That Form Everyone Wanted …


I had a lot of requests about the form I used to track my families through census records in this post.  I finally found the original email that had the original form from the original creator.  Like most good things in the genealogy sphere, she – being Shirley Fields – got the idea from someone who got the idea from someone, and then she tweaked it a bunch of times and eventually it was sent to me, where it changed my life.  No, really.

She gave me permission to “duplicate it, share it, mutilate it, or pitch it out as you see fit” … so I will share the Excel spreadsheet with you.  (click the pic)

census comparison worksheet

The way it works is this:  begin with the marriage date (-ish, if you don’t have exact) of the primary couple – the parents, and you track all the children – in birth order – according to all the census records from the date of marriage until the children reach adulthood and marry out of the household.  I like to transcribe their names exactly as they appear on the census (that has helped me solve a problem or two), and I write their ages in parentheses with their names.  This helps see at a glance whether they are aging “properly.”  You can use it for federal and/or state censuses (I use it for both).

I make notes of others listed in the households at the bottom of each column, whether they are relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, etc.) or not (boarders, farm hands, etc.).

When a family member marries or dies (or is listed with other family members), I like to color-code the boxes on the census from which they are missing with a brief explanation, and then the married couple gets their own sheet.

Let me know in the comments about problems you had that were solved by using this form.  I’d love to hear about them!



Do we share ancestors? Email me: lostancestors AT gmail DOT com

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Disclosure:  Some posts may contain affiliate links, which means I may be compensated if you purchase a product using one of those links. There is no additional cost to you. Occasionally I receive free products to review, which will be indicated in my review posts. All opinions are my own, regardless of compensation.  See my full disclosures at the link above.

Author: Jenny Lanctot

I have been working on my genealogy in earnest (albeit in fits and starts) since around 1990. My approach to my research has evolved exponentially since those days (read: I actually appear to know what I'm doing now), and I am enrolled in ProGen 24 on my way toward certification. I am a Paralegal in a small law firm in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I am the Editor of Southern Roots & Shoots, the quarterly publication of the Chattanooga Delta Genealogy Society. Aside from work, blogging, and my genealogy research, in my spare time I like to ... wait ... I forgot, I don't have any spare time. If I had ANY spare time, I would travel (for research) and write (about my research).

41 thoughts on “That Form Everyone Wanted …”

    1. Mike, on the census records each dwelling and family are identified by number, in addition to the line number. Including it on the form illustrates where your family is in relation to any others in that area who may or may not be related.

      Does that help?

  1. Thanks so much Jenny – this was on my list to come up with since I saw your post – one item off my list. And now to use it! Thanks Shirley as well for being so gracious as to share – much appreciated.

      1. Brilliant, Jenny ! What I did was add another row under the census information (and above spouses’ rows) to put the actual address of the home if mentioned (although that could go in notes too ?).

        1. Good idea, Magda! I usually use a section of the notes under each column to list non-family members (or at least those who aren’t parents/children), so adding a line for the address would avoid cluttering that part up – although since I mainly use this to see the in/out movement of the children (and others), the address isn’t a big part of why I use this form. That’s probably something I would just leave to my database.

  2. Thanks so much for this. I didn’t know I wanted it but just saw the title of your blog post on Randy Seaver’s blog and thought “Ooh. What’s that?” How wonderful. Yes, I think sub-consciously I have always wanted this form.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this form! I’m new to your blog. I’m having problems printing or saving this document, can you help me?


    1. You’re very welcome, Nellie! You need to click on the form above and it will open in Google Drive. You can then download the form to your computer (by clicking the little downward-facing arrow at the top of the page). Once you’ve downloaded it, you can print or edit.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Jennie this is an incredible form and just what I am looking for.
    However I am distraught that I can’t download or save it.
    Ive tried all the tricks I know, and your suggestions to Nellie – but I’m stuck.
    Do you have any more suggestions that might help please.

    Love your “chronicle”
    Thank you

    1. Jackie,

      Thanks for stopping by. Sorry you’re having so much trouble getting the form. I wonder if maybe it has something to do with you not being in the U.S.

      In any case, in the interest of time, I went ahead and emailed it to you. Let us know if you break down any brick walls!

  5. Hi Jenny,

    I’m not able to download the file either. The “little down arrow” does not appear. In the information section, it states “anyone with the link can view” and under download permission “Viewers cannot download”. Could this be the problem?



  6. trying to get this Census comparison to print – but even after saving first will not work. Any chance you could email it? I am old fashoin and Love working with hard copies, as opposed to computer! 🙂 Thanks!
    ~ Ginger

  7. This is awesome! In so lines of my family they’ve had up to 16 kids and other sheets don’t go up that high. Thanks for sharing!

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