MAIN IDEA NO.2
FAMILY GROUP RECORDS
Let's pretend that you posted a query in a genealogical chat room and your query went something like, "I'm looking for information on my great grandfather, John Lovell, who lived in Allen County, Indiana at about 1900." A couple of days later, you receive an e-mail from a kindly gentleman who says, "I'm a descendant of Sarah Lovell who lived in Allen County at about that time." How do you know you're related?
As you already know, a pedigree chart lists the ancestors from whom you are directly descended. But most of your ancestors had brothers and sisters who also grew up, married and had children. The person who answered your e-mail may be a descendant of one of these siblings and therefore a distant cousin. If this is the case, your new friend may have researched your family back for many generations. His chart will be helpful in extending your own pedigree. So, how do you prove he is a cousin?
There is a chart used in genealogy which keeps track of your ancestor's siblings. It's called a family group record.
CREATE A FAMILY GROUP RECORD
chart 1 | chart 2
Using the family group record, fill out the information for your own immediate family first. You will then make a family group record for your father and/or your mother that will include their parents and siblings. Then you create one chart for each grandparent, and so on. Keep creating these charts until you run out of information or have created one for two of your four grandparents, whichever comes first.
Key points to follow:
You'll find that your family group records will have some blank spaces on them, too. That's just fine. As you learn more about each ancestor, his or her family will come into focus.
There are genealogical software programs that can help you keep track of all of your charts, as well as research notes and other information. But for now, a notebook and the charts you can download from this page should be enough to get you started.
EXPLORE ONLINE RESOURCES
Your pedigree chart and family group records are like the magnifying glass a detective carries with him. They will help you discover more clues to your family story. Armed with these tools, you're ready to further explore the world of records.
Let's take a look at what might be available online to answer your family history questions.
This is the online Social Security Death Index that Megan Smolenyak used in the television episode. Give it a try to see what kind of information you might find on one of your ancestors!
This site is full of goodies - from databases to how-to information. Just take a look.
This site offers free genealogical software that you can download, if you think you're ready for the whole enchilada!
Submit your pedigree or see if someone else has already submitted a pedigree on your family at the world family tree site housed by Family Tree Maker.
Write a brief paragraph about the way computers and the Internet have affected family history hunting.
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED AND . . .
Technology has given family history detectives amazing tools to help their research progress; they can share, store, and obtain information faster than ever before.
. . . WHAT'S NEXT?
Alright, so online sources can help you know where to look for records, but do you know which record will best answer your research question? The following lessons will explore various types of records; why they were created and how they can help you in your search for the missing pieces of your family's history.
Query: To pose a question. In genealogical terms, this refers to online and print services that allow you to post questions such as "Looking for information on Ancestor X of (county, state) during (year). Can you help?"
Family Group Record: A form used to write information about parents and children of the same family.
Social Security Death Index: An online database of more than sixty million people; including their birth and death dates, social security number and place of death.