Southern California Genealogical Society
SCGS RESEARCH ASSISTANCE - Articles

Beginning Genealogy - Part 1.
By Pat Parish

Genealogy is much like journalism. You need to know who, what, where, when, why and how. The who is the name of your ancestors; the what is the events in their lives; the where is the location these events took place; the when is the date each event took place; the why is the reason an event took place and the how is by what type of document or by which method the event was recorded.

Get your self a large notebook and a small tape recorder. You’ll be taking down lots of notes. And do take notes even if you make recordings. The simple act of writing something down can help you remember it and it can stimulate you to think of other questions.

Since genealogy and journalism deal in facts, you need to collect as many facts as you can from each member of your family. Start by writing down everything you know about yourself. Where and when were you born? Where and when were you married? Did you live in several different locations? Where were they and when did you move? What schools did you go to? Now, do the same for your parents and siblings. Then write down as much as your know about your grandparents and aunts and uncles.

Once you have written down everything you think you know or can remember, start interviewing each and every member of your family. Ask them to remember the same events and see if they can add to your memories and fill in some of the blanks. You should try to interview each one separately and in groups with others. Separately, someone may tell you of an event they may not have spoken about in front of another person, and together, they may jog each other’s memories about things they may not have remembered on their own.

Fill out a pedigree chart and as many family group sheets as you can with the information you have. You can always add more family group sheets in the future as your information increases.

Your pedigree chart is your direct blood ancestry. It contains the basic answerers to the journalist’s questions – a name, and the birth, marriage and death information for that person. It starts with you and works backwards in time to your parents, then grandparents, then great grandparents and so on.

Start with you on line 1. Put your father on line 2 and your mother on line 3 with their corresponding information directly below their name. The like for each person’s name forks to the right – going up and going down. The line going up is for that person’s father and the line going down if for that person’s mother.

Remember a few rules for filling in your genealogical information.

  1. Women’s names are always written using their maiden name. If you don’t know it, leave it blank.
  2. All surnames (last names) are written in CAPTIAL LETTERS.
  3. Dates are written date, month, year (26 MAR 1854). Always use the whole 4-digit year to keep things straight.
  4. Places are written as city or town, county, state, country if outside the USA ( Pasadena, Los Angeles, CA).
  5. Write in pencil, as you will probably be changing things along the way.

A family group sheet contains the information on one married couple. At the top will be the husband and wife with their b, m, and d info as well as parent’s names and maybe occupation, church affiliation and military info. Below that are spaces for the children of that couple with the b, m, and d info on each one. Try to put them in the order of birth as best as you can. Make a separate family group sheet for each married couple as you learn of their information. If a person was married more than once and had children with each spouse, there should be a separate family group sheet for each marriage.

 

 


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