Review: Essential Family Tree Forms

About a month ago, Geneabloggers Genealogy Bargains mentioned the Essential Family Tree Forms Library CD on sale for 25% off (it still is 25% off by the way!). The rave review from Geneabloggers and the price made this a simple decision for me. And this week, it finally arrived!

Essential Family Tree Forms

What Is It?

There are 75 worksheets/checklists/templates included in the CD. They are all a PDF but you can type into them and save the forms (which I love)!

  • Basic Genealogy Forms
    • Includes the usual pedigree (5-generation) and family group sheet but ALSO includes an adoptive family chart, a step-family chart, and a source list!
  • US Census Extraction Forms
    • 1790-1940 – These are really great when pulling information from census records and you can’t for whatever reason download/print the actual image of the census record.
  • Checklists
    • For census records, home sources, military, and just records in general. There’s also a handy cousin-chart and an example for source documentation.
  • Immigrant Research Forms
    • Includes an ancestral village worksheet, customs lists, and passenger lists through the years along with a passenger list search worksheet
  • Online Research Helps
    • Includes an ancestor worksheet for online searches and an online search tracker
  • Person Worksheets
    • Includes an ancestor worksheet, a biographical outline, a living relative search worksheet and a military service record sheet
  • Photo and Heirloom Forms
    • Includes sheets for recording your inventory of archived items, heirlooms, and photos. It also includes sheets for ancestral homes, recipes, helping to identify pictures, who has what and where, etc.
  • Records Worksheets
    • Includes worksheets for: birth, death, marriage index, deed, land, cemetery, news clipping, and burned county information
  • Research Logs
    • A great table of contents chart for your files along with the usual items you’d expect: correspondence log, note taking forms for library research, research items like a journal, calendar, planner, and log.
  • Research Trip Aids
    • Wonderful charts for helping you to research the repository before you go, as well as a great budget planning sheet and a packing list.
  • Story and Tradition Forms
    • Great for family get togethers! These include a family interview sheet (in case you weren’t sure what to ask), a family stories sheet, any family traditions, and a record for your oral interviews.
  • Surname Worksheets
    • Sheets for recording the story behind a certain name, any variations in the spelling of the name along with when and where, and a great surname worksheet where you can keep track of several names (and their variants) in one place.

Pros

The Ancestral Village Worksheet was something I hadn’t thought about until I saw the sheet and I can see how useful it could be! Certain items, like other historical names, are incredibly important to remember when looking for your ancestors!

The Passenger List Search Worksheet is great when you’re looking for someone with a name that could be spelled and transcribed many ways. This sheet has you write down everything you already know in order to help you better search for your ancestor in a passenger list database.

The Online Search Tracker and the Ancestor Worksheet for Online Searches are unique. As a professional, this is a great chart to use when I am quickly doing a surface search for someone, but have not created a tree for them yet and just need some background first. This is a great place to keep the information organized.

The Ancestor Worksheet I could see being very useful when you hit a brick wall. It’s a great place to quickly put all you already know about them in one place and then see what you could be missing.

The Correspondence Log does not need to be just family. I keep one that goes for everyone I’ve asked for information on whomever I was looking for. This includes when I ask societies or libraries. It’s a good habit to get into!

I really enjoy the Research Trip Aid items. They are wonderful and I can already tell I’ll be using the budget one frequently. The set up for the repository worksheet is great as well as it includes things people may not think about right away like are they closed for lunch? What restrictions are there for electronics? Or is anything stored off-site? All great questions you should know before you go!

Cons

While useful, I don’t know that I’d create checklists for things like JUST census records or military records. I tend to look at one person and see what I have for them, so that makes the records checklist probably the most beneficial for me.

I am a proponent of citing something instead of nothing so the included citation cheat sheet will help with that. However, it is missing a few components that I feel are important (like who you are specifically looking at), but for those who haven’t cited before, it is still a great start.

Some items, like the Photographic Record, Heirloom Recording Form, the Military Service Record, and the Recipe History Recorder are nice for presentation. If you aren’t going to present that information in some way, I don’t find them incredibly useful. All that information can be recorded elsewhere (although the Heirloom and Recipe Recorder do leave room for memories/stories about said heirloom/recipe).

As mentioned, the Correspondence Log is a great habit to get into but this one lacks information I would want to include. Besides the basic columns in the log (date, who to, address, information received, sent, or requested), I also like to include information on the person I’m researching, the specific question I had, if I sent money, and then the result. Since this is just a family log, I suppose it doesn’t need as much detail, but I just use a bigger one that I created.

Overall

I’d say this was a sound purchase! The price was great and I already see many worksheets/templates/checklists that I will be using in the future. This may be less of a value to someone who has been in genealogy for a while and may have already created similar documents. I hadn’t yet though and I find many of these to be quite beneficial!

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Nan Bailey

    Thank you for doing a post sbout this. I thought it might be useful but hesitated to purchase. Can you tell me if the forms are specifically set up for US research ? Most of my research is in the UK and so census forms and dates are different to the US ones. Regards, Nan

    • Nichelle Barra

      It is mostly for US research BUT there are many sheets that you can use for anywhere. The US focused items would be: the census checklist, the census forms, the military checklist, the passenger list would probably still work but would need some tweaking, and that would probably be all. The Records worksheets could be adjusted as need be but that would be necessary anyway as each county is different. I hope that helps!

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