Sample Templates

Sample Census template--help descendants find you and your relatives in the Census!
Organizing your family history collection? Here are a few sample templates I've used to document who's mentioned where in my genealogical materials. The newest is above, a "Census template" to show where I and my immediate family lived in more recent Census years. Having this in my files to be shared with future generations will help descendants more quickly and easily find me when Census records are made public decades from now.

Please feel free to borrow and adapt any of these templates to your own needs. The first three samples are included in my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past.  The fourth sample is from my presentation, "Genealogy, Free or Fee?"

Sample index for genealogical materials

1. INDEX TEMPLATE (above): This kind of index can be helpful for identifying exactly who is mentioned in which documents or materials (letters, diaries, etc.) and uncovering relationships. I described how I created a simple but lengthy one here and how to use the index to solve family mysteries here. A simple index--to all the people mentioned in 30 years of family meeting minutes--is shown here. I put a copy of the index in the surname folders of families mentioned in each document, for cross-reference purposes.

Sample inventory template (for boxes, file folders, etc)

2. INVENTORY TEMPLATE (above): This is an inventory template I used to list the contents of archival boxes of genealogy materials like news clippings, photos, letters, etc. Not shown is the date of my inventory and where the box is located. Also include full names and dates of the people, to help heirs know who's who. I put a copy of this inventory inside the box and in the file folder for these ancestors.

Sample template for recording cousin names and contact info

3. COUSIN CONNECTIONS TEMPLATE (above): If you, like me, have been finding lots and lots of long-lost cousins, you can prepare a list (alphabetical by surname or first name, as you wish) to keep track of who's where and when you last were in touch. I explained in this post how I created this listing after I nearly forgot to tell one distant cousin about a mutual distant cousin from our family.

4. INVENTORY CHECKLIST OF SELECTED GENEALOGY SOURCES (above): To help you identify what you (or siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins) may have in your possession that can provide clues to genealogical mysteries, try using this simple checklist. It's not for bingo--it's a starting point to thinking creatively about sources of information for tracing your family tree. Do ask your family what they have in a drawer, attic, closet, basement, or trunk. Who knows what mysteries you'll solve? Please feel free to share this checklist!

Marian Wood and Janeen Bjork talk about genealogy books


  1. I've added your "Sources" checklist to another checklist I found on Cyndi's list. The more options for getting myself unstuck the better!

  2. I am adding this to my blog and print a copy to go with my files thanks