Tracing your family tree can be an advantageous experience. You can learn more about your recent ancestors and even find new relatives.
But, it can also be confusing regarding terminology and relationships. For example, you may hear about your cousin being “once removed.” This means that they are one generation above or below you.
Start With Your Parents
Creating a family tree can be time-consuming, but it is rewarding. Aside from learning more about your ancestry, it allows you to connect with other relatives and share stories. Knowing what you’re looking for before starting your research is essential. Start with your parents, grandparents, and other direct ancestors. Try to obtain birth, marriage, and death records.
Depending on your research subject, you should search for information about individuals not directly related to the topic. This could happen if you need more information about an ancestor or have gaps in generational connections.
It’s also a good idea to watch for family photos. These can provide valuable information, including names, dates, and locations. They can also help you fill gaps that would otherwise be difficult to bridge. Try to document every piece of information you discover with a source, and include a photo whenever possible.
Once you have a solid foundation of information, it’s time to put it all together. It’s recommended to use a professional genealogy software program designed specifically for this purpose. Many offer the option to color-coordinate shapes or lines and labels to group generations, distinguish deceased from living relatives, and create a distinction between different types of relationships.
Keep an Eye Out for Family Photos
Once you’ve figured out your relationship with a distant family member, you’ll want to keep track of it. Use a tool to make a family tree diagram to share with your relatives. This allows everyone to collaborate on the visual and contribute their insights, even in different locations or time zones.
Learning some genealogy terms and definitions can be helpful to make it easier to understand your DNA matches. The more you know, the better you can communicate with your 1st cousin once removed about your relationship.
For example, a first cousin shares the same parents or grandparents as you. A second cousin is someone who shares your same great-grandparents. A third cousin shares your same great-great-grandparents, and so on.
Cousin relationships can become more complicated if you add in the word “removed.” This describes how many generations separate you from your common ancestor. A first cousin once removed is one generation below you, and a first cousin twice removed is two generations below you.
The easiest way to calculate your relative’s relationship is to identify their most recent common ancestor and subtract one for each generation difference. For example, if your cousin’s father is your brother-in-law, you are his first cousin once removed.
Talk To Your Siblings
To fill in gaps before diving into parish records, talk to family members who can tell you more about your ancestors. They can provide you with a maiden name or dates not written anywhere. It’s also worth looking around your home to see if you have any photos, letters, or other documents to help you start your family tree.
Many people find that talking to family members is one of the best parts of tracing their family tree. Not only can they give you more information than what is in the records, but they can also share their memoirs with you. This can include stories of how their grandparents met and what happened to them in their later years. These stories can be the icing on the cake that brings the whole family together.
Whether you’re creating your family tree on paper or online, it must be well organized. Having everything written down can save you time and make it easier for other researchers to understand. It can be helpful to use vertical lines for parent-child relationships and horizontal lines to dictate siblings. This will also help you distinguish between marriages and blood relations and ensure correct connections.
Search For Your Ancestors
It’s essential to stay organized while researching your family tree. Otherwise, you could miss out on information that may help you find out more about your ancestors and how they lived their lives. Keep a research log and a system for saving all your findings, including photos, documents, notes, etc.
Start with your direct line of parents and grandparents. Then, begin branching out from there to your great-grandparents and so on. This way, you’ll have a map of where to go next as you search for your ancestors.
Once you have a basic pedigree chart, you can use online resources to fill in the gaps. The site has billions of historical records, so you’ll discover something new about your ancestors.
There are several other free online resources you can use to uncover your family history without signing up for expensive subscriptions or risking the privacy of your personal information. You can also visit local libraries to access genealogy books and microfilm. Another great resource is your local genealogical society. These organizations often have volunteer genealogists who can provide expert advice and assistance. They may even have access to additional records yet to be available online.