Meanwhile, let's get down on paper the information you have so far. The things you know. Millie, my Pug to the left, brings up a good point. The pedigree chart. When you think about it, building your genealogy or your family history is like building a house. The foundation is where you get the information (sources). The framework of the house represents the facts. And everything else is the family history. The stories. [Simplistic? Yes. But I think it works.] Anywho, the best way to start on the framework is to fill-out a pedigree chart. Are you going to know everything? Um. No. But just as builders have a blueprint of the house they're going to build, you're going to need to start drawing up the blueprint of your family tree.
Further, filling out this chart will identify what you know and what you don't know. [You know?] This is important for all your future research. How else do you know what you need to look for? How can you possibly look for answers to questions that you haven't even asked? [*snort* Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green?]
Oh. And to my Ancestry.com user friends, if you already have a pedigree chart from your Ancestry.com tree, great! BUT put it aside. Why? [Because I'm the genealogist. That's why. *wink*] Because it's so easy to merge information into your tree from Ancestry.com. So easy that you might have unknowingly collected information from someone else's family tree that is incorrect and undocumented. [And do I really need to mention what happens when your foundation is not solid? It affects every part of your house. In a bad way.] Now. While Ancestry.com is a very, extremely useful research tool [including the tree], it's just that. A tool. It's not an end product, in my opinion. Don't get me wrong. I use it all the time. But I use it as a tool. [You're just gonna have to trust me on this one. It'll make sense later. I promise.]
Now, I think this chart is pretty self-explanatory. Here are some things, though, to keep in mind when filling it out:
- You are number 1. I mean, yes, you are great and wonderful. But I was referring to the fact that your name goes in the space marked with the number one. And speaking of number 1, this is chart 1. The numbering of charts will become very important in keeping your rabbits [Oops. I mean ancestors.] organized later, but right now we're using this pedigree chart as a worksheet.
- So, starting with yourself in the number 1 blank, fill-in each generation's information with as much information that you know. See? You're starting with yourself and working backwards.
- Who's your daddy? The answer to this question goes in blank #2, up above you. And your momma's info is going to go in blank #3, below you. The father always goes above, and the mother always goes below. Then you do the same for your father, listing his parent's info and for your mother, listing her parent's info. And so on and so forth.
- List full names and nicknames, birth, marriage, and death information.
- If you don't know something, that's O.K. This isn't a test. Just skip it and move on. Remember. The whole point of this exercise is to figure out what you know and what you don't know.
- Also, this information is what you know as fact as well as information that you have proof of. You know, all that stuff you collected? The documents? And yes, knowing that your grandparents are your grandparents counts. That's your personal knowledge of them. What this doesn't include is information from a family tree that you found online or in a book. Those are clues. Not facts. They have their place in research, but that's not here.