Begin a Family Tree

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Expert Question: I would like to know about my ancestors and do not know how to start.

Expert Answer:  Everyone's family tree is different and therefore the effort to trace one's tree is different as well.  If you're just starting out, you will need to construct a family tree with the information that you know about. 

You can either write it on paper or use a software program like Family Tree Maker.  I suggest the later as your tree will grow quickly.  Start with your direct ancestors (parents and their parents, etc.) and work backwards - this is called a Pedigree chart. 

Then expand the tree by including the siblings of each of the people on your Pedigree chart.  To do this, use a Family Group Sheet.  You can see and download one at  http://www.familytreeexpert.com/fte/answers/charts.htm.  This is where the tree really begins to grow.  Be sure to include the dates and places for each major event in their lives - birth, marriage, death, etc..

To gather information beyond simple dates and places, use a Personal Profile Form.  An example of this can be found and downloaded from http://www.familytreeexpert.com/fte/answers/charts.htm.  This is also a great chart to copy and give or send to relatives.

Once you've documented what you know, it is time to being the actual research.  This includes interviewing relatives for information and accessing documents in various archives.  To learn more about this, read some of the other Expert Advice from the Family Tree Expert.

Still have questions, Ask the Expert.

 

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