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Beginning Your Genealogical Search

Start recording your direct ancestors on a Pedigree Chart: your parents, your parents' parents, your grandparents' parents, and so on. With this chart, you will be able to see at a glance the men and women you are descended from.

Make several copies of the blank Pedigree Chart. Enter all information carefully, legibly, and in pencil. As you continue your research and information gathering, you'll discover new facts that will make it necessary to revise your charts. You don't want to have to rewrite an entire page because a few facts have changed.

Before you start filling in the chart, mind this simple genealogical rule when writing down dates: Always put the day first, write out the month second, and the full year third. For example, 25 June 1847 and 30 January 1978.

This rule avoids confusion. The shorter method can lead to mistakes: Does 6/11/86 mean June 11, 1986, or November 6, 1886?

Begin filling in your chart. At the far left-hand comer, write your name next to Number 1. At "Born"' write your date of birth. Next to "Place," write where you were born, including the town and state or country: Albany, New York; London, England; Helena, Montana; or Lomza, Poland, for instance.

After you've filled in your personal information, do the same for your parents. Write your father's name next to Number 2, and next to Number 3 write your mother's first and maiden name (her last name before she was married). This numbering pattern — even numbers (2,4,6,8) for men and odd numbers (3,5,7,9) for women — is the way to keep all your genealogical records. (The only exception to the odd/even rule is for Number 1. Put yourself there whether you're male or female.) List every woman under her maiden (unmarried) name.

Under your parents' name, write their dates and place of birth.

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