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Genealogy has become one of the nation's most popular hobbies. It isn't difficult to trace your family tree. A few simple charts can get you started. Begin by filling out a pedigree chart. This is an outline of your ancestry in which you insert the names of parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. You record birth, marriage and death dates [where applicable] on each generation of ancestors beginning with you.

Interviewing older family members is the next step in tracing your family tree. Family Bibles, photographs, baptismal certificates, diaries and other heirlooms, may also provide clues to your family history. You then prepare a Family Group Sheet which provides space for more detailed information about the husband, wife and children of each generation. Once the charts are as complete as you can make them, the remaining blanks will tell you which branches of the family tree need more research.

As Genealogists uncover their family histories, they also uncover interesting facts about their ancestors. What part did they play in history? Who were their associates? What were their medical problems? These are just a few things that may be discovered.

Documenting the family tree in the United States is particularly interesting because Americans are unique. An American Pedigree may contain a combination of nationalities and races from anywhere around the world.

The few simple Charts needed to get started can be found in our "Introduction To Genealogy Package" available on our Store page.

The easiest way to keep track of your family history is to make sure that it has a designated place, whether that is a binder, a bin, or filing cabinet. The important thing is that all of your papers are together. Start by grouping by surname. This is the most basic information you can have about a family member, and provides a natural way to organize. If you have already done a bit of research, you may want to start a separate folder or binder for each surname.

Once you have your famly in order, take a look at what kind of information you have about each surname and how much. You may want to go one level deeper and organize by individual families, or you could choose to separate what you have by the type of information. Photos, certificates, and reports could each have a section with the surname. Look at the way you research and analyze how you usually try to find specific pieces of intormation to determine which way is best for you.

If you have a computer program in which to enter your information, you need to enter the information and note the source of where your information came from. Some organizers suggest you color code your families to make it easier to place the information in your filing cabinet. Orgnaization is very important, and saves time in the long run.

Information excerpted from a variety of written sources and workshops. Article by Gail Raser as published in the EGS news letter Vol XXXII, no. 3 May-June 2009.

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