Let’s imagine that you have been bitten by the genealogy bug: suddenly, you are very interested in where you come from and who your ancestors are, along with their stories. If you’ve never done any family history or genealogy work before, you might feel a little overwhelmed at the thought of getting started. But worry no more! We’re here to help you take those first steps into the exciting and addicting world of genealogy.
One of the first things you’ll need to get started is some information about your immediate family. Collect names of parents, grandparents, and as many great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-aunts and uncles and so on as you can. With the names, get dates: birth dates, death dates, christening dates, baptism dates, wedding dates, etc. You don’t need every date for every major event that happened in the life of one of your forbears, but the more dates you can find, the better. Ask living relatives for their help or see if you can find family documents with dates on them. Family Bibles, journals, photographs, yearbooks, diplomas, and government papers are all places you can go to when relatives are few and far between.
Next, you will put together a pedigree chart and a family group chart. Don’t worry: this is not nearly as daunting as it sounds. You can find free downloadable and printable pedigree and family group charts online and start filling in the blanks.
A pedigree chart tracks your individual family history back through time. This means that every person listed on the chart is directly related to you: you as the focus individual, your parents, their parents, and so on—usually going back six or seven generations.
The person whose pedigree the chart reflects is listed as No. 1 in a pedigree chart; the father is No. 2, the mother is No. 3, and grandparents and great-grandparents are all given an associated number.
If you want to complete a pedigree chart for someone else (a spouse or an aunt or uncle, for instance), you would list that person in the No. 1 position and complete the rest of the chart.
Family Group Chart or Sheet
These charts record families as groups. If you are married and have children, a family group chart will ask you to list yourself and your spouse along with relevant dates (birth, death, wedding). You will also list each of your children with their birth and other dates (as appropriate). You can fill out a family group chart for any couple and their children in your family tree.
As you find the information you need to complete your pedigree and family group charts, you are very likely to encounter some interesting facts and stories about your ancestors. This will only strengthen your desire to learn your family’s history and find out who these people are who came before you. Legacy Tree can help. We are a team of experienced and educated genealogists trained in a variety of ways to help people learn their personal genealogy. We’ve got some good stories to tell about our efforts, too. Let us help you find your stories. Visit our Home page to get started.