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Family Genealogy
Research Your Family Tree
And Discover Your Roots


It's time to get the whole family together again. Family genealogy is the study and record of your kinship back through history. Researching your family tree is a very rewarding hobby. Your heritage is a big part of who you are. You can create your family tree, starting with yourself and your parents, and reaching back in time to grandparents, and great-grandparents. In the process of putting together a family genealogy, you'll learn more about your identity and your roots.
  1. Family Genealogy
  2. Famous Family Trees
  3. The Internet Is a Great Resource for Family Genealogy
  4. How To Start Your Family Genealogy
  5. How to Organize Your Family Genealogy
  6. Online Research for Family Genealogy
  7. Two Famous Sites for Family Genealogy
  8. The Pedigree Chart for Family Genealogy
  9. How to Organize Your Research
  10. DNA Testing for Family Genealogy
  11. Useful Sites for Family Genealogy
Family Genealogy
Family genealogy is the study of families, kinship, lineages and history. Genealogists use historical records, oral traditions, and even genetic analysis to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate the kinship and pedigrees of its members. The results are often illustrated in charts called family trees or written as family history.

Family genealogy is an important part of history from early times. People kept records of their family ancestry to prove their royal line of succession. Family genealogy was also used to prove the rights of inheritance. The Greeks used family genealogy to show that they were descended from gods an goddesses. The Romans used their family tree to determine that they were of the noble class, rather than plebeians. The Bible reports much family genealogy and lineage: "Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren." Because genealogy was so important, Henry VIII of England ruled that churches should keep a record of all christenings, baptisms, marriages and burials to verify family genealogy.

Everyone wants to know where they came from. That's often why they begin a family genealogy. Don't you wish you could talk to your ancestors? Perhaps many of your ancestors are unknown. How much of your family tree do you know about? You might be related to royalty or wealthy ancestors. There might be a president or a famous person in your background. When you begin your family genealogy, you will definitely uncover interesting people, events and facts in your personal history.
Famous Family Trees
The family tree of Confucius has been maintained for over 2,500 years, and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest family tree known. Artists painted the magnificent family tree of Ludwig Herzog who ruled Wurttemberg from 1568-1593. Many families took great care to record their family history in the pages of the family Bible. Norman Rockwell's Family Tree is a humorous painting of a unique family genealogy. When Alex Haley published his book Roots, The Saga of an American Family in 1976, many people were encouraged to discover their own roots and to begin their family genealogy.
The Internet Is a Great Resource for Family Genealogy
The Internet makes it easier to trace your family tree. The Internet is the biggest library in the world. Many documents required for your genealogy research are in digital form on the Internet. You'll find census and property records, birth and death records, published family histories, directories, newspaper archives, and local and federal government documents. The Internet also allows individuals working on their family lines to add their research to other online documents, so family members working on different paths of the same family line can communicate quickly and easily.
How To Start Your Family Genealogy
If you enjoy history or if you are curious about your family tree, you'll take to genealogy with enthusiasm. There are three steps to your research: collect information, organize it, and make reports. There are numerous databases online where you can search for your ancestors. You can also start by talking to older relatives. Their stories will give you lots of information you probably don't even know. They will tell you about childhood anecdotes, family traditions, and family history that bring your family genealogy alive.
How to Organize Your Family Genealogy
To organize your results in a family tree, there are many free charts available to print out. There is also free and low-priced software available to make the job easier. Family genealogy software lets you enter your facts as you discover them. When you are ready, the software will make a chart of your family tree. Other software will help you create a web site for your family genealogy research. You might even decide to write a family book of the things you learned. Genealogy software is available to help you do all these things and more with the click of a mouse. The most popular software programs are Family Tree Maker and The Master Genealogist. You can also consider other genealogy software packages like Legacy Family Tree, rootsMagic, Personal Ancestry File or Ancestral Quest. If you want to upload your research and share it online with others who are working on the same family, software makes it possible. The websites RootsWeb and FamilySearch allow you to share your research online. Web sites use the popular GEDCOM format to save your family tree online.
Online Research for Family Genealogy
You'll probably begin your online search looking at the vital records. These record dates of birth, marriage, divorce and death. There's no need to visit city offices or pay the recorder's fee. These records are now available online. In fact, you'll be amazed at the amount of information waiting for you. For your research you'll look through birth records, death records, marriage and divorce records, adoption records, biographies like Who's Who, census records, church records of baptisms, christenings, confirmations, bar or bat mitzvah, memberships, and marriages and funerals.

