Free Family Tree Charts
and Genealogy Forms

 
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In today's rapidly advancing technological world however, it wasn't going to be long before someone found a way to make our friend the computer do the real work of data storage and retrieval, and those researchers with access to even the humblest of personal computers will now find a suitable program available at relatively little cost or even free. Legacy Family Tree has a free Windows based software available for download. This isn't trial software. It is fully functional and will suit the needs of most.

Whichever method you choose to use, software or pen and paper, you will need to know which charts or forms to use and how to enter the data that you have collected.

The most often used chart is the ascendant pedigree chart. The ascendant pedigree chart will start with you and move backwards through time. Your first entry will be yourself and then there will be two branches where you enter your parents. It will then move onto four branches where you will enter your parents parents (your grandparents) and so on. On these forms you will record the name, birth, marriage and death dates and places of your ancestors.

These charts normally record four or five generations on each page, but are available with up to fifteen generations per page. You will find that the four generation per page format is easier and more convenient to work with.

There is also a numbering system for the pedigree chart known as the ahnentafel numbering system (after the older ahnentafel chart which is not used very often today. The numbering system is very easy and works like this: You would be number one on the chart, your father would be two times the child's number (2x1=2) and your mother would be two times the child's plus one (2x1+1=3). Your male ancestors will always be an even number and your female ancestors will always have an odd number assigned.
Another type of form you will use, is the family group sheet. The
family group sheet is basically the worksheet that is used for your research. This is the form you will use to keep track of your family unit and the cousins, aunts and uncles that are in your family. A separate form is used for each single family unit and you will record dates and places of birth, marriage, death and burial and make notes on this form.

There are some rules you should follow when entering your data on the various charts. These rules will make it easier for you to refer back to the data you have entered.

Names

When entering names, you should enter them in their normal order, first, middle and last (or surname). Putting last names in all capital letters will make it easier for you to follow the different family names and to tell the last, middle and first name apart.

If a female ancestors maiden name is know, you should enter this name, If it is not known, enter either a set of empty parentheses or the husbands last name.

If a female ancestor has had more then one marriage, you should enter her given name and then the maiden name followed by the last name of her previous husband(s).

If an ancestor was commonly referred to by a nickname, you should enter that in quotes after their given name.

If your ancestors last name spelling has changed due to a move to another country or for ease of use, include both spellings on the form. ie. SMYTHE/SMITH.

Dates 

When entering dates it is best to use the European standard of day. month and four digit year. For example 12 November 1903. You should spell out the month but, you can abbreviate the longer months using standard abbreviations. If you are  unsure of the exact date you can use "about" or "circa" to specify the approximate date.

Places

The generally accepted method for recording place names is to begin with the smallest locality first and then work your way up to the largest. You would therefore begin with the town or city name then the county or district name, then the state or province name and lastly the country name. If you do not have all of this information you can easily research it on the Internet. Just type the search phrase "geographic place names" into Google or another search engine and you will find many online resources.

How To Find Clues In Family Resources

The first step in the-actual investigative process is of course that of gaining access to family documents, bibles ,books, photograph albums and so on. One must also of necessity decide which side of the family will be traced; whether the male or female line.

Usually the male line is traced, making for easier access to similar names throughout the relevant generations. Obviously the process is not nearly so easy when it is the female line which is featured as the center of interest.

Also at this point one may make an educated but very important decision concerning the name concerned. In past centuries many names were derived from places, father's names, and sometimes from the trade one is engaged in, and hence we come by many named 'London', 'Hill', 'Wood' (places); 'Williamson', 'Smithson' and 'Johnson' (father's names or 'son of '); or 'Baker' and 'Smith' (trades).

The normal process of gathering information, as we have already considered, begins with informal chats with members of your family, particularly the older members whose memory can be relied upon to uncover facts which hitherto had passed into those deep recesses and which might otherwise never have been extracted if not for the purposes of tracing your family's history.

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