Documenting Your Family Tree

The facts you need to document are the date and location of each person’s birth, marriage and death. You will ultimately want a source record or document to “back-up” or prove each fact. Don’t be surprised if the information on these source documents aren’t an exact match with your older relatives’ recollections.

Forms and charts: Pedigree Chart, Descendant Chart and Family Group Sheet

Several kinds of forms can help organize your facts and document your family tree, putting names, locations and dates in a chart format, making it easier to visualize a large amount of information.

The Pedigree or Ancestral Chart lists you and your direct ancestors: your parents, your grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great- grandparents, etc. including the facts listed above for each person, going back as many generations as possible.

Blank Pedigree Chart printed from Ancestry.com

Completed Pedigree Chart printed from Family Tree Maker software

A Descendant Chart lists you and your spouse (at the top of a page) and your children, their children, etc, (cascading below on the page), showing all your descendants and including the facts listed above.

Completed Descendant Chart printed from Family Tree Maker software

The Family Group Sheet shows a single family unit, parents and their children including the information listed above: names, birth, death and marriage information. It is also customary to list the parents’ mother’s and father’s names. Your family unit would include you and your spouse and all your children, again including the information listed above. You will also have a family group sheet for each of your married children. You will have a family group sheet for your parents listing you and all your siblings; another family group sheet for each of your siblings, listing their spouse and all their children, always including the facts listed above.

As you build Family Group Sheets for your ancestors, this information may prove critical when you examine census records to help find relatives of your ancestors. For example, your grandfather may be listed as a boarder on a census record of your great uncle’s family. The more names of older relatives you can learn will help you find clues to your direct descendants.

Blank Family Group Sheet printed from Ancestry.com

Completed Family Group Sheet printed from Family Tree Maker software

Family Tree Magazine offers a variety of free genealogy forms that you can download in either text or PDF format. See http://www.familytreemagazine.com/FREEFORMS

In addition free downloadable forms are also available from www.ancestry.com and www.ElectricScotland.com