Legacy Family Tree Software

Genealogy Research Checklist

There are lots of different genealogy checklists available out there for tracking whether or not you’ve located a particular record for any given ancestor.  I was looking for one because I wanted to reorganize my genealogy research.  I’m peripherally following what’s going on with the Genealogy Do Over/Go Over that  many are participating in, but I’m fairly busy with my day job right now, so I’m only planning on completing just the first part of the project – categorizing what I’ve already collected in a spreadsheet and making sure I have copies of all digital records saved according to my filing system.  I’m actually going to actively try to restrain myself from going down the rabbit hole of additional research until I have everything cataloged and filed properly (best laid plans – I don’t know how successful I’m going to be because it’s the research part that’s irresistible and how I ended up in this disorganized mess.)

Most of the ones I’ve found are primarily word or .pdf versions that are one-sheet per ancestor.  But as a lover of data and a fiend for using Excel for anything I can, I’ve adapted my own genealogical research checklist.  I wanted to share it here, with a quick guide on how I choose to use it.

First, I designed it in mind using the MRIN-method of filing ancestor information that I learned in a class I took with Karen Clifford.  So each line item on the spreadsheet uses a combination of the MRIN of the marriage and the RIN of the individual for tracking the information.  In addition to the Ancestor Name, I also include the relationship to the “Home” person, in this case me, and what side of the family they fall on.  If I am tracking the records for my husband’s family, he would be the home person whose relationship I would be tracking.  I also include the years of birth and death, if known, to aid in searching.

Genealogy Checklist

Ancestor Information for each line item of the checklist

I have 13 sections (highlighted in alternating colors for visibility):

  • Vital/Church Records
    • Birth
    • Christening/Baptism
    • Confirmation
    • Marriage
    • Divorce
    • Adoption
    • Death
    • Burial
    • Ordination
    • Membership List/Directory
    • Church Histories
  • US Census Records: 1790 to 1940
  • State Census Records: 179_ to 194_
    • State Census years vary by state, so the last digit is left blank so as to be applicable to any state census
  • Land Records
    • Grantee Index
    • Grantor Index
    • Deeds
    • Abstracts
    • Mortgage/Promissory Notes
    • Surveys/Plats
  • Tax Records
    • Poll Tax
    • Real Estate Tax
    • Personal Property Tax
  • Burial Records
    • Tombstones/Monuments/Memorials
    • Cemetery Plats
    • Perpetual Care
  • Probate Records
    • Indexes
    • Wills
    • Administrator/Executor
    • Estate Inventories
    • Obituaries
    • Bonds
    • Settlements
    • Guardianships
  • Immigration Records
    • Passenger Lists
    • Emmigration List
    • Passports
    • Border Crossings
    • Alien Registration Cards
    • Naturalization/Citizenship Records
  • Military Records
    • Draft Cards
    • Enlistment Records
    • Service Records
    • Payroll Records
    • Muster Rolls
    • Discharge Records
    • Pension/Veteran Records
  • Personal & Miscellaneous Other Records
    • Family Bible
    • Account/ Bank Books / Statements
    • Appointment Calendars
    • Awards & Citations
    • Baby Books
    • Bills of Sale
    • Calling Cards
    • City Directories
    • Diaries & Journals
    • Employment Records
    • Family Histories
    • Greeting Cards & Letters
    • Insurance Policies
    • Medical Records
    • Memoirs
    • Oral Histories/ Interviews
    • Organizational Memberships
    • Photographs/ Scrap books
    • Postcards
    • Recipe Files
    • School Records
    • Telegrams
    • Yearbooks
  • Publications/Societies
    • GenealogyBank.com
    • Chronicling America
    • Newspapers.com
    • Other Newspaper Archives
    • PERSI
    • Genealogical Societies
    • Historical Societies
    • Secret Societies/Clubs
  • Book Sources
    • WorldCat
    • Local Library
    • California State Library
  • Repositories and Databases
    • NARA
    • FamilySearch
    • Ancestry
    • FindMyPast
    • My Heritage
    • Google
Genealogy Checklist

Categories & Document Types in Records Checklist


As I research my ancestors, I want to tick-off what types of documents I’ve found for each person.  To make missing documents more easily stand out, I use conditional formatting.  Every time I enter an “X” into the record box, it is automatically highlighted in red:

Genealogy Checklist

Red highlights with conditionally formatting

I also do two things for census records.  For the US Census decades, I fill in cells that are not applicable in black to make it clear that they are not missing.  For the State Censuses, I add a comment to the cell with the state name and exact year of the census identified:

Genealogy Checklist

For the years of the US Census that are not applicable to the particular ancestor, the cells are blacked out.


Genealogy Checklist

For state censuses, I also add a comment with the state name and exact year.


I also use filters in the table to allow me to search for a particular record across multiple ancestors.  For example, if I want to search for the 1880 US Census for everyone that is missing it, I can select the filter to show all “blanks”.  Alternatively, I can filter by color, to show all cells that have “no fill”.

Genealogy Checklist

Filtering by a particular column will help me narrow down which ancestors are still missing that record.


You can download a copy of this Excel checklist, with all the formatting features here.