Recording your Information (part 1)

Now that you have collected and organised your documents; certificates; photo’s etc. And also sifted through the information that you have into your notebooks, we need to record the information in a fashion that will be easy to see where you are at in tracing your family history. We do this in several ways, either manually on paper or through a computer program.

Today I would like to look at how to do it manually on paper. There are basically 2 forms we use to record our information on.  Initially you may want to use what is termed a pedigree chart.  Your pedigree chart is to put it simply, Your Family Tree, on this chart is displayed your direct line of ancestors.  Starting with yourself, then your parents, grandparents, great grandparents etc

Pedigree Charts

Pedigree charts can take many forms. Displayed below is what is known as  a 4 generation chart,( which means of course that only 4 generations are displayed on the page).

4 Generation Pedigree chart

You will note that on this page only important basic information is included.  Such as birth/ christening dates. And the place or location where the event occoured.  the same for marriage and death information.

When starting out you always place yourself in position 1.  you will notice that there is a position to list the spouse of Number 1 but no details.  This is because the spouse of number 1 will have their own chart, where they will be listed as number 1. Now this chart follows the Paternal, Maternal lines of number 1.  The Father of number 1 is listed in position 2, and the mother is at position 3, and so on you go for each generation.

When you have gone back 4 generations you will need to start a new pedigree chart as you progress back through the generations.  you will notice that after no 8 is filled in there is a little notation at the side that says ” Cont on chart no_”.  And at the top of the page there is another line that says,  ” No 1 on this chart is the same as No_ on chart No_”.  Using this notation will enable you to keep track of whose parents are whose.  For example if this chart was chart no 1 and we had gone back to no 8 on this chart and we had the parents of no 8 we would fill in the notation beside no 8 to read, “Cont on chart 2″  and at the top of chart 2 we would fill in the notation to  read ” No 1 on this chart is the same as No 8 on chart No 1.”  It is through this cross referencing that we  can keep track of whose who in your family tree, and where they fit in.  Also I should mention here the little box at the bottom of the page where the person compiling the information on this sheet can list their details. There is an important reason for this.  That reason is that if you are sharing this information with others they know how they can get in touch with you to confirm or query the information you have on your pedigree chart.

Family Group Sheets

In conjunction with the Pedigree chart there is the Family Group sheet.  It is this sheet where you can include more detailed information.

In this Family Group record there is room for more detailed information. Instead of just the brief synopsis of information as we find in the pedigree chart, here we find that each event has its own line. e.g. birth and christening dates are seperate.  At the top of the page we have the parents information, also space is made for the parent’s parents. (again we have cross-referencing taking place).

Then is listed the children of the family and space for their birth and death information, and also the names of their spouses, dates of marriage and places that the event occoured. Even though there is only space for 3 children there is often room for more children,(next page). Some families can be quite large.  Often you will find that as you go back through the generations there will be large families and this was often because of the high infant mortality rate.

One other thing I would like to bring your attention to on this family group sheet is that on the right hand side you will see a little box marked, “See “Other marriages” This can be handy if the individuals in the family were married more than once, which happens often.

Notes, Sources & “Other Marriages

Notes, Sources & “Other Marriages”

Lastly we have a page where you can record any notes you may have on the persons that you have listed in the family group sheet.  these notes may be information on where they lived, their occupation, and anything that you feel gives you more insight makes your ancestor more alive to you and or your descendants. Now the top section of this page is reserved for listing the “Other marriages” of the family members.

Lastly and a very important part of researching your family history is listing the sources of where you obtained the information you have on your family members. For example you obtained burial information from an obituary notice in a newspaper clipping that you found when you were collecting documents, clippings, certificates and other information that you had lieing around your home.  Then in listing the source for this information you would list it as burial info for (family member); obituary notice (newspaper if known) publishing date & page number where the notice was ( if known of course) If the newspaper is not known you may want to list it as a document held by family member. listing who the family member is who has the document. More on listing sources in a later post.


Surprizing Finds

My GGuncle, Elder brother of my GGgrandmother, Eliza Matilda Wooller/Mckenzie

While doing a search on the internet to find more information about my GGgrandfather, George Kenneth Mckenzie.

I came across this photo of John Wooller, my GGuncle.  John Wooller died at the ripe old age of 87yrs.  Unlike most of the family who died between 40 & 60 yrs of age.

John was the oldest child of Samuel Wooller & Charlotte Moulds.  The oldest of 7 children.

There is a strong family resemblence in his face and that of my father.

Where To Start With Your Family History

Over the years the most common question I have been asked by people just starting out in researching their family history is; “Where Do I Start”; “Who Do I Start With.”

And my answer is always the same. You start with yourself, simply because you know the most about yourself, then your wife and children, if you have any. And then your parents and siblings.  And then work on back through the generations, going as far back as you can.

Now the first thing to do is to get a piece of paper and sit down and write your date of birth, then the date you were christened, ( if you were christened that is), the date you were married,( again if you are married), and to whom you are married to or were married to.  One thing I almost forgot to mention is that for all these events you need to also include where the event occurred. And you need to identify it so that there is no confusion as to where the event occurred. It is not sufficient to just say I was born in the hospital, approx 56 yrs ago. A better and more informative way of identifying where the event occurred is to say,” I was born in Crown St Women’s Hospital in Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.”  So that last statement identified where the event occurred very precisely. This is very important when dealing with similar names in your family history as you go back, tracing your family’s history.

I can remember on one occasion I cam across a family where the mother seemed to have had children till a very late age. upon further research I was able to identify that the children belonged to 2 families. A Father and a Son both with the same name who both had wives with the same first name. The clue for this was in the dates or years of the births of their children.

So the next step is to collect and organise your photo’s, certificates, newspaper clippings and other memoribilla. One of the best and easiest ways of sorting out your documents, certificates, newspapr clipping etc.  Is to get a number of small cartons, about 3 or 4, approximately shoe box size.  And into each carton you put your documents, newpaper clippings etc into each of these cartons.  you maybe surprised as to what information you have.  About yourself, your family and maybe even some of your ancestors.

Each of these boxes represent a source of information about you and your family. Now I would like you to add one more box to those you have and in this box you should find and put any letters you may have from relatives or friends that may mention anything about you and or your ancestors.

Now that you have soorted out these sources of information into different catagories or types you need to process each collection and glean what information you can from each collection. A good idea may be to get yourself a number of small cheap notebooks that you can write information into. I would suggest that you have at least one notebook for each of your boxes.  That way you will find it easier to find specific information, instead of having to search through one big notebook for information.

Two things to remember when sorting and compiling the information you have put into your boxes. When you come to news and or  articles from newspapers and or magazines you need to make a note of where you obtained the article and when it was printed.and with photo’s you also need to identify who is in the photo, where it was taken, ( if possible), and the date or year that it was taken. I will explain the reason why in a later post.

Now that you have gathered your information and sorted it out. You will need to record and organise it. so that you can see what further research you need to do.  I will talk about that in my next post