If you have not seen the new NBC show Who Do You Think You Are? You are missing out. This has become by far my new favorite show. Each week it follows a celebraty as they journey back in history to discover their family roots. Sara Jessica Parker discovered she had a ancestor who was put on trial for being a witch during the Salem Witch Trials, Lisa Kudrow discovered an ancestor alive that had been presumed dead, Mathew Brodrick discovered he had an ancestor that died fighting in the Cival War. The show airs Friday nights on NBC and Susan Saradon will be the next celebraty to discover her ancestry.
My passion for genealogy began nearly twenty years ago while I was in college. I was taking a Cultural Diversity course and the class was given an assignment to put together a family tree project. In starting that project I discovered how little I really knew about my heritage. I decided then to discover all I possibly could to learn more about my ancestors; who they were, where they were from.
I began by sitting down with my Maternal Grandfather to discover what information he had. He started by writing out a pedigree chart starting with myself and working backwards. I was amazed by the abundance of information my Grandfather was able to provide me with. He was able to provide not only names, but dates and professions as well as locations for each of my ancestors. That day I walked away with a pedigree chart going back four generations on both his side of my tree and my Grandmothers. I was fascinated.
In the nearly 20 years since that warm June afternoon, I have been able to trace several branches of my family tree, some as far back as the 1500’s. I have been able to solve long time family mysteries and accurately document many stories that originated from family folklore. I get such a rush from discovering another ancestor and being able to step one step further into my family history. I have learned on my journey that everyone has a story and I have made it my responsibility to record my family’s story for future generations.
I am by no means a professional genealogist, but I have learned a lot in the last twenty years and I would like to share my journey with others interested in tracing their family history. I will be putting together a series of post to add you in your quest, take what information works for you and adapt the information I provide to help your self discover your ancestors. So let’s get started…………..
The very first step in the genealogy process is to start with what you know. The best way to do this is to start a pedigree chart beginning with yourself and working backwards from you. I have included a blank Pedigree Chart for you.
Once you have filled in as many names as you can from knowledge you already have, start an Individual Record Sheet for each member on your Pedigree Chart. Individual Record Sheets will be used to record all information you discover about that ancestor as you make your way back through history. I have provided a blank record sheet for you.
Your next step will be to talk to other family members and see what additional information they can provide. This is when your Individual Record Sheets will come in handy. You will know exactly what information is missing and will be able to gear discussions to fill in as many blanks as you can.
Have fun discovering your ancestry and be sure to check back for additioanl steps and tips for continuing your journey into the past.