National Roots Day
I love this holiday! It's a genealogist's dream holiday. Roots day. Genealogy is the study of family history through lineage. I was introduced to genealogy when I was around nine years old. I have been conducting research into my family tree ever since. Above is part of my pedigree. On my mother's side I can trace our family to the 17th century. My father's side is harder to trace because my grandparents were from Germany. Some of my family members have tried to trace that line but have come up empty handed. There are many genealogy resources on the web which has opened many door for genealogists to conduct research in areas where they may not be able to visit. Sites such as Ancestry allow descendants from the same lineage to work together in order to find information that they are needing for their own tree. If you look at my banner, you will see two pictures of my ancestors that I found on ancestry.com. The one on the right is my German grandmother, Johanne Weers Bruning and the one of the left is of my Appalachian Irish great - great grandparents, Lina and Dallas McCardle.
How to Build Your Family Tree
A family tree is a form that genealogists use to track their lineage. To start with grab this lineage chart from ancestry http://c.ancestry.com/pdf/trees/charts/anchart.pdf. YOU WILL NEED TO WRITE IN PENCIL AND MAKE SEVERAL COPIES OF THIS CHART.
Let's get started. Below you see part of your chart. We will always start this chart on the left hand side. Place YOUR name on the first line. Now fill in the rest of the information in your box. Below your box add your spouse's name. If you want to do your spouse's tree you will need another chart.
Great! Now add your parents. You're father goes on the top and your mother goes on the bottom. Always use the maiden name for females not their married names. For example. My parents would be Roland Irving Bruning on top and Betty Jane Carr on bottom.
If you don't know any of the information don't worry about it. We will research it later.
You will also need to create a family group sheet. I have found using these are great when a family has multiple children. Grab this here: http://c.ancestry.com/pdf/trees/charts/famgrec.pdf Each family including your own should have a family group sheet. Don't worry about creating one for siblings of your direct ancestor. We are only interested in your direct lines.
We need to add your grandparent's information to the chart.
Do the same thing you did for your parents on the brackets behind them for their parents. Don't worry if you are missing information. Just write what you know. Behind your grandparents you see more brackets but the information below them is missing. That is because you will only place your great-grandparent's names on the lines. Each great grandparent will have their own chart.
You are doing great!
Now let's talk about the Cont. on Chart lines. Each chart that you create is numbered. This is the first chart of your linage. On the upper right hand corner of your chart you will see:
Write the number 1. This tells you that this chart is your starting point. You will need to keep your charts in order. I have placed all my charts in a 3 ring binder with copies of the evidence to support my claims. We'll talk about evidence later on.
On the upper left hand side you see:
Place a number 1 on the top and bottom lines. This means that you are the first person on this chart. Now go back through your chart and number each person from top to bottom. 1- you, 2- father, 3- mother. 4- paternal grandfather, 5-paternal grandmother...etc.
Now that you have done that look through your information and see what you are missing.
Are you ready for the fun part? I am!
Grab this document: http://c.ancestry.com/pdf/trees/charts/correc.pdf
To find your missing information you will want to interview your parents and grandparents. Don't just ask them for the missing information but also for any stories they can recall. You will want to record this interview if they allow it. I have found some of my best information comes from the stories my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc have told me. Be sure to record your findings on the document I have given you. Once you have the information you seek return to your tree and place it in the bracket it belongs in. See how far back you can get while interviewing your relatives. They may even give you documents and portraits for your tree. You will want to accept those. I have found my father's birth certificate by talking to my brother.
Here are some other places you will want to look:
- Family reunions
- Local Libraries.
Military records will not be found at the courthouse. I would suggest finding those on ancestry. You can request any military personnel's records through
If your ancestors were immigrants you can search the Ellis Island records for free at http://www.ellisisland.org
Here is another resource http://www.argenweb.net/crawford/favorite.htm
- Genealogy Societies
You can also take photos of the gravestone. If you can't get to the location yourself you can ask someone on FindAGrave to take a picture for you. You can also search FindAGrave to locate your ancestor's grave. Here is their link. http://www.findagrave.com
Before you head out to the cemetery be sure to grab these forms. http://www.argenweb.net/crawford/images/CemeteryRecords-pg1.pdf
When you get to the cemetery you will want to document where your ancestor's grave is located. You can record more than one ancestor on this form. Be sure to also map where the headstones are located so that it will be easier to find if you or someone else returns.
- Ancestry Societies
These groups are not only filled with people who share a common heritage with you but are also about keeping history alive and serving others.
The Next Chart
Now that you have all the information you need on the first chart it's time to pick a great- grandparent and start a new chart. You will place that grandparent on the first line of the new chart. On the new chart find this at the top and put a number 2. Every time you start a new chart you will put the next number in that space.
Find that on the top of your new chart. Now go back to your first chart. Find the number associated with your ancestor on the first chart and place that number on the top line. Below the line place a number 1. This tells you where to find your ancestor on the preceding chart. You will continue to do this for each new chart. Make certain you match the ancestor to the correct chart and number.
That's it. You just continue the process with each new chart. ENJOY!