Synthesizing Genealogical Research Results (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Methodology - Part 1: Getting Started, Methodology - Part 2: Organizing and Skillbuilding, Methodology - Part 3: More Strategies, Methodology - Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording, Methodology - Part 5: How To Prove It, and Methodology - Part 6: Professional Preparation and Practice  by Louise St Denis, Brenda Dougall Merriman and Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).


Synthesis of Research Results[edit | edit source]

The final stage in research is the synthesis of the information and proven linkages into various formats to assist:

  • In evaluating your progress
  • In presenting your family information to members of your family
  • In presenting your family information to other researchers

There are several standard methods that have proved successful. All depend upon accurate recording and checking of data. There are also certain useful rules for filling out charts.

  • Most of us are now using genealogy software programs to record our information, but if you are using paper charts use pencil to record data when you first obtain it; use ink only when the fact has been verified.
  • Print legibly.
  • For names:
a. use full names wherever possible
b. always use maiden names for women
c. underline given name used most often if it is not the first one
d. nickname can be given in brackets or in quotation marks; be consistent
e. use spelling most used by that ancestor, or a standard spelling, or the first one used during his lifetime; again, be consistent throughout your research. Nevertheless, when directly quoting a source you should use the spelling therein, however odd it may be
f. capitalize surnames
g. occupation can be inserted after name, in small letters to differentiate it from the surname
  • Dates should be recorded as day, month (3-letter abbreviation), year, for example 22 Aug 1972.
  • Record place names beginning with the smallest locality. Date each draft of any chart so you can track your progress and know which is the current one.

Standard Methods of Synthesis of Research Results[edit | edit source]

Types of Charts Used to Summarize Genealogical Data

Title Use Appendix Example
Biography Synopsis For Individual Blank chart Chart 62
Family Group Record For One Family Blank chart Chart 63
Surname Descent Chart Descent through One Surname Blank chart Chart 64
Pedigree Chart Descent from All Surnames Blank chart Charts 65-70
Descendancy Chart Narrative or Paragraph Pedigree All Descendants of One Couple - Charts 71-72
Family Tree or Drop-Line Chart All Descendants of One Couple - Charts 73-74 + Notes

Examples of Letters and Symbols for Use in Charts

Prefix Letters Meaning Suffix Letters Meaning
b. born c census information
bur. buried f family information
c. christened g gravestone information
d. died RD registration district
k. killed v info from vicar
m. married w info from will
m1. 1st marriage 1Q 1st quarter
m2. 2nd marriage 2Q 2nd quarter

Symbol Meaning Symbol Meaning
# from IGI * have certificate
+ from parish register have copy of parish register
< before > after
 ? perhaps descendants known

Biography Synopsis[edit | edit source]

The Biography Synopsis is an ideal way to summarize what you know about someone's life history. In North America similar charts are called Timelines and record Date – Event – Place – Source.

These timelines form a starting point for a biography and point out chronological gaps in your knowledge to which you can apply problem-solving techniques. For an example see below.

Biography Synopsis for Joseph DASHWOOD II

Date Event Address
4 Dec 1745 Christened s/o Joseph DASHWOOD I + Ann née TRENN. Topsham, Devon
4 Oct 1747 Father killed at Battle of Cape Finisterre.
24 Apr 1748 Only sibling Ann DASHWOOD christened. Topsham, Devon
1 Jun 1748 Bounty Money received on his behalf by his uncle James HIRTZELL of Exeter. £30.8.4d. Exeter, Devon
25 Mar 1762 Apprenticed for 7 yrs to George FLASHMAN of Exeter, watchmaker for premium £31.10s. Exeter, Devon
1765 Moved with master to premises near Guildhall. Exeter, Devon
25 Mar 1769 Out of apprenticeship indentures. Exeter, Devon
 ? Made a long case clock with brass dial. Bridport, Dorset
10 Feb 1782 Married Mary BORCKHARDT at St. Margaret, Westm’r . St. John, Westminster
May 1782 His mother Ann died in Westminster.
30 Nov 1783 1st child Joseph III born. St. Margaret, Westminster
12 Feb 1785 2nd child Christian Hirtzell born. St. Margaret, Westminster
28 Mar 1785 These two sons christened. St. Margaret, Westminster
10 Feb 1787 3rd child John James born. St. Margaret, Westminster
14 Dec 1788 4th child Mary Elizabeth born. St. Margaret, Westminster
7 Jan 1789 3rd and 4th children christened. St. Margaret, Westminster
1789-1812 His former master, George FLASHMAN is at 18 Fleet St. City of London
19 Nov 1789 His 1st daughter Mary Elizabeth buried. St. Margaret, Westminster
22 Aug 1790 5th child, Elizabeth Ann Mary born.
5 Oct 1790 Daughter Elizabeth Ann Mary christened at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster. Westminster
1792/3 6th child William Henry born.
12 Sep 1795 7th child Mary Elizabeth born.
12 Aug 1797 8th child Matilda Hyde born.
30 Sep 1799 9th child Nancy Louisa born
15 Aug 1803 Eldest son Joseph marries Frances Elizabeth JONES at St. Giles-in-the-Fields,Westminster.
23 Jun 1804 1st grandchild Joseph Hyde DASHWOOD born.
1805-1808 Directories show him as watchmaker. 34 Camden St., Walworth, Surrey
25 Dec 1806 2nd son Christian marries Mary CORNER at St. Pancras Old Church, Middlesex.
30 Apr 1815 6th child William marries Lucy BECKINGHAM at Christ Church, Spitalfields, Middlesex.
10 Nov 1816 5th child Elizabeth marries John R. MITCHELL at St. Mary Newington, Surrey.
31 Jan 1819 His 3 youngest children, Mary, Matilda and Nancy christened as adults at St. Mary Newington, Surrey. He is listed as a watchmaker. North Street, Walworth, Surrey
1819-1828 Joseph dies.
16 Apr 1822
8th child, Matilda, marries Thomas P. IVEY at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster.

18 Nov 1825
9th child, Nancy, marries Daniel SMITH at St. Mary, Newington, Surrey.

28 Oct 1828
Widow Mary writes her will at 5 Gloucester Terrace.
Little Chelsea, Middlesex
6 May 1830
Widow Mary’s will proved at PCC.
Chelsea, Middlesex


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Methodology - Part 1: Getting Started, Methodology - Part 2: Organizing and Skillbuilding, Methodology - Part 3: More Strategies, Methodology - Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording, Methodology - Part 5: How To Prove It, and Methodology - Part 6: Professional Preparation and Practice offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.