It is vitally important that researchers keep track of all the places they find information, as well as the places they did not find information. What was not found is often just as important as what was. Researchers should also keep track of all the people, organisations and repositories they have contacted. A research log gives family history researchers the tool they need to keep track of all the steps they have taken during their research - their successes and their failures.
When I first started my own research 8 years ago, I neglected to realise the importance of a research log. Please learn from my mistakes. The lack of a research log, especially in the Internet age, is a recipe for chaos! As I am 'beginning again', this time around I will be making sure I am careful to fill in a research log to keep track of all the places I search and all the people I contact! Methods and Plans in family history research are vital.
Learn more about Research Logs
FamilySearch Wiki has several articles relevant to Research Logs. A link is included to a Research Log Example. As FamilySearch Wiki states, it is important to document as you go. I have previously mentioned the very useful and easy to follow series of articles Principles of Family History Research on the FamilySearch Wiki web site. Step 2: Decide What You Want To Learn includes the sub-step Prepare a research log. Research logs also play an important part in other steps of the research process.
Free Research Logs
Free blank research logs, as well as many other blank forms useful during genealogical research, are available in many places across the Internet:
- FamilySearch Wiki: Use Appropriate Forms
- Family Tree Magazine: Free Forms
- ShoeString Genealogy: Forms
- Cyndi's List: Printable Charts & Forms
- Free Genealogy Charts & Forms (About.com)
- Ancestry.com - Charts & Forms
- Ancestors: Charts and Records.
- Miriam Robbins Midkiff: Forms
- Elyse's Genealogy Blog: Free Genealogy Forms
- ThinkGenealogy: 3 Documents to Improve the Quality of your Research
|Creating a blank Research Log using Legacy 7.4|
Randy Seaver has a discussion about Research Logs in Genealogy Software over at his blog Genea-Musings.
You could also record notes about your research steps using note-keeping software such as Microsoft Office OneNote, Evernote, Springpad or Zotero. Further discussion on some of these options is available at:
What do you record on your research log? Do you know any other examples of great research logs?
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