Genealogy: Use and record what you learn

By Barry J. Ewell

When doing family history research, a vital part of the process is evaluating the results of your inquiry and sharing your information with others.

I ask myself the question, “What do I see?” Sometimes what I find is only a clue; other times, it’s a gold mine. I record what I learn in my research log. At this point, based on the information I’ve gathered, I decide where I want to go and start with step one again.

As you evaluate your information, consider the following questions:

  • Did I find the information I was looking for?
  • Is the information complete?
  • Does the information conflict with other information I have?
  • Is the source of the information credible?

Transfer any new information you find to your pedigree charts and group records. It’s important to include the source, which is valuable in helping you resolve problems with conflicting information. For example, if you have a birth record that provides a birth date, but an obituary gives another birth date for the same person, you will want to determine which date is the most reliable by reviewing your sources; the most reliable source is usually the source made closest to the time of the event.

Next, organize your records for easy access.

There are a number of computer programs that can help you organize your records on your home computer. If you are just starting, consider the following tips:

  • Keep pedigree charts numbered and arranged numerically.
  • Keep family group records in alphabetical order by the husband’s name.
  • Keep notes, research logs and copies of documents behind the related family group record.

Portions of this article are sourced to


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