· “That branch of history which involves the determination of family relationships. This is not done by copying but rather by research.”[i]
· “A research field concerned primarily with accurately reconstructing forgotten or unknown identities and familial relationships in the past and present, typically covering more than one generation and including adoptive, biological, extramarital, marital, and other kinds of familial relationships…”[ii]
· “Genealogy is the study of families in genetic and historical context. Within that framework, it is the study of the people who compose a family and the relationships among them. At the individual level, it is biography, because we must reconstruct each individual life in order to separate each person’s identity from that of others bearing the same name. Beyond this, many researchers also find that genealogy is a study of communities because kinship networks have long been the threads that create the fabric of each community’s social life, politics, and economy.”[iii]
I included the definitions of genealogy in an effort to reinforce the point that you need to conduct your own research, not copy someone else’s branches of “your” family tree off Ancestry.com.
Here are a few things you should know about how and where to record the information you have gathered/are gathering.
1. How to record information:
· Record the full name.
· Use [?] for unknown surnames
· Surnames, or last names, should be in ALL CAPITAL letters: MAHARREY
· Ladies’ maiden names should be in ALL CAPITAL letters within parenthesis: (SADDLER)
· Nicknames or aliases should be within quotation marks: “Cindy”
· My name on a genealogical research document, such as a pedigree chart should be:
Cynthia “Cindy” Lynn (SADDLER)
· Include the county in place names: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky
· Dates must be a two-digit day, completely spelled month, and four-digit year: 03 July 2014
· Your comments or explanations should be enclosed in square brackets: [1 rod = 5.0292 meters]
2. Where to record information:
· Pedigree charts or ancestral charts help you see your direct line of ancestors. They are probably the most familiar documents. Most pedigree charts contain four generations on a single sheet. Charts containing more than four generations are typically considered “ancestral.” Each person on the sheet has a number. The first person, number 1, would be you. Your paternal line extends along the top while your maternal line extends along the bottom. Males are even numbers while females are odd numbers (unless, like me, they are the first person). Record all information as directed above. If you don’t know an answer, leave it blank.
· A family group sheet or family group record is a form that shows an entire family unit at a glance: a father, a mother and their children. Details shared with the ancestral chart include vital information such as birth marriage and death locations and dates. However, additional family group sheet facts include christening dates and places and the birth dates and locations of children which can show migration patterns. Often, while searching for a particular ancestor you encounter a brick wall. Just as often, having the name of a sibling and searching for that sibling can help you find the information you sought for the initial person. Thus, the family group sheet’s collateral relative information can be very valuable when a trail runs cold.
Which should you use first? I recommend first filling out a pedigree chart. Start with you and when you’ve filled in all you know, use it to begin working on your family group sheets. A four generation pedigree chart—completely filled out—will provide the start for eight different family group sheets.
Now that you know how to use the sheets, it is time to fill them up with the information YOU know, and the information you gathered over the past week.
What are you waiting for—get started! Links to my blank pedigree chart and family group sheet are above in the document explanations above, just click and they will open in a separate window. It is best to print them out and write on them. Blue ink provides a GOOD contrast. Other free charts abound on the internet and Google can help you find them.
See you next week.
P.S. Please feel free to email me any questions you may have. Use the contact link under “more…”.
[i] Val D. Greenwood, The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy 3rd Edition (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2000), 3.
[ii] Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 135.
[iii] Board for Certification of Genealogists, “Definition of Genealogy,” (http://www.bcgcertification.org/certification/faq.html#5 : accessed 3 July 2014).