One of my goals this year is to get organized, which includes all of my genealogical files as well as the rest of my house and my life in general. As any genealogist can tell you, especially one who hasn’t filed their “finds” in a while, this can be quite a time-consuming undertaking. Anything researchers find that can make your life easier later is worthy of sharing with others. So, Donna’s Organizational Tip of the Day — use extract forms to record information! Most of us have seen various free extract forms for census records, but what about ship’s passenger lists? You could create your own, but someone named Lisa Perkins has already done the work. An Italian genealogy site has a wonderful collection of Manifest Extract Forms that are freely available in both PDF or html format.
What are they? Extract forms are used to record information “extracted” from record sources. Because the information recorded on passenger lists varied over time, four different forms are listed for four time periods: 1893-1906, 1907-1918, 1919-1925, and post-1925. While there are no forms for lists prior to 1893, you can easily create your own. Before 1893, however, there is far less “personal” information included on each passenger. Depending on the year of arrival, you can gain a wealth of information about your ancestor, including their place of birth. Also interesting are the questions about their appearance such as height, hair color, and eye color. If you don’t have a photograph of an ancestor, at least this can help you imagine their basic appearance.
Why are they useful? Forms such as these are useful for several reasons. First, they can help you get your information organized so you don’t have to search through various papers or images to find what you are looking for. In fact, you don’t even have to print out a copy of the actual list unless you need it for another reason, such as illustrating your family history book. Using the extract forms instead of saving the actual files can save you “filing cabinet” space, whether you file papers or file images on your hard drive. The forms are also useful in noticing facts that may have been overlooked in your initial “find” such as that interesting column entitled: Ever been in the US before? When and where? Because of the hard-to-decipher handwriting on some lists, and the jumble of names thrown together, this can easily be overlooked.
Check out the Manifest Extract Forms site, download the forms, and get your information organized!