Genealogy: A Guide to Creating Your
By James A. McKane - © 2008-9 ==================================================================================
HOW to Create Your Genealogy
The How needs to be broken down into several areas of discussion. The most important of these are: -
1) How to record the information gathered
1) How to record the information gathered
In today’s world, unless you don’t have a computer, you will want to obtain software to record your data. Using software will simplify and speed the recording of your information greatly. There are a large number of programs available to choose from. Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Maker, Ultimate Family Tree, The Master Genealogist and PAF – Personal Ancestral File are only a few.
Having been involved in genealogy for over 30 years, I find that Legacy Family Tree is the most user friendly and yet extremely powerful, flexible program on the market for your software dollar. A free copy of the Standard Version of Legacy Family Tree is available for you through a link on my website - McKane & Lyons Genealogy. Just click on the Legacy graphic!
When you wish to expand the functionality of Legacy, you may then register the program without losing any data. This will expand your Standard Version into the Deluxe Version. The current price is only $29.95!
Naturally, there will be many times that you need to record data manually on paper. Manual recording, which later will be transferred to your computerized database, can be done in many ways including a restaurant napkin! However, it is best to use standardized forms. Using forms assist in reminding you of questions to ask and keeping you from not missing or losing important data.
The two most important forms for this task are the Pedigree Form and the Family Group Sheet. These links allow you to obtain a downloadable and print-ready copy of each form. Left-Clicking on these links will open your pfd reader program showing a copy of the forms which then can be saved to your computer. If you instead, right-click, you can use the "save link/task as" command to save them directly.
The How of recording your genealogy also includes learning to record the information in generally accepted formats. If your fail to use the proper format for your data, it will lead to misinterpretations, errors and mass confusion of your data in the future!
Be extremely careful when recording dates! Does 10/11/2007 mean October 11, 2007 or November 10, 2007? Therefore you should record all dates in a format similar to 10 November 2007. Now, it is impossible to misunderstand!
When recording locations, it is always preferred to record as much detail as possible using the geographic details for the location that existed at the time of the event being recorded. An example would be when I was born at Peel Memorial Hospital in Brampton, Ontario. At that time, Brampton was a town within the Township of Chinguacousy in the County of Peel in the Province of Ontario in the Country of Canada. Therefore, the generally accepted format would be Brampton, Chinguacousy Twp., Peel Co., Ontario, Canada. However, today, the Regional Municipality of Peel has replaced the County of Peel. I was raised at lot 27, east half of concession 2 east of Huronontario Street, Chinguacousy Township. Currently, this location is known as 8349 King Street, Caledon, Ontario.
It is extremely important to record the source of your data. I only wish someone had pointed this out to me when I began my genealogy! As a result, I have a great deal of data which I have no way of tracking!
If your sources are not recorded, there is no way of validating the data at a later date. If a death date is recorded from a gravestone and later a different date is obtained from a family bible, each should be recorded with the source identified. One would be recorded as an “Alternate death date.”
2) How to find the information needed
The most appropriate place to begin is in your own immediate family records – birth, marriage and death certificates; family bibles; funeral programs; obituaries; wedding announcements; and family registers.
Then proceed to make a list of other relatives and the family information they may have. Visit, call, write, or e-mail these people! Be sure to ask specifically for the information you require. For example, "Do you know when Aunt Jane was born?" If you ask questions like, “Do you know anything about Aunt Jane?” the resulting information will usually be next to useless! Remember - be specific! Along with being specific about the information you want, be specific about their source for the information – is if from their memory, are they reading it from an obituary or………….?
Once you have worked your way through all of your living relatives, now you are ready to look for information in other records. Researching outside sources will be more completely discussed later.
3) How (and Why) to protect the Privacy of Living People
In order to have a complete and accurate genealogy/family tree, you must record personal information on living people.
Naturally, it is extremely important to protect everyone’s privacy. Releasing personal data will only assist the criminal element in stealing identities. There is little harm in releasing surnames. However, releasing first names, dates, places of birth and other personal information is strictly taboo………and in some judisdictions illegal! Remember, any information placed on the internet has a strong probability of remaining visible to the whole world forever!
Therefore, no personal data on any living person should ever be released publicly. The best way to ensure this is to “privatize” your data before uploading it to a website or sending it to anyone not immediately related to your family. I believe that every genealogy software program makes it possible to remove personal data on living people when you are creating reports or Gedcoms. Be sure to learn this process before it is too late!
4) How (and When) to Create Backup Copies of Your Data
Backup, backup, backup!! How many times have you heard of someone who lost all their records when their computer crashed?? It is imperative that you perform regular backups of all important data on your computer!
These backups must be done to a source, which is external to your computer. There is no point in having a backup copy of your data on your own computer if the computer fails!
Backup copies need to be made to another computer, a CD or DVD, or stored on a backup service on the internet. Personally, I keep a backup copy of my important data – email addresses, documents, genealogy files – on DVDs in my safety deposit box. If your house burns or is flooded, your backup copies kept at home will be lost!
You should also consider storing a complete copy of your important data with a friend or relative – any location other than your own home in case of a major disaster.
Another concern for all data, especially backup media, is data rot!! Ever wondered what that odd smell was around your computer data? Will its probably data rot! For more important information on data rot, click here!
You can never have too many friends nor too many backups of your computer data!!
5) How (Why and When) to Publish your Hard Work
This may sound odd to some readers. However, publishing your hard work is the most important aspect of genealogy. The Book of Matthew says, ”Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works….”
Many genealogists work for years on their genealogy and never publish their results. Therefore, all their work was in vain for no one ever gets to read it! Worse still, future generations will never find it!
Therefore, publish your work in as many formats and as many places as possible on a regular basis remembering to protect the privacy of living individuals and their information. You may wish to publish your data on the internet, on CDs as well as hard copy. You should always consider placing a copy of your genealogy with your local library, archives, museum and genealogical society.
Remember, you are recording history! It should be available for posterity!
......more pages will be added as time permits...........
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