The Family Group Sheet is an extremely useful, simple tool, that can help you to remain focused on your research and objectives. It provides a basic overview of one family unit: the mother, father, and children. It includes dates and places of births, marriages, & deaths. During my research, I can’t tell you how many time’s I find myself rewriting some of the basic facts on the family I’m researching on scrap paper. A Family Group Sheet saves time and frustration. Especially if you are looking at multiple families.
An example of a basic Family Group Sheet that I use in my research
Some people prefer to use a more detailed Family Group Sheet and will include things such as occupation, cause of death, religion, the church they attended, and the specific cemetery they were buried, etc.. You can customize the form to meet your specific needs. I wanted a form that had fairly large print so that it was easy to read and not too cluttered.
The Family Group Sheet is an excellent starting point and it helps you see the overall story of the family. It paints a picture of the timeline of events, it helps you see what information you are missing, and can be used in your genealogy organizational system. Most importantly, it will help you when looking at various resources and trying to determine if the document you are looking at is, in fact, your ancestor. If your grandfather was born in 1923 and the census you are looking at says he was born in 1888… then it’s probably not your grandfather.
We all use different organizational systems that align with the way we individually process information in our minds. There is no perfect system and you need to find what works for you. There are numerous free templates on-line that you can easily print out or you can create your own using Microsoft Word, Excel, Adobe PDF and various genealogy software such as Roots Magic or MyHeritage. I personally like to use a fillable PDF form or write it out by hand using a template. However, I try to save paper and ink whenever possible and like to have a digital copy for my records.
Some people may want to get fancy with their genealogy Group Sheet, especially if they are giving it as a gift or providing professional services. This might include photographs which add a nice visual flair to the document.
Image obtained from Behold Genealogy
I highly recommend taking a look at FamilySearch.org’s list of Genealogy Research Forms, they have a wide range of various forms to help you keep organized in your family history adventure for free.