Tips for Recording Information

2/28/2016 09:06:00 PM

© Summer Owens

Concerning genealogy, all the little details you include 
will make a world of difference on whether or not you
 find what you're looking for.


Full names - When recording names of ancestors (whether it be on your pedigree chart, family group sheet, online family tree, or in notes) write the individual's name in their natural order - first, middle, surname. Always use all given names if you know them. Some genealogists like to print surnames (last names) in upper case to better distinguish them from middle names.

  Nicknames - If a nickname was commonly used for an ancestor, you can include it in quote after their given name. For example: William "Billy" James MOORE.

 Maiden Names - Always enter a married female under her maiden name (her surname at birth) rather than her husband's surname. If you do not know a female's maiden name, you can insert a Mrs. as her title on the chart followed by her first name and her husband's surname. Or you can write her first name followed by a pair of empty parentheses e.g. Mary ( ). If you ever come across a situation where the woman's maiden name is the same as her married name, be sure to note it so as not to later on confuse yourself or other researchers.

 Also Known As - If a person is known by more than one name then include all alternate names in parentheses after the surname. For example, my great grandfather Earl Hugh Talbert was orphaned as a baby and raised by a Mr. and Mrs. Strong. I have found him in records listed with the surname Talbert and Strong so I might list him as: Earl Hugh TALBERT (a.k. Earl Hugh STRONG)

 Alternate Spellings - If you find that an ancestor's surname has changed over time or can be found in records spelled many different ways, you can record those spellings. Record the earliest known usage of the surname first, followed by later spellings e.g. Jennifer Koch/Cook.


Known Dates - Dates in genealogy are recorded according to the European standard of day first, month spelled out second and then four digit year last. So if my aunt was born August 5, 1953 I would record her birth date as being 5 August 1953 or 5 Aug. 1953.

Estimated Dates - Sometimes you may not have an exact date for an event in an ancestors life but you might know approximately when it happened. If this is the case it is okay to indicate this by writing "about" (abt.) or "circa" (c. or ca.). For example: Eleanor Roth was born ca. 1953.
Likewise, if you know an event happened before or after a certain date you can preface the date with "before" (bef.) or "after" (aft.). For example: Eleanor Roth was married aft. 1927.


Standard Place Names: You will record the places your ancestors were born, married, or died in, by smallest to largest location. Here in the U.S. that would generally be City, County, State, Country. Don't discount the importance of including the county name, as many states have county names that are the same as cities. 

If Place Names Have Changed: You may find that your ancestors were married in one county and later the county lines changed. Or perhaps they were buried one place and then their remains were removed and interred in a different state. To record changes like these it is good to know the original name of the area where the event happened, and what the area is called now. So for example: Bollinger Co., (formerly Cape Girardeau Co.,) MO

If Location Is Not Clear: If you don't positively know the location of an event but have lots of circumstantial evidence pointing to a certain area than you can record that area as "probable". For example: prob. Apple Creek, Cape Girardeau, MO,