983How to Climb Your Family Tree
- Nov 14, 2009Climbing your family tree (researching your family history) is a rewarding and interesting hobby. It can help you to learn about your ancestry, and gain an appreciation for the lives they led. As you climb your family tree you will find many surprises. Your ancestors may have been kings and queens, or pirates and brigands. They may have been hard working farmers, or rich merchants. Whatever they were, without them you would not be here. As you climb your family tree, you will also find many of your cousins climbing the same tree, or one of its many branches. You will be surprised by how many people you are related to, and how closely we are all related to one another.
How to Begin
In climbing any tree one begins at the bottom and works their way up. In climbing your family tree, begin with yourself and work backwards from one generation to the next.
Where to Begin
Begin with yourself. Write down or use a word processor to record information that you personally know. Contact all of your relatives; find out what they know about your family history. Visit them personally, if you can. Ask specific questions such as:
? Given names and surnames (maiden names of females) of parents and children of each generation. ? Date and place of birth and death of each person. ? Where they lived ? Their occupation ? Military service
Be sure to visit or contact elderly relatives as soon as possible; they very often have a lot of information. If possible, interview them and record their answers; when they are gone their knowledge may be lost. Record the information you find on pedigree charts, and family group sheets.
A pedigree chart is a road map of your ancestry. How many generations each chart displays depends on its style; five generations is typical.
The first name on the pedigree chart (first generation) should be yours. The second generation is your parents, the third generations is your grandparents, and etc back to the latest generation.
Record the following information on the pedigree chart for each generation:
? Given name and surname of each of your ancestors (use the maiden name of females ? Date of birth or christening. ? Place of birth. ? Date and place of marriage. ? Death date and place; also record when and where buried if known.
Family Group Sheet
Create a family group sheet for each family on your pedigree chart. (A family group sheet is used to record information about each family in your ancestry.)
On each family group sheet, record the following information about each set of parents and their children:
? Given name and surname of each person in the family (use the maiden name of females). ? Birth date and place. ? Christening date and place, if known. ? Marriage date and place. ? Death date and place. Also record when and where buried, if known.
NOTE: If an ancestor had more than one spouse, create a separate family group sheet for each spouse and the children born to them.
Where to Find Pedigree Charts and Family Group Sheets
Pedigree charts and family group sheets can be purchased from genealogy specialty stores, or, downloaded for free from many places on the internet. In addition, many family history programs such as Family Tree Maker or Personal ancestry File (PAF) allow you to print pedigree charts and family group sheets with the names you have entered already filled in.
Keep a record of searches made, and the results of each search. (This will prevent you from repeating a search already done) Also keep a To Do list for information you need to find; such as the marriage date and place of your great grandparents.
After you have done everything mentioned above, extend your family tree by conducting further research.
Search census records, marriage records death records, tax records, school records, and etc.
75 percent of your research can be done using internet resources. There are many excellent genealogy sites on the internet, such as ancestry.com, or one great family.com. In addition, there are many surname forums where you will find others researching your family line, and willing to share information with you. Try typing your surname into an internet search engine. You will probably be surprised by the results you get.
Keep a record (citation) of all of your sources of information. This record will help others find the same information, and help you to remember where you found a particular fact about your family history.
As you climb your family tree, you will find many others climbing the same tree or one of its many branches. Use a systematic approach as outlined in this article. Keep accurate records of your research and record the information you find on pedigree charts and family group sheets. Be sure to keep an accurate record (citation) of all of your sources of information.
Good luck with your research.
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