The study of genealogy pertains only to discovering members of a specific family and determining how these family members are related to each other.
Family history is the actual narrative of your ancestors’ lives. This area of study also includes learning about the context in which your ancestors lived. In essence, it encompasses just about everything about your heritage: tracking the dates of your ancestors’ births and deaths, the jobs they held, and any other important factors in their lives.
Genealogy is a vital tool in understanding family histories. In the decades immediately following World War II, genealogy helped families find members displaced by the many tragic events of the war.
There are other reasons families get separated, as well. Consider famines, where some members must flee the country in order to survive. A mother may move away with her children in order to keep them alive. During the time surrounding World War II, some family members fled their homes in order to save their children or the elderly from undue social persecution or even death.
In these cases, genealogy plays a major role in making fractured families whole again…even when the family isn’t aware that they have missing members.
A pedigree chart is a form that lists an individual family member and his or her direct ancestors, along with all the important data about his or her life. This is a must-have chart. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea for you start your family history quest with it.
The first chart you create will be all about you! It branches back into history, showing your direct ancestors. Pedigree charts typically document four generations of a family. The chart generally has spaces to add names, birth dates, marriage dates, and death dates for each individual.
Your name is placed on the first line on the chart. Your father’s information is recorded on the second line, and your mother’s information on the third line. From here, the chart takes two distinct routes. The first follows the individual’s father’s family history. This is the upper track of the form. The mother’s route is recorded on the bottom track.
Record your name, your birthdate, the location of your birth, as well as your parents’ information. Be sure to include your mother’s maiden name. Then record all your vital statistics. Were you baptized, christened, confirmed, or bar mitzahed? You can also include the years you went to school, as well as the names of the schools you attended. Don’t leave anything out. Have you been married? Be sure to include the full name of your spouse or spouses, as well as any children produced through these marriages. If any of these marriages ended in divorce, record the dates of the divorce. This is the information that future generations will use to learn about your family.
Where the pedigree chart focuses on an individual’s history, the Family Group Sheet spotlights an entire family. This particular tool provides space two record information about a couple and their children. It also contains fields to record the birth, marriage, death, and locations of burial for each member. This sheet allows you to not only include information on the individuals, but on your ancestors’ spouses and children as well. If your pedigree chart is a portrait of your life, then consider the family group sheet a wide-angle photograph of your family.
When you have difficulty locating a birth certificate on a specific ancestor, turning to this sheet and checking on your ancestor’s siblings may yield more clues. Knowing something about a missing ancestor’s brother or sister gives you a starting point to look for some of the necessary documentation to confirm that ancestor’s membership in your family.
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