Sample Templates

Sample Census template--help descendants find you & relatives in the Census!

Organizing your family history collection? Here are a handful of sample templates and charts I've used for genealogical analysis and documentation. 

At top is a "Census template" to show where my immediate family and I lived in more recent Census years. Having this in my files to be shared with future generations will help descendants more quickly find me when Census records are made public decades from now. 

Directly above is a colorful cousin relationship chart. It shows how YOU are related to various types of cousins! Family trees should include siblings of direct ancestors, in order to include cousins (and as cousin bait).

Please feel free to borrow and adapt any of these templates and charts for your own needs. Samples #1, #2, and #3 below are included in my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, 2d ed.  The fourth and fifth samples are from my presentation, "Clues to Conclusions: Can You Prove It?"

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. Sortable and searchable. Ideally, create a separate column for date (year, month/day) and for place (country/state, town).

2. INVENTORY TEMPLATE (above): This is an inventory template to list contents of folders, binders, and boxes, or list a category of genealogy materials like news clippings, photos, letters, etc. 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. Sortable and searchable.

3. COUSIN CONNECTIONS TEMPLATE (above): If you, like me, have been finding 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. This is sortable and searchable. I keep a copy with my address book (remember written address books?!).

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. 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!

- To help correlate various events in the family tree of a particular ancestor, also identify gaps and guesstimates for further research. As shown in above timeline, I don't yet know the actual year of birth for Mildred Y. Johnston Picket, but this is a good reminder of roughly help guide further investigation.


  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

  3. You recommended your blog to me on twitter today when I mentioned creating a family history book. Thank you for such a helpful website. I will be saving your checklist to make sure I have all the information I can get for my book.

  4. What a wonderful list! I plan to tell the members of a genealogy club I belong to about it and have saved it to my computer. Thank you for posting it for every genealogist's benefit.