I am kicking around the possibility of becoming a certified genealogist. I’m not certain I will take this step, but regardless of whether I do or not, I know that I can train myself to be a better genealogist by creating some of the documents necessary for a portfolio.
One of those documents is a Kinship-Determination Project, or KDP. According to the Board for Certification (BCG) Application Guide the KDP is a “narrative genealogy, narrative lineage, or narrative pedigree that documents and explains linkages among individuals through three ancestral generations.” The KDP should include “names and known vital data of the children of each couple in the genealogy, lineage, or pedigree,” and should include “documentation of every statement of fact that is not common knowledge.”
As I work to create a KDP, I’ve come up with a spreadsheet that is helping me to gather some of the data necessary for the report. In it I list all the children of the three generations with columns for their birth, marriage and death information. I want to gather as much of this information before I start writing, and have it all in one place. I think this will make my writing process easier and more efficient.
Disclaimer: Because my actual spreadsheet is “under wraps” since it would be unethical of me to get help or input from other genealogists with my research on the family I’m using for the KDP, I’ve filled-in my spreadsheet with fictional characters and random documents that don’t belong to my own ancestors or the fictional ones in the sample spreadsheet below. The links probably don’t support the names and dates for the events shown. But I hope this might be a tool for genealogists to use to organize their data, either for writing a KDP for BCG or a report to share with their family.
I have included a link to the spreadsheet here. You are free to download it for your own use and modify it to suit your particular family. Below are a few features I have included.
In addition to the event date columns, I have columns for “Source.” It is important for me to be able to tell at a glance what my source for an event is. Am I using her death certificate to determine her birth date or do I have a birth certificate? Is it an actual certificate or am I using a derivative source such as an index? I created a key at the top of the sheet “MC” for Marriage Certificate, “F” for FindaGrave, “I” for Index, etc.
In my spreadsheet, I inserted hyperlinks on the letters I typed in the “Source” column. These hyperlinks can take me to a website such as FamilySearch, or they can link to a scanned image or other document I have saved on my computer. To create these links, I simply right click on the cell where I have typed my source abbreviation. A dropdown menu appears. I click on “Hyperlink” and paste or type in a web address or browse through the documents on my computer to find the certificate image I have saved.
Many of the documents I have used here were ones I found online on FamilySearch. With these, there is often a “record details” page which gives an abstract or transcription of the document, and then a link to the actual image of the record. Where possible, I linked to the “record details” page for a couple of reasons. First, while the transcriptions are not perfect, they are helpful. Second, FamilySearch usually provides a “Citing this Record” section at the bottom. I know that FamilySearch citations are not perfect, but I have a place to start with my own citation.
When my worksheet is “complete” with vital information for each family member, I am ready to start writing. With the hyperlinks embedded in the worksheet, I can click on any of the links and immediately see my documentation for that event. Everything is handy in one place.
One more feature I have used in this worksheet is “comments.” You can insert these as easily as you insert a hyperlink. Just right click on the cell, and when the dropdown menu appears, click “Insert Comment.” You can type anything in the box. When you are finished with your comment, click somewhere else in the worksheet, the comment box will close, and you will see a little red triangle appear in the top right corner of the cell with the comment. Just hover your mouse our cursor over the cell and the comment will appear. Right clicking on the cells will also allow you to edit or completely delete a comment. I use these for notes to myself, maybe thinking about other research ideas. In the case of my KDP spreadsheet, I’ve used them for information of people who have married into my KDP line.
Even if you aren’t thinking of creating a KDP for submission to the Board for Certification of Genealogists, you could create one of these spreadsheets to share with your family. When you’re using images from free websites such as FamilySearch for your links, your relatives will be able to click on the links and see the source documents. If you are using a subscription site such as Ancestry for your documents they would also need to have a subscription to see the documents on the website. However, you could save the document images to your computer and send relatives a folder which would include your spreadsheet plus the document images.
I hope you find this spreadsheet helpful. Please leave a comment below about ways you have or will use it, or ideas to make it even more useful.
 BCG Application Guide 2017. Board for Certification of Genealogists, Washington, DC. http://www.bcgcertification.org/brochures/BCGAppGuide2017.pdf
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.