Beware of Printed Genealogy Forms–

Pre-printed genealogy forms and fill-in-the-blanks pages–whether online or offline–are created to make genealogy easy. Unfortunately, the form may not ask for all of the data that a specific source gives and there may not be fields for each fact the record contains. And beginners fill in the blanks the best they can thinking what they share is sufficient–after all, the form asks for what is important. Right?

Wrong! Almost no form has space for all the information in the record.

So why do we stress that you fill out charts for analysis of your data? Why do we suggest that you summarize what you know and what you find on pre-printed charts?

Forms and charts allow you to see at a glance what you have. Just know that the chart is not a replacement for the document. It is a ready-reference to your research findings. And you need both–whenever you can secure a document do it. Read what the document says and study the evidence it includes for your ancestor.

Ask for: full names of parents; geographical place or area of settlement of your family; original spelling of your surname; names of witnesses and sponsors; specific dates for life events. And make a running list of persons who have been associated with your ancestor over time. These basic facts will enable you to match what you know to what you find.

Don’t stop with an extract–you also need the document. Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle  

PS Still snowing. I spent hours today chipping away the ice in my driveway–each time shoveling the new snow off the ice. And it is still snowing–Walls of snow on either side. It is the most amazing winter in my memory. Beautiful and cold. Three weeks of snowfall–in a desert climate! Even Yuma Arizona–with its 3 inches of rainfall per year is getting clobbered!

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