Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lost Relatives and Ancestors: Starting Point

Someone was once quoted as saying “It’s OK that you can’t choose your relatives, because they probably wouldn’t have chosen you either.”

Sure, every family reunion has its share of spats now and then, but think of how well you can smooth things over by showing everyone the progress you’re making on the family tree.

By now you should have downloaded the newest version of Personal Ancestral File see first article “Beginner’s Guide.”

The first step to doing your own research for finding lost relatives and ancestors is to create a four-generation pedigree chart. A great pedigree chart to use can be found at

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Here are a few important things to remember when filling out your pedigree chart:

Start with your name in line No.1.

Fill in all of the males on even numbers and all of the females on odd numbers.

When adding females, always use maiden names.

When writing dates, use the form 05 JAN 1945, not 1/05/45 or 05/1/45. The reason for this is because different cultures code dates in different ways. For example, in the United States, they use the form mm/dd/yyyy, but in Canada, the UK, and other parts of Europe, they use the form dd/mm/yyyy. Using the standard genealogy form will allow your dates to be understood by all.

Complete places with as much information as possible, even if it seems redundant or as a given. For example, when writing a place, use township, county or province, country or state. For example: “Gwennap, Cornwall, England”. An example of a place inside the United States would be “Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts”, or in Canada “Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada”.

If you don’t know the county or town, leave the commas with blank information. For example if a birth county is known, but not the town, it would be written “ , Middelsex, Massachusetts.” Remember: No information is better than Wrong information! When submitting or sharing your information, you don’t want to lead someone on a search in the wrong place, or have them assume information and add the wrong line to their tree.

By following these standard guidelines, you’ll be able to better understand some of the work that’s already been done and compiled in sites like and

Before getting to that stage, it’s important to have at least your four-generation pedigree chart completed because it will serve as the launching pad for finding your lost ancestors. Relatives may need to be contacted in order to get all of the information necessary to fill in your sheet. So go get started!

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