Your worksheet is a draft document. It is a tool for you to use to verify that you have all the documents you need to prove your lineage. It is not the final application so it does not have to be perfect. Use the worksheet as a framework. My job as Historian is to turn what you have submitted into a finished application.
When you receive your worksheet, we will have filled in all the citations for events for which the Society already has documentation. You do not need to send copies of any of these documents. We do not need more copies of stuff we already have! If there are weaknesses in the existing documentation, they will be noted, highlighted in yellow. If you are unsure how to abbreviate on your worksheet, please review our document on abbreviations.
Your task is to try to fill in the blanks. You can see that there is a line for each birth, marriage and death event for both the line carrier and the spouse with spaces for place, date and references. In a perfect world, you will be able to fill in the place and date fields for each event and have a source document for each one. In the real world, you will probably still have blanks, particularly in those hard to prove middle generations.
As you start working on the document, start with yourself. Make sure you have a copy of your own birth certificate that lists your mother’s maiden name. Fill in your birth place, date and write B/C in the References field. If you are married, do the same for your wedding date and place and the birth (and death if applicable) of your spouse. Put the name of your spouse’s parents in the designated spot. Hint: I will use the spelling of names that you put here – they are often hard to read on hand-written documents and I don’t want to butcher names that you know.
Next, move on to your parents. You need to record all the applicable birth, marriage and death events with dates and places and provide reference documents that include parents’ names if at all possible. Note the documents you are using as references in the fields provided. Note: if either of your parents was born before civil birth registration was required, a marriage record and/or death record listing parents including mother's maiden name can proxy for a birth record.
Repeat this process as you work backwards through the generations. You may find it helpful to put the documents for each generation in a file folder to keep them straight. Remember, the most important part of this is to clearly link the line carrier in each generation to his/her parents.
As you move backwards, you will find that civil registration for events stop being available. Look at the FamilySearch Wiki (www.familysearch.org/wiki) for detail on when civil registration was required in each state. Some counties kept their own records prior to civil registration, but those are not complete. For example, civil registration in Ohio began in December 1908, but it took some counties several years to comply. Some counties had local records, but if they do exist, they began after the Civil War. We do not expect you to find records that were never created!
As you move back before vital records, you will need to find wills, probate records, land records, family bibles, letters, etc to make the required links between generations. This is often when secondary sources such as published genealogies and county histories come into play. If you do have to dip into secondary sources, you need at least two and one should not have been derived from the other.
Personally, I love census records. I try to find every one that I can for my own family. Census records before 1850 are marginally useful as only the heads of households are listed, and there is not enough information to be sure that you have identified the correct person, particularly for men with common names. Census records from 1850 to 1870 are better because all names in the household are listed, but there are no relationships specified. Marriages and parent/child relationships are implied, but not proved. Several sequential enumerations with the same family group do make that implication stronger. Census records beginning with 1880 do list relationships so they are more useful, but are still secondary sources. The Historian General does not want to see every possible census record – just the ones that provide helpful information that is not found in other documents.
Remember with all these documents, that there can be errors. People lied, particularly about ages, and people made up answers when they did not know what was correct. Any document that is a copy of an original (such as census records) may include transcription errors. If you find documents that show conflicting information, include them all and we will just acknowledge that there are inconsistencies.