Family and Home Sources


by Johni Cerny, B.S., F.U.G.A.
Like any other field or hobby, genealogists and family historians use some supplies and tools to keep themselves organized. At first, you can get along just fine with a legal pad or spiral notebook, but eventually you'll have to bite the bullet and reorganize everything. Personally, I recommend doing it right from the start to avoid having to repeat a search or making a mistake. If you're reading this presentation on-line, it's obvious you own or have access to a computer. Computerizing your research and ancestry is the best way to keep organized and know exactly what you've found and where it came from. Until you know enough to decide which software best fits your needs, the bare essentials will do. Those essentials are listed below and linked to blank forms, sample completed forms, and a glossary that you can download or print.

Getting Started with the Barest Essentials

  1. Pedigree Charts
  2. Family Group Records
  3. Research Calendars
  4. Research Notes
  5. U.S. Census Forms
  6. Glossary

Before moving on to the next topic, make sure you have a few pedigree charts, several family group records, and several research calendars on hand. You'll want to fill them out as you check documents and records in your home and the homes of other family members.

Download Blank Forms (Free Adobe Acrobat Reader needed to view this form).

Hot Tip! Be consistent when filling out each form by paying close attention to detail!

Step One: Begin With Yourself!

Begin with yourself and immediate family members. Enter your name in the number one position on the pedigree chart and enter all the information it asks for from your memory. Then move to your parents in position number two and three; their parents in positions four through seven; and finally your great grandparents in positions eight through fifteen. Then complete a family group record for each couple on the pedigree chart. Tip! Use a pencil when completing forms the first and second times around. You will make corrections when documents give you more accurate and complete information than you remembered!

Hot Tip! Keep in mind that everything you enter on a form eventually must be backed up by a valid document or record!

Step Two: Check Family & Home Sources

When you finish filling out pedigree charts and family group records, it's time to start rummaging through the house for any items that will document every name, date, place, and relationship entered on each form. The items you're going to search for are called "Family and Home Sources." After finishing at your house, visit relatives to discover what they have tucked away. What are family and home sources? They are listed below.


  • Anniversary
  • Birth
  • Birthday Invitations
  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Engagement
  • Funeral
  • Graduation
  • Job Changes & Promotions
  • New Home
  • Wedding


  • Achievement
  • Adoption
  • Apprenticeship
  • Award
  • Baptism
  • Birth
  • Burial
  • Christening
  • Communion (First)
  • Confirmation
  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Graduation
  • Marriage
  • Membership
  • Citizenship & Naturalization Records
  • Alien Registration
  • Deportment
  • Naturalization
  • Passport
  • Passport Application
  • Visa

Employment Records

  • Applications
  • Educational and Training
  • Insurance Applications
  • Pension
  • Performance Evaluations
  • Retirement Papers
  • Severance Papers
  • Union Memberships

Family Records

  • Bibles
  • Biographies
  • Coats-of-Arms
  • Computerized Family Trees
  • Family Histories
  • Family Traditions & Stories
  • Immigration Papers
  • Genealogies
  • Histories
  • Internet Sites
  • Multimedia Family Presentations
  • Newsletters
  • Oral History Recordings
  • Pedigrees
  • Video Biographies

Financial Records

  • Accounts
  • Bills
  • Check Registers
  • Computer Financial Programs
  • Loan Applications
  • Notes
  • Receipts

Government Records

  • Income Tax Returns
  • Social Security Number Application

Health Records

  • Dental Records
  • DNA Tests
  • Hospital Records
  • Immunizations Cards
  • Insurance Applications
  • Medical Files
  • Medical Studies
  • Mental Health Records
  • Prescriptions
  • X-rays

Household Items

  • Coat-of-Arms
  • Dishes (inscribed)
  • Insignias
  • Jewelry (Engraved)
  • Needlework
  • Samplers
  • Silverware
  • Souvenirs (from family reunions)
  • Tapestries

Legal Documents & Papers

  • Abstracts of Title
  • Adoption Papers
  • Bonds
  • Contracts
  • Deeds
  • Immigration Papers
  • Guardianship Papers
  • Land Grants
  • Loan Applications
  • Mortgage Applications
  • Mortgages
  • Notes
  • Passports
  • Summons & Subpoenas
  • Tax Notices
  • Water Rights
  • Wills


  • Business
  • Driving
  • Firearms Permits
  • Motor Vehicle Registrations
  • Occupational
  • Professional

Membership Records

  • Awards
  • Biographies
  • Bulletins
  • Cards
  • Certificates
  • Directories
  • Lists
  • Programs
  • Publications

Military Records

  • Awards & Medals
  • Bounty Land Warrants
  • Disability Applications
  • Discharge Papers
  • Draft Cards and Notices
  • Medical Records
  • National Guard Service Records
  • Pension Applications
  • Service Records
  • Swords (engraved)

Newspaper Clippings

  • Birth Announcements
  • Marriage Announcements
  • News Articles
  • Obituaries
  • Promotions

Personal Records

  • Autobiographies
  • Baby Book
  • Biographies
  • Computer Diaries or Journals
  • Diaries
  • Funeral Cards
  • Journals
  • Letters
  • Oral Histories & Interviews
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Tape Recorded Letters
  • Wedding Books

School Records

  • Diplomas
  • Report Cards
  • Transcripts
  • Yearbooks


After locating as many of the sources listed above as you can, enter each name, date, place and relationship on the forms you completed from memory. Be sure to list the document sources on the back. Some genealogists use this format (FHL=LDS Family History Library):

BIRTH: Catholic Church, St. Anthony of Padua, Chicago, Cook Co., IL. Church Records, 1873-1916. FHL Film No. 1753540, Items 1-7 and 1753541, Item 1-3.

CENSUS: 1910 U.S. Census (Population Schedule), 308 23rd Street, Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois. Enumeration District 1613, Sheet 6, Lines 6-19. May 9, 1910. FHL Film No. 1374256.

MARRIAGE: State of Oklahoma. Craig County Court. Marriage License issued to Grover Cleveland West, age 27, resident of Bluejay, Oklahoma, and Bertha Ruth Smith, age 23, resident of Rosedale, Kansas. Married 30 April 1912 by Justice of the Peace with Charles H. West, of Bluejay, Oklahoma and Lillian May [West] of Kansas City, Missouri. Original license in possession of Edmund West, 1403 Bennington Ave., Kansas City, Missouri 64124.

SOURCE: Partially documented family group records received December 26, 1995 from Elliott West, P.O. Box 000, Salt Lake City, UT 84110-000

1850-CENSUS: County of Holmes, State of Mississippi, enumerated by M. D. Johnson, on the 29th day of August 1850, page 254, #390

Wiley T. Seitzler, age 38, male, School Teacher, born in SC Margaret A. Seitzler, age 28, female, born in MS Joseph Seitzler, age 9, male, born in AL Mary E. Seitzler, age 8, female, born in MS Wiley A. Seitzler, age 5, male, born in MS Emma Ann Seitzler, age 3, female, born in MS William H. Setizler, age 1, male, born in MS

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