Do People Grow On Family Trees — pgs. 34 & 35

Your own long and fascinating history is waiting to be discovered. Genealogy is as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Gather all the facts you know or can easily find out about your family. By talking to relatives, you will locate lots of information about your past. You might also discover that they have documents that will lead you to more information.

  2. Organize what you discover. Put all your information in one place, arranged so that you can find it easily and refer to it. Make sure everything is accurate.

  3.  Find new information. Look for new sources of information. Make sure any new information is accurate, also. Then write it down in your own record books.

You don’t need any fancy equipment. A loose-leaf notebook and a pencil will get you off to a fine start.

Now, for the very first step. An important rule in genealogy is this: go from the known to the unknown. Let what you know lead you to what you don’t know. What you know about your own life will lead you to information about your parents’ lives. In this way you will delve deeper and deeper into the past.

You won’t begin your search for the past in a library, in a government records center, or in interviews with family members. You’ll start gathering the facts from the person you know best: yourself.

At the top of a piece of loose-leaf paper, write HISTORY OF (your name). Then write the facts of your life. Answer these questions, or at least answer as many of them as you can:

When you finish, examine your first genealogical record carefully. What information are you not 100 percent sure about? (Make a note by putting a question mark next to these answers.) What information is missing?

Have your mother or father check your answers to be sure that there are no mistakes, and ask them to help you fill in any missing information.

Now you are ready to transfer all the information onto your first genealogical chart. This is the most convenient way to keep track of your ancestors.

Some charts are drawn in complex designs, like ornate pictures of real trees with hundreds of branches. Other charts may be simple but enormous, with nothing more than lots of lines and words connecting across a sheet of paper. Family trees can also be displayed in many creative ways. People don’t just write them down. They sew them, draw them, paint, crochet, appliqué, embroider, and computerize them.

There are photo family trees using pictures of each generation. There are calligraphy trees made out of the names of all the family members.

In a booklet called “The Living Family Tree,” Marie Schreiner offers suggestions for unusual family trees. Among her ideas:


Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society