IN THIS LESSON, YOU'LL
- CREATE a pedigree chart
- DISCOVER a detective's best strategy: the research process
This lesson includes opportunities for class discussion, a video
presentation and an online activity. Vocabulary words are included
at the end of the lesson, though not specifically brought into the
lesson in the form of an assignment. Resulting measurable assignments
include the creation of a pedigree chart, and a list of research
questions. Before teaching this lesson, please re-read the Introduction
to this Guide.
MAIN IDEA NO.1
THE PEDIGREE CHART
chart is simply a way to organize the information you find about
your ancestors. It is not the only chart you'll use during your
family history search, but starting with a pedigree will help you
focus your search from here on out.
As you can see, a pedigree is simply a chart that records descent.
VIEW ANCESTORS EPISODE 203: COMPILED RECORDS
In China, pedigree
charts look much different than they look in America. In this
episode, you'll meet Sheila Hsia, who lives in Hong Kong. Sheila's
family had been recording its genealogy for nearly 4000 years, but
after China's devastating Cultural Revolution, she doubted the survival
of her family's pedigree
charts. Join her as she discovers the fate of these important
family records and learn why her family book is considered a compiled
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
What is a compiled record?
How might compiled records help you in your research?
How is a pedigree
FILL OUT A PEDIGREE CHART Because Sheila's pedigree was written
by many different ancestors over hundreds of years and then gathered
into one book, it is considered a compiled record. Chances are,
your family doesn't have a pedigree
that's been in the family for the last 400 years, so perhaps you'd
better create your own! [You can do this right online and print
it out. Get our Pedigree
Chart at this link.] If you prefer to only record your mother's
or father's side, you may do so for the purposes of this exercise.
Key points to follow:
Start with yourself on line one. Your father's full name should
appear on line two. Your mother's full name before marriage should
appear on line three. (Male names will always be recorded on even
numbers, except for line one, and female names will always be on
odd numbers). Use maiden names for females.
Write dates using the day, month, year (27 MAY 1955).
Write place names as completely as possible (city, county, state).
If you've completed lessons one and two, you'll have much of the
information you need to start filling out your pedigree
chart. But eventually, you'll start to notice the information
that's missing. It could be your paternal grandfather's first name,
or your mother's place of birth. How do you find this missing information?
MAIN IDEA NO.2
THE RESEARCH PROCESS - GUIDED STEPS TO DISCOVERING YOUR ANCESTORS
Without even knowing it, you've started to use a research process
that many successful family history detectives have used. If you
follow this process, you'll be able to find the information you
need to fill in the blanks that now exist on your pedigree chart.
If you've completed lessons one and two in this guide, take particular
note of where you are in the process.
The steps to finding your ancestors look like this:
Step 1: Write down what you know.
By creating a pedigree,
you've already completed Step 1.
Step 2: Decide what you want to learn.
Take a look at the blank spaces on your pedigree. Choose one ancestor
to focus on and then decide what piece of information you want to
learn about that ancestor. It's best if the blanks you try to fill
first are for an ancestor close to you in time, since the chances
of finding information about an ancestor who lived 50 years ago
are much better than if the ancestor lived 500 years ago.
Step 3: Choose a source of information.
What person, object or record will have the information you're looking
for? Is there a gravestone that could tell you the death date of
your great-grandfather? Is there a person who might have already
looked for the headstone and may know the date? Or has a genealogical
society in the town in which your ancestor died created a compiled
record of local death certificates?
Step 4: Learn from the source.
Investigate the source for the information you are looking for.
Go to the cemetery, call your relative or perhaps write the local
Step 5: Use what you learned.
Evaluate the results of your search and share your information with
relatives who are also family history detectives.
MAIN IDEA NO.3
COMPILED RECORDS, HERE WE COME!
In step 2, you've used your pedigree to decide which ancestor you'd
like to know more about. Write a list of questions about this ancestor,
then choose a question to answer in step 3.
If you've got a relative or a family artifact that can give you
the answer, then great! Go on to steps 4 and 5, gathering the information
and then writing it down on your pedigree.
But, if your answer can only be found in records, then it's time
to look for a compiled record.
There are many kinds of compiled records, such as family histories,
biographies, local histories and vital records collections. To give
you an idea of some that are available online, check out the following
This site is an online compiled record of pedigrees for the royal
families of Britain. Take a look at the pedigrees
of Queen Victoria or Mary, Queen of Scots.
Cyndi'sList, one of the largest sites for genealogical links, offers
this great index of biographies. Biographies are considered compiled
records because they usually include information gathered from a
number of sources.
This site is for the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The
Family History Library is the largest genealogical library in the
world. Click on "Browse Categories", and then click on "Family Histories
and Genealogies" to see if someone has already given the library
information on your family tree.
Your local library or genealogical society might have some compiled
records that would answer your research question. To find a genealogical
society in your area, contact the Federation of Genealogical Societies
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED AND . . .
Remember that the advantage of finding a compiled record is that
someone might have already done a lot of family history detective
work. If this person has been a solid detective and has cited the
sources from which he or she gathered information, then you have
made a fantastic beginning.
. . . WHAT'S NEXT?
After checking for compiled records, it's time to dive into original
records. Ancestors episode four will show you how, with new technologies,
accessing records is now easier than ever!
Pedigree Chart: A chart that indicates a person's descent.
Compiled Record: A record (usually in book form) consisting
of information that has been gathered from original records, other
compiled records and verbal testimony. Examples include "The Life
of Thomas Walpole Tyrrell" or "The History of the Wright Family"
because these books will include information from living people
as well as various record sources.
Original Record: A record created at or close to the time
of an event by an eyewitness to the event. (e.g., a birth record
by the doctor who delivered the baby.)
Given name: A person's first name(s).
Surname: A person's last name or family name.
Maiden name: A female's surname at birth.
Pedigree: An ancestral line or line of descent.
Paternal Line: The line of descent on a father's side.
Maternal Line: The line of descent on a mother's side.
Archive: A place in which public records or historical documents
are preserved and researched. Unlike a Library, archived records
cannot be checked out but can be used in the building.