With winter fast approaching, many of us will be spending more time indoors. It is the perfect opportunity to begin your genealogy.
Have you thought about researching your family history but you don’t know where to start?
The answer is very simple, begin with yourself and start at home. In genealogy we start with ourselves and work backward. Begin by writing down your name, birth date and place, parents, marriage date and place, and children.
A useful way to record this information is to fill out a Family Group Sheet. A free blank Family Group Sheet forms can be found at http://www.ancestry.com/save/charts/familysheet.htm. Filling out a Family Group sheet will organize your thoughts and will help you determine the information you have. After you have made a Family Group Sheet on yourself, make one for your parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Every family group combination (husband and wife) should have a Family Group Sheet.
Next, you want to fill out a Pedigree Chart. A Pedigree Chart traces your direct line of ancestors, such as parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. It does not includes family members such as cousins, aunts, and uncles. Free blank Pedigree Charts can be found online.
To fill out the Pedigree chart, start with yourself as No. 1. No. 2 is your father, No. 3 your mother, No. 4 your paternal grandfather (father’s father), No. 5 your paternal grandmother (father’s mother), No. 6 your maternal grandfather (mother’s father) and No. 7 your maternal grandmother (mother’s mother). Continue filling in the chart with the information that you know. Some tips for filling out Family Group Sheets and Pedigree Charts:
The next step is to document the data you have recorded. Collect all the information about you and your family that is in home. Examples of these records are birth, baptism, marriage, military discharge papers, church and school records, diplomas, newspaper clippings, divorce papers, scrapbooks, Bibles, letters, journals, wills, funeral books, deeds, wedding and anniversary announcements. Contact family members and ask questions about the family. Ask if they have any records which were listed above or know any stories about the family. Be sure to take good notes when speaking to relatives.
You may choose to use a genealogy program to organize your information. Check out my column dated January 24, 2004 on the Broomfield Enterprise Web site to learn more about selecting a genealogy program.
I would recommend that you fill out a few Family Group Sheets and a Pedigree Chart before using a genealogy program. This will help you to become familiar with basic genealogy concepts.
Want to learn more about how to climb your family tree? Attend a local class, purchase a beginning genealogy book or take an online course.
There is a beginning genealogy course every month given by the Colorado Genealogical Society at Denver Public Library downtown. The class is from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month. Registration is not required and the class is free.
Genealogy books for the beginner can be purchased at local bookstores and many are available online. Most libraries also have books for the beginner.
Online courses are another way to help you get started. The National Genealogical Society has a home study course Introduction to Genealogy which is available through the NGS Learning Center at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/Courses/Course.cfm?CID=1.
In addition, Rootsweb.com and Genealogy.com both have learning centers that are free.
Discovering your roots can be a very rewarding hobby. If you are curious about your family history, this winter would be a good time to start discovering.