Family Tree

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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Researching your family tree can be a great learning experience. It can be fun and rewarding. Everyone deserves to know their roots and where they came from. Knowing your past can help you redefine who you are and help you know more about why your parents are the way they are. When making your family tree, there are a few tips to help you stay on task. The first thing to remember when making a family tree is that family trees cannot be accomplished overnight. It can take a long time, in most cases, to gather information needed to fill in several generations. Don't expect immediate success. Never assume anything. Just because the family legend says something does not make it true.

When Doing research, never do straight-line research--where you trace only the direct line without tracing the ancestor's siblings. Much can be learned from brothers and sisters, especially when the direct line's parent's information is lacking.

One example of this would be if a man's records are lost due to fire, his brother's records may be available elsewhere. But don't forget you must never skip generations. Start with yourself and go backwards. Valuable information can be gained by checking everyone down the line.

When recording your research information, be sure to keep track of your sources and to also keep track of which relatives you have corresponded with. Ask the relatives facts but write down their stories and anecdotes too because this helps to fill out your family history and might give you leads on to where to look next. Be sure to ask relatives questions such as where your ancestors lived, religion, status in society, also if they owned property or fought in a war. Many of the answers that your relatives give can be verified by...

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