Pedigree Charts & Family Group Sheets
There will be only two main forms you will use in genealogical work. They may have different looks or formats but each has its own purpose.
The Pedigree Chart begins with you and shows your direct line (blood line) of parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. These may look like fan charts, or like trees with the names for leaves. They may be 8-1/2" x 11", 8-1/2" x 14" or may be on 20 foot lengths of wallpaper. No matter how they look or whether they are called pedigree charts, fan charts or tree charts, they are basically all the same. They show your direct line.
The Family Group Sheet documents the whole family. It shows the husband, wife and children. Family group sheets also appear in numerous sizes and shapes but their function remains the same-that is to record one family group.
Note: Copies of these forms are available by contacting the Iron Range Research Center.
Using the Pedigree Chart
The typical pedigree chart (or ancestor chart) is arranged like this:
Your full name (use your full maiden name if you are female)
Your father's full name
Your mother's full maiden name
With the exception of person #1 which can be male or female, all the even numbers will be men, and all the odd numbers will be women.
Your grandfather (father's father)
Your grandmother (father's mother)
Your grandfather (mother's father)
Your grandmother (mother's mother)
Print whatever information you know about each person. Go back further if you can remembering that a father's number is twice the number of his son.
Because there is only room on this chart for five generations, it will be necessary to take each name in the far right column and put it as #1 on another pedigree chart.
Using the Family Group Sheet
The family group sheet is used to make a complete record of one couple. It is for the husband, wife, and the children they had together. Other marriages and other children go on another sheet. Make out the Family Groups Sheets as follows:
Husband: Your husband (or yourself, if you are male).
Wife: Your wife (yourself, if you are female).
Children: Those belonging to you and your spouse together.
Husband: Your grandfather (father's father).
Wife: Your grandmother (father's mother).
Children: Your father and his brothers and sisters.
Husband: Your grandfather (mother's father).
Wife: Your grandmother (mother's mother).
Children: Your mother and her brothers and sisters.
Fill out a family group sheet for each couple on your pedigree chart. Also, make out sheets for your married children, your married brothers and sisters, your married aunts and uncles. While you are getting information on your family, you might as well gather it all.
Sources of Information
Document your sources of information on the back of the sheets writing specifically where you obtained the information. For example:
SOURCES OF INFORMATION
HUSBAND'S NAME: Write out the source.
WIFE'S NAME: Write out the source.
CHILD #1: Write out the source.
If you have only one source for the entire sheet write it beside each name. Do not use ditto marks. This will make it easier for you or anyone else to look at the sheet and the sources to tell exactly where the information was found.
After you have filled out your pedigree charts and family groups sheets as far as your current information will allow, you will find that there are many blanks left on your sheets. There will be many things you don't know or never knew about your relatives. The first place to look is in your own home to see what records you have i.e. death certificate, obituary , wedding announcement or scrapbook. Once you have recorded everything you can think of and look for in your home, it is time to talk to relatives. There are ways to interview them successfully:
Write a Biography of Each Relative
Make a chronological list of the events which happened to each relative.
Writing for Information
When you write to ask for information ask for something reasonable. By making the letter brief, neat and to the point, you will get more replies i.e., "Please send me a certified copy of the death certificate for my uncle, John Fred Smith who died Oct. 15, 1940 in Los Angeles."
Writing to Relatives
To get a specific answer ask a specific question!! Write a letter telling your relative that you are working on the family tree. Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Do not write a letter longer than one page. Include the explanation of what you are doing, how you are related to the addressee and what you desire to accomplish with this letter. Enclose the following forms with the letter:
At the top of the form is the word "From": Print the name and address of the person to whom you are sending it to for information. The form is for one husband and one wife. If a person has been married several times always ask about the current spouse first and the others later. Write the name of the husband and wife on the form and let the relative complete the remainder of the information.
This form asks for the children of the couple on the husband/wife form. Number the children starting with #1. Always allow
for more children than you may know of. Send extra forms if necessary. Do not fill in the names of the children-let the relative
fill in the names.
Note: Copies of these forms are available by contacting the Iron Range Research Center.
Writing to Businesses
You will received a lot of information through the mail if you know:
There are many organizations which have records available to the public:
When writing to a business or government agency do not send a SASE.
Local or Private Businesses such as mortuaries, libraries, and cemetery offices will vary on fees. Some will charge you and others may
not. Always send a check for at least $5.00.
State Agencies such as the Bureaus of Vital Statistics which keep birth and death records will have set fees but will vary on whether
you need to fill out a form.
Federal Agencies such as the National Archives will have set fees and set forms. They will send you a form to fill out along with the
These are the sources of some of the information you can write for and obtain through the mail.
Mortuaries: The death certificate and the obituary in the newspaper will name the mortuary. Write to the reference department at
the public library for that area and ask for the address of the mortuary.
Cemetery Offices: Write to the cemetery supervisor (Sexton) at the cemetery to ask for:
A copy of the inscription on the tombstone.
The names of other people buried in that plot.
Local Churches: The records in local churches will depend on the denomination. Catholics keep one kind of record. Mormons keep
Writing to Agencies
Courthouses: Send the request to the appropriate office with the proper amount of money enclosed (check) and you will usually receive the information.
Federal Agencies: Federal agencies such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs house many records. In some cases, earlier records of federal
agencies have been deposited with the National Archives or one of its eleven branches.
Bureaus of Vital Statistics: In your letter to the Bureau of Vital Statistics be specific about the birth, marriage or death certificate.
The U.S. Government Printing Office publishes a booklet entitled "Where to Write for Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death Records," which provides the addresses, time period the records cover and fees.
Writing to Libraries
Local Libraries: The local libraries in the area where your relatives lived are acquiring genealogical collections. They will provide
you with some quick reference work through city and telephone directories.
State Archives: State Archives personnel may do a limited amount of research for you. Ask for a list of their publications they sell.
National Archives: The National Archives, Washington, DC 20408 published a guide on its holdings and numerous pamphlets about
specific types of records.
Family History Centers: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has the largest genealogical library in the world. These
records may be used at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City at no charge. Microfilm may be borrowed for a small fee
through one of the worldwide Family History Centers. They accept inquiries and will do limited searches free of charge.
Write to the following address to find the Family History Center nearest you:
Family History Department
35 North West Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84150
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Each time you write a genealogical letter record it on the "Record of Letters Written" form. Record the date the letter was mailed, name and address of addressee, subject and date the letter was answered.
Note: Copies of this form is available by contacting the Iron Range Research