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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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