 or 21 Sep 1984 or 21/09/1984. Whatever format be sure to use it for recording all dates.
It is also important to record the geographic location where the event occurred in a consistent format. In general, you should record the town, county, state and country. Example: Saint Joseph, Buchanan, Missouri, USA. You may use the two-letter abbreviation for the state if you prefer. Saint Joseph, Buchanan, MO, USA. It is not necessary to write the word county when you use a consistent format. If you do not know all of the information for the location use commas to mark the designation. Example: , Buchanan, MO, USA or Saint Joseph, , MO, USA.
It is also important to record the location as it was known at the time the event occurred. For example: Prior to the end of the Civil War the state of West Virginia did not exist. You should record the location as Virginia prior to 1865, but after 1865 the location would be West Virginia. A person may not move, but the location of an event in his / her life may be different than a previous event that occurred at the same location just due to a change in boundaries.
The function of the pedigree chart is to document the lineage from one generation to the next. It starts with an individual and shows his / her parents; their parents, grandparents, great grandparents and so forth. They help to document a direct line of ancestors. The information should be recorded consistently on the pedigree chart as it was on the family group sheet.