The following article was written by my good friend, William Dollarhide. Enjoy…

That first pedigree chart usually shows up to four generations, sometimes more, but if a 4-generation chart starts with yourself, there are up to fourteen direct ancestors presented. How many documents have you collected for each of those fourteen persons? How many have of you collected for yourself? How much of the information is still in your head and never written down?

For each ancestor on your pedigree chart, it is possible to have at least 150 documents that mention one person. By adding the first person on the chart, that means it is possible to have 2,250 different documents for one 4-generation pedigree chart. How could that be possible? It is possible because we live in a society that keeps records of everything we do from birth to death, and a myriad of events in between. Here are some things you can do to fill out what you know about yourself, your parents, your grandparents, and your great-grandparents. This list is where you may find dates, places, and genealogical events of a person’s life. Now is the time to honor your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents — by locating every piece of evidence of their lives and saving it as a written record of their personal history.

There will be many readers who will have discovered a document not on this list – please send a comment so others can learn. This list of sources gets smaller as we go back further in time. Assume that it is possible to find all of the 150 documents mentioning any ancestor born since 1930 or so. Here is the checklist:

Personal/Home Sources

Family Bibles
Oral Histories
Family Histories
Baby Books
Baby Announcements
Wedding Announcements
Wedding Guest Books
Diaries and Journals
Income Tax Forms
Property Tax Receipts
Family Correspondence
Funeral Records, Programs, etc.
Death Announcements
Scrapbooks
Photo Albums
Credit Statements
Discharge Papers
Draft Cards
Military Awards
Social Security Cards
Magazine Subscriptions
First Papers – Citizenship
Naturalization Papers
Employment Papers
Union Cards
Newspaper Clippings
Probate/Estate Records
Wills
Land Deeds
Drivers Licenses
Motor Vehicle Registrations
Proof of Insurance Cards
Adoption Record
Baptism Record
Confirmation Record
Graduation Record
Diploma
Family Fraktur
Family Needlepoint
Prepared Pedigree
Prepared Descendancy
Prepared Ahnentafel
Birth Certificate
Delayed Birth Certificate
Corrected Birth Record
Marriage Certificate
Application for Marriage License
Marriage License
Death Record
Death Certificate
Divorce Papers
Life Insurance Papers
Fire Insurance Papers
Automobile Insurance Papers
Health Insurance Papers
Misc. Family Records

Vital Records

State Birth Indexes
State Death Indexes
State Marriage Indexes
County Birth Records
County Death Records
County Marriage Records
Birth Certificates
Delayed Birth Certificates
Corrected Birth Certificates
Marriage Bonds
Marriage Licenses
Marriage Certificates
Death Certificates
Divorce Papers
Adoption Papers
Social Security Death Index
Social Security Application Form SS-5
Social Security Work History
Misc. Vital Records

Church Records

Birth Records
Christening Records
Baptismal Records
Dedication Records
Confirmation Records
Marriage Banns
Death Records
Burial Records
Vestry Records
Admissions
Removals
Disciplinary Records
Church Minutes
Church Histories
Seminary Records
Church Archives
Annulments
Church Membership Lists
Minister’s Records
Ordination Records
Missionary Records
Misc. Church Records

Newspapers

Newspaper Indexes
Obituaries
Death Notices
Birth Announcements
Marriage Notices
Anniversaries
Milestones
Biographies
Family Stories
Historical Vignettes
Unclaimed Mail
Advertisements
Local News
Regional Correspondents
Gossip Columns
Bankruptcies
Sheriff Sales
Divorces
Court Claims
Auctions
Probates
Criminal Convictions
Ship Arrival Notice
Ship Departure Notice
Misc. Newspaper Records

School Records

Report Cards
Grade School Records
High School Records
Trade School Records
Apprenticeship Records
Private School Records
University Records
School Alumni Records
School Annuals
School Reunion Records
School Newspapers
Attendance Reports
School Awards
Graduation Cards
Class Pictures
Individual School Photos
Misc. School Records

Directories/Censuses

Phone Books
City Directories
County/Rural Directories
Genealogical Research Directory
American Genealogical & Biographical Index
Business Almanacs
Trade/Business Directories
Funeral Directors Directory
Cemeteries Directory
Who’s Who Directories
Online Census Index
1790-1940 Federal Censuses
State Censuses
Misc. Directories/Censuses