You can use a blank journal, a notebook or a computer-generated journal, whatever works best for you.
Your journal might not be a daily account, since most people don’t research on a daily basis. But as thoughts about your research come to you, be sure to make an entry.
Consider having more than one journal; you might start a journal for each family line you’re researching.
Ideally, your entries should be thorough, so that your journal can stand alone and replace any research logs should they get lost or misplaced. Things you might want to include are:
- the date of your search
- the research repository where your search was conducted; or if you received a document through the mail; or if it was an Internet search
- the name of the ancestor you’re searching for
- the types of records or resources you checked
- the condition of the records (water-stained, faded ink, torn pages, binding too tight to read notations in margins, etc.), and how this affected your research
- what you had hoped to find (“I was looking for Grandpa James’ birth record…”)
- what you found (“…instead of finding Grandpa James’ birth record, I found a marriage record for Grandpa James to some woman before he married Grandma!”)
- family stories
- any new clues or leads
- how you felt about your find or lack of find.