Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pedigrees.... A quick lineage glance... And so much more...

As a ‘paper genealogist’ (one who prefers actual printed, tangible data), I feel as though I am part of a dying breed – and that may not be such a bad thing – as I constantly complain to anyone who listens about my massive clutter & genealogical disorganization!
In my defense, when I began genealogy 20 years ago – everything I did was handwritten, with photocopied forms filled in by hand – so I grew as a researcher, used to the tangible printed info. Of course, years ago, I graduated to a computer program and printed forms – but I still have binders of hard data …..
Which brings me to the discussion of pedigrees – and how they are used today and how I use mine – It goes without saying, I print mine out (as I must have something I can doodle on and make notes) and even though it creates more paper – I only have 4 generations per sheet – [Legacy scrunches down the last generation to include almost nothing if you use 5, so I use 4 – which is why my printed pedigree is over 60+ pages!]

Example of a plank pedigree
see their website for other forms
Now here comes my dirty little secret – some of it is very outdated – and when I say outdated, I mean there are pages with that date to 2 Dec 1998! WOW- is that embarrassing!! (so much so, I’m tempted to delete this part, and might yet…) But I do promise you, "updating pedigree" is on my ‘to do’ list! And along with updating, I’m trying to identify all of my ‘sources’ and obtain as many hardcopies as I can for these ancestors.
It’s further embarrassing to have 60+ pages of a pedigree and realize that you haven’t documented as well as you should have… Many of my lines are early New England stock, some from the early 1600’s – so there are easily accessible records out there – and I’ve been working on relocating these resources and documenting them better (what fun!)….
And not only do I like to fill in the vital statistic data for these pedigree folks, but I also like to do a little research on them and see what things they were up to... (usually no good, in my family!) – and these historical tidbits not only add some meat to the bones of the family – they make it easier to see these pedigree names as real people – something I forget on occasion.
My 'Pedigree binder'... Always a work in progress
So in today’s world of the internet, weekend warrior genealogists, and the merging of 10 undocumented family trees into your own (all in one fell swoop, taking you right back to Adam & Eve without a lick of research), do researchers still have tangible records and more importantly, tangible pedigrees?
Do they actively document (or attempt at least) the data they find?
Are these never ending online trees being examined closely or are they taken as gospel?
Are researchers actively searching to add substance to the lives of these people, or am I alone on this pedigree quest?
So take a looksee at your own pedigree... Re-examine some brickwalls... 'Google' early ancestors to see what might be out there about them.... Connect with other researchers... Obtain some documentation....
So how do you use your pedigree (if you do)? Are you an active documenter for those pre1800 ancestors?
As always, I’m interested in what others do (or don’t do), if you have great ideas or fellow dilemmas. Share your hints or suggestions...  Now, if you'll excuse me.... I have some pedigree updating to do...


  1. I use the pedigree just to look at my direct line. I mainly use the Family Group Sheet so I can see the family unit. It really comes in handy since I'm also doing a lot of research of the collateral lines to see if I can get more information on my direct line.

    I just started doing my research in 2010. I got a descendant report from my Dad that his Aunt did back in 1993 of their line. I have the printed source page and notes page, but no actual documentation. So I'm going back and trying to documents the entire thing myself.

    I received the same on one of my mom's lines, but with no source or note page. Just the names,dates and locations. So I'm trying to document that one also. I'm doing the same with her paternal line too. I have a copy of a descendant report that was prepared in 1919 by a Swiss genealogist. But no source/note information. Just names and dates.

    Then last but not least, I have no information on my dad's maternal line other than some names and a few dates. So that one I'm doing strictly from scratch and learning as I go.

    1. Thanks, Betsy! I think you will be very happy, down the line, that you are making good documentation notes! It sure saves time in the long... wish I had been more diligent about that myself.