Research Reference Guide

The Level 2 and 3 exams are open book, meaning Internet resources, reference books and personal note files may be consulted for the written portion of the exam.

Candidates are encouraged to create a personal research reference guide to use during the exams, as there will not be enough time to consult the original references. Candidates should design this guide based on their personal needs. Not only will your Research Reference Guide be of value to you during the Level 2 and 3 exams, but it will serve as a handy reference during all your genealogical research.

Items that could be included in a Research Reference Guide:

  • Individual state or province/region/country guides
    • Year of independence or year became a state
    • Years civil registration or vital records began
    • Years of available census or population schedules (federal, state, territorial)
    • Historical timeline
    • Major archives and genealogical or historical societies
    • Major genealogical publications
    • Unique items
    • Maps – country, state, and counties or other jurisdictions
    • Key records available online
  • General history/geography
    • Historical background
    • Timelines
    • Maps & gazetteers (Finding aids)
    • Migration Trails
  • Research methodology
    • Methodology = using best practices/strategies in deciding which records to use and how to use them
    • Make a quick reference sheet of methodology unique to the particular area
  • Record types in your region
  • Online sources and electronic databases
    • Lists of major online collections (could also be placed in state/country reference section)
    • Lists of online resources of archives, libraries, genealogical and historical societies
  • Document Interpretation resources
    • Document samples
    • Word lists (Latin, Swedish, etc.)
    • Paleography (handwriting) samples
  • Other resources
    • Articles
    • Unique sources
    • Customs and laws
    • Periodicals
    • Research guides
    • List of key reference material

Format suggestions for a Research Reference Guide:

  • Digital files
    • MS Word
    • Google docs
    • Evernote
    • Store on a flash drive or online
  • Use a physical binder to compile your resources on paper
  • Use a combination of these options

Where to Find the Information for the Reference Guide:

  • FamilySearch Wiki
  • “Research Outlines” from the FamilySearch Wiki
  • FHL Catalog
  • Major databases: FindMyPast, FamilySearch, Ancestry
  • Linkpendium
  • Major repository websites (FS Wiki “United States Archives” or similar articles for your country)
  • For US regions: National Genealogical Society (NGS) state guides