There are more databases for you explore online. You can browse coroner's reports, court records both criminal and civil, immigration and naturalization records, land and property records and deeds, medical records, military records, newspaper articles, obituaries, passports, workhouse and asylum records, school and alumni records, ship passenger lists, Social Security and pension records, tax records, cemetery records, funeral home records, voter registration records, wills and probate records, and telephone directories.
Two Famous Sites for Family Genealogy
Sooner or later, everyone, amateurs and professionals, winds up on two sites, Ancestry and Cyndi's List. Ancestry, at www.ancestry.com, is dedicated to collecting all records, documents and manuscripts of interest to genealogists. The site offers a free trial for two weeks, and continual use for a modest monthly subscription fee. On Ancestry you'll find billions of digital records to search, including U.S. census forms, military records starting in 1775, newspapers, court, land and probate records, personal biographies and photographs.

Cyndi's List at cyndislist.com is a free collection of over 250,000 links to all important genealogy sites on the Internet. The links are categorized and indexed for your convenience. Both beginners and professionals use Cyndi's site in their family genealogy research.
The Pedigree Chart for Family Genealogy
How will you record that data on your expanding family tree? To keep track of collected material, researchers use pedigree charts and family group sheets. Formerly handwritten, these can now be generated by genealogy software. The Internet offers free forms to your use. You'll want to start with a pedigree chart and the family group sheet, which can be downloaded from FamilySearch.org or ancestry.com.

The Pedigree Chart is a diagram that looks like a tree laid sideways. There are places to enter your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, with spaces for dates of birth, marriage and death. The chart assigns a standardized number for each person. The first individual, probably you yourself, is #1, Your father and mother are #2 and #3, your father's father is #4, and so on down to #32 through #63 for all your great-great-great-grandparents. The Family Group Sheet lets you use one sheet for each family. It has room for more information than the Pedigree Chart. These two forms will get you started on your own hunt for ancestors.

Dedicated researchers also keep track of the sources they used for research, and where information was found. The Internet provides you many free forms for your family tree. You'll find them at Family Tree Magazine, Free Genealogy Forms and Bailey's Free Genealogy Forms.
How to Organize Your Research
Genealogists suggest you use four files to organize your paper documents. Proof files contain the originals of the documents you collect, birth and death certificates, photographs, letters, marriage licenses and so on. Your proof file probably belongs in a safe deposit box. Surname files are your working copies of the proof files with notes about new research topics. Portable files hold copies of the family group sheets and pedigree charts you are working on. On your computer, your digital files contain detailed information and source citations for all the facts you've uncovered. This is called the repository. Record every piece of information and your source for it. You'll want to revisit and study your sources many times, and these files will make it possible. As you continue your family genealogy, your goal is always to go one generation further back in time.
DNA Testing for Family Genealogy
The technology of DNA testing makes it possible to trace and locate relatives around the world. The Web site Ancestry at www.ancestry.com allows you to submit your DNA test so you can match up with unknown relatives. A genealogy DNA test allows two individuals to find the probability that they are, or are not, related within an estimated number of generations. Individual genetic test results are collected in databases to match people descended from a relatively recent common ancestor.
Useful Sites for Family Genealogy
Here are some additional online sites for your genealogy search. There are hundreds more sites of advice, education, databases, message boards and mailing lists to encourage your genealogy search. You can also join an online family history society, where novices can learn from more experienced genealogists. Behind this wealth of information is a network of friendly volunteers, researchers, hobbyists, and friends who share your interest in family genealogy.
  • Genealogy at www.genealogy.com.
  • Family Search at www.familysearch.org.
  • Ancestry at www.ancestry.com, probably the most valuable of all the genealogy sites.
  • National Archives Resources at www.archives.gov/genealogy.
  • The USGenWeb Project at www.usgenweb.org.
  • American Memory Project at memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html for historical collections about the American experience.
  • Family Tree Magazine at www.familytreemagazine.com
  • Genealogy Today at www.genealogytoday.com
  • Encyclopedia of Genealogy at www.eogen.com for free advice and tools


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