Start Your Family History Research Journal

Start Your Family History Research Journal

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...

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.
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