Starting Your Family Tree

What is a Family Tree - is a chart used by Genealogists to record family relationships over many generations - ancestors and descendents being the roots and branches of the tree.  The term Family Tree is generally used to refer to any record of descent.

Recording Your Family Tree  Starting your own family tree is quite easy for most people - the earlier you start the better.  You will need somewhere to record your findings and the source of your information.  This may not seem very important at first, but start as you mean to go on - keep a record of where you learnt everything - it will let you check later and it demonstrates to others that your findings are reliable.  Often the source of the information is as interesting as the information itself.

You may record your findings in any form that suits you.  Family History books are available that provide a template - these may work well as a means of recorded and presenting information about a few generations, but may be a bit inflexible - many families and family tree research just does not fit into the template well.  There are numerous family tree software programs available.  A good quality family tree package will provide an easy means of recording and presenting your family tree research.

How to Start your Family Tree  Starting with yourself, record what you know - your names, date and place of birth and any other information that is important to you - record yourself as the source of this information.  Add what you can about your family: parents, siblings, spouse, children, etc. Look at your Birth Certificate - this may provide additional information - if so record your Birth Certificate as a Source Document.  See if you have any other documents that include information you can use.

Now, if possible, try to talk to members of your family to find out what they may know.  Use the records you have already made to help jog memories.  You will find many relatives claim not to know or remember anything - but when you show them what you already have, they can often add some more names or facts, correct you where you have errors or corroborate what you have already.  Ask family members if they have any documents - their own birth or marriage certificates for instance - that you may look at.  Remember to record your source information - who told you or what the document was.

Continuing Your Family Tree  Once your have made a start from your own memory and living relatives, you may find out more by obtaining copies of birth marriage and death certificates for your forebears.  A Birth Certificate or a Marriage Certificate will often provide you with another name for another generation.  Once you have progress far enough back - 3 or 4 generations - you should be able to start finding information in Census Records - many of which are now available online.

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