Keeping a Research Log

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A research log is a comprehensive list of what you have searched and what you plan to search for an ancestor. A research log can tell you what you have searched, what you found or didn’t find, and save you time because you don’t need to search the same source again.

Why should I keep a log?

  • You can tell your family or others what you have already searched. If you are working together, they won’t need to search the same source again.
  • Your family or others may want to look at the sources as you did.
  • Your records will be more complete.

What should I write on a log before I search?

Before you search for an ancestor, write down the:

  • Name of your ancestor
  • Research objective. An objective is what you want to find out about your ancestor, such as a birth record.
  • Title or name of the source, such as Church Records of [locality].
  • The call number—microfilm or book number—for the source.
  • Name of the library or archive where the source is kept.

What should I write on a log after I search?

After you search a source, write down the:

  • Dates that you searched.
  • Notes about what you found.
  • Whether or not you made a photocopy.
  • Notes about what you didn’t find.

The information you find, such as date and places can be transferred to your family group sheet. On your research log, write down what you didn’t find. What you didn’t find is very important because you know that you don’t have to search the same source again.