Sunday, November 28, 2010

Basic Recommendations for Genealogy Enthusiasts

Author Tammy Tipler-Priolo copyright 2006
This column was created to help people, interested in genealogy, learn about the ins and outs of genealogical research; thus, they can choose the right track and be on their way to a successful ancestor hunt; I will also include inspirational and motivational articles to keep you from being discouraged along the way.

Let us begin with first things first. I recommend that you start with yourself and work backwards; you might be thinking at this point why? Well if you start with yourself first, you will have a less likely chance of getting lost and completely off track with your family history, not a nice place to be thirty years from now and several dollars later.

To help you manage all this information on yourself and ultimately your ancestors, I recommend starting with a pedigree chart first. Not familiar with a pedigree chart, just type in Pedigree Chart in your search engine and you will find loads of examples of one. Another name for a pedigree chart is a family tree chart.

A pedigree chart is a chart that is either vertical or horizontal. Both start with person number one, which would be yourself. Next, it directs you to person number two, which would be your father and person number three would be your mother (note when asked for female names always put their maiden name down). Thus, a pattern begins to show up. Person number four would be your paternal grandfather and person number five would be your paternal grandmother, while person number six and seven would be your maternal grandfather & grandmother respectively.

At this point, don’t worry that you are not able to fill the chart completely in. The point of the chart is to help you figure out what is still missing and to then create a research plan. What is important, is filling out the chart with your information first. Fill in your complete name. Make a note of any nicknames as well. Fill in all the information regarding specific events such as date of events (birth, christening, marriage) & places of events. Do this for your father, mother, grandparents and great grandparents until you have the chart filled out with all the information you personally know about you and your ancestors. (Note when writing out dates it is recommended to start with the day as a number, then the month written out and then full year (i.e. 19 Oct 1919 so a distinction can be made between the numbers).

Next check off each record you already have. Start with the most recent event in your life and work backwards. Perhaps you are already married, then you would want to have your full marriage certificate that states your name, who you married, where you were married, when you were married and who your parents were. Next, you would want to locate your christening record or full birth record that states your name, when & where you were christened/born and the names of your parents. Once these links with your parents are located you can begin with either parent and search for their records starting with their death record if they have passed on or their marriage record if they were married, followed by their christening/birth record, so a link can be created to their parents.

Ah…are you starting to see a pattern? Yes the goal of working with a pedigree chart and starting with yourself and working backwards is to take stock of what records you already have and what still needs to be located in order to create those links from one generation to the next without ending up in the wrong family lines. You want to use your pedigree chart as a map to aid you in developing a sound, well thought out research plan. You want to collect as many records as possible to help prove the correct links from generation to generation; thus, setting a goal of trying to locate three records to prove one link if possible.

I have presented you with a methodical plan of action to begin tracking down your ancestors. These recommendations will come in handy when you must approach a library, records office, archives or professional genealogist. There is no guarantee of finding specific records, but if you follow my recommendations, you will be on your way to a success search.


Author Tammy Lynn Tipler-Priolo copyright 24 September 2010

Last night my husband and I went to our daughter’s school to meet some of her new teachers. We had met two of them last year and appreciate the hours of work they put into teaching the students their required curriculum. Her geography/history teacher was a little concerned with the geography he was required to teach this year, as it was apparently really dry stuff like statistics, economics and migration patterns. Subjects we as students several years ago would have taken in Second Year University. Being a genealogist, I am always trying to find ways to introduce the wonderful family passion of mine into other’s lives. I suggested to the teacher that he relate the migration patterns section to the migration patterns of their ancestors. He thought this was a wonderful idea and could see the connection to the history he would eventually also teach.

Genealogy is a personal thing, and when reaching students it is easier to relate to something they know about, and that would be their families for the most part. Now I am not assuming that every student would know their family history, but with a little creativity, a teacher could have a student wanting to learn more, if a little genealogy was used along with the subject at hand. If a language course was taught, the students could learn to relate to their own ancestors who came over to Canada as immigrants and could not speak English or French. What was it like for these ancestors when they met up with other nationalities and could not speak to one another? My husband’s grandmother came over from Italy in the 1930s and could not speak a word of English. She was able to communicate with the other housewives in the community who did not speak Italy, by sharing recipes, vegetables from the garden, plenty of smiling and lots of laughter.

Math class could use a bit of genealogy to spice up a course that can be very dull and boring for some confused students. Why not measure the distance from Canada to an ancestor’s homeland or calculate how long it would take a passenger ship in the 1800’s to travel from an ancestor’s homeland to Canada? Science could include a bit about crop rotation and what crops and animals their ancestors had on the farms; one look at the 1871 census agricultural schedule will show all sorts of items farming ancestors had in their possession. Reading and writing could include the life of an ancestor. Gym class could include physical activities that our ancestors partook in so many years ago. Bocce, an Italian form of lawn bowling or lacrosse that was created by North American Natives could be introduced to students. Thus, genealogy would seem to have a place in our schools. The idea of students learning about their own family history and relating this personal knowledge to all their subjects seems a grand idea to me. Now with a little luck this article will spur on more teachers to plunge into the genealogy world. You never know what they might achieve with a pedigree chart in one hand and a required subject in the other.

Happy Hunting!!


Tammy Tipler-Priolo BASc, PLCGS
The Ancestor Investigator is also the Ancestor Whisperer!