This is a workshop designed for those who are just starting out. The outline is based on my own experience. As time passes I will fill out the outline. But for now you get the bare bones.

The workshop is given on a Saturday and runs 6 hours
The workshop also includes about a dozen exercises and demos that familiarize the attendees with some of the principles and practices of working with acquired data. A brief description of the exercises is given at the end.

There are a number of appendices handed out as well (not included at this time).


* Do any of you have - CHILDREN? PARENTS?
* Did you or you parents take courses on how to raise children?
* If not, where did you get your knowledge of what to do?
* Did you raise your children as you were raised?
* Where did your family traditions come from?

The answers to the last questions may come from a study of your ancestry, commonly known as "finding your roots", or studying your "family tree", or GENEALOGY.


* History always an interesting subject.
* Got a rudimentary family tree from an uncle.
* After I had my own children, always looking for unique gifts for them. A knowledge of who they are would be as personal as one could get.

The remainder of the workshop is be devoted to how one goes about finding one's ancestors with illustrations from my own experience.

GENEALOGY - the art or science of tracing and recording the family relationships of people.

Art - it is concerned with human beings within an historical context;
Science - it proceeds along lines of hypothesis, deductive reasoning, and conclusion.


3.1 Full Name

3.2 Dates and Places of
* Birth
* Baptism
* Marriage
* Divorce
* Death (Cause)
* Burial
* Moves (Emigration/Immigration)

3.3 Names of
* Parents
* Siblings
* Spouse(s)
* Children
* Grand Parents/Children, etc

3.4 Occupation

3.5 Anything Else of Interest that may tell us what sort of people they are/were.


Purists claim that in order to have confirmation of identity, one must have three independent sources of information. That is not always possible, so one must do the best with what one can get.

4.1 Family - Get as much information from people while they are still with us and still have full use of their memory.

4.2 Family Documents - e.g. Bibles, prayer books, letters, photos, books.

4.3 Church Records -
* Baptism Certificates
* Marriage Certificates
* Burial Records

4.4 Cemetery Records - Where specific head stones may be found. Headstone dates may be in error and reflect the assumed age, or be rounded, especially for very old people.

4.5 Newspapers -
* Birth announcements
* Wedding announcements
* Obituaries
* Newsmakers

4.6 Provincial Records - Need exact information to get
* Birth Certificates
* Marriage Certificates
* Death Certificates
* Land Transfer Documents
* Wills
* Census before confederation (bef 1867)

4.7 Federal Records - National Archives/Library in Ottawa; many documents available on microfilm. The service is FREE!
* Federal Census 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901
* Some Provincial Records, e.g census before 1867
* Some Church Records
* Passenger lists to about WW I
* Newspapers
* City/Provincial directories
* Lots and lots of other records (letters, reports)

4.8 Military Records - Some restrictions apply. The individual must have been deceased for a specified period and you may have to provide proof of this fact, especially if you are not a direct relative.

4.9 Genealogy Societies - e.g. Provincial and City
* Help from others on how to ...
* Help searching in that locale
* Cemetery Headstone Listings
* Library of local publications
* Listings of names (and addresses) of others and their families of interest.

4.10 Historical Societies. Good for local information.

4.11 Libraries

4.12 Others Interested in YOUR Family -
* May have limited information
* May have extensive information
* May have written a book
* May have computerized records

4.13 Mormon (Later Day Saints) Church - A condition of membership is to know your ancestors. Their records are consolidated in Salt Lake City but reading rooms abound and details are available on microfilm. They have scoured the world for civic and church records. Very good for the UK. Specific microfilms can be ordered from Salt Lake City. There is a nominal charge to cover postage and handling.
Some of the following may be kept at the local Family History room, which is open most evenings.
* Microfilm
* Microfiche
* International Genealogical Index (IGI) on CD-ROM
Their service is free. You may have to book time on their reading machines.

4.14 City Directories - Tells who lived where and when; may give occupations.

4.15 Phone Books - may be useful for uncommon names.

4.16 Books - The "How To ..." books may have limited information on people of interest to you, however they point the way to other sources of information.
Local Histories - These abound and may or may not have much information on individuals. The older ones tend not to be indexed.
Printed Genealogies - some are available for sale at the time of publication.

4.17 Professional Researchers - may be very expensive.

4.18 Trading information. Your currency is information. Amateur genealogists are usually willing to swap information for free, especially if you have something new for them. This information may be in a handwritten, photocopied, or printed format. Even more useful is computerized information.
Common courtesy dictates that you acknowledge, with thanks, all information received and that you seek prior permission to pass that information along to others.

4.19 Publicity - You may place an advertisement in a newspaper, genealogical magazine, or Internet Interest Group seeking information on XY (with known dates, places lived, occupation, etc.) and their relatives.

4.20 Internet - This is a wild frontier in constant change. If you can connect to the Internet, check out the following web site:
It provides over 22,000 links to other web sites, all having to do with genealogy.


5.1 Vocabulary - terms used in older wills and other documents may not match current practice. See APPENDIX 5.1 for a listing of selected abbreviations and definitions (to follow).
We accept "senior" and "junior" as referring to a father and son. However years ago, it could refer to any two men in one community who happened to have the same name.

5.2 Dates and the Calendar - Until 1582, the so-called Julian calendar was used. To bring the calendar into sync with the seasons, Pope Gregory then adopted the system we use today. However, Protestant countries such as England and some German states refused to accept a "Catholic" calendar. By 1752, the Julian calendar was 11 days behind the Gregorian calendar. In that year England decided to change over.

5.3 Handwriting - Most early documents were handwritten. Some letters were written (or even printed) in a manner different from today, e.g. the long S (used until 1810), which can be confused with F or P.

5.4 Names
* Family Name Spellings - May change if spelling not Anglo-Saxon origin and/or phonetic.
Personal Examples:
* Given Names - go by first or second name?
Johannes Brahms
Johann Sebastian BACH
James Christopher Frederick YOUNG
* Given Names - identical for two members of the same family after the untimely demise of the first; common with first born. Can be very confusing, especially until you know of the death of the first.

5.5 Place Names -
* May change
* Repeated in different provinces (e.g. New Glasgow, NS, PEI).

5.6 All Records - All records may be suspect. Church Records are probably the best, then civil. Headstones not always right, and census may be out +/- a year or many more
. Primary records (e.g. of marriage as found in the church where the event occurred) are preferred over secondary records (e.g. a printed county record) since there will be fewer opportunities for transcription errors.

5.7 Illegitimate Children - may be attributed to others, esp grandparents.

5.8 Incomplete Data - From all sources. Losses (esp fire) years ago may leave gaps.


6.1 Personal Handwritten Systems - above all, be systematic.

6.2 Computers are of great help. These may be
* general word processing (e.g. WordPerfect), data base (dBase, Paradox), or spreadsheet (e.g. Excel, Lotus 1,2,3, QuatroPro) programs;
* specialty genealogical programs (e.g. Family Roots, Brothers Keeper, Personal Ancestry File, Family Tree Maker).

6.3 Features of Genealogical Programs

* Additions, changes and deletions should be easy.
* Help prepare index,
* Automatically link Family relationships.
* Documentation of sources.
* Notes of miscellaneous information.
* Pedigree charts.
* Descendancy charts.
* Detect errors (e.g death before birth)
* Suggest identity among multiple records based on similar names and nearness of birth dates (eg John b 1834, Peter b 1835, and John Peter b 1833 may be the same fellow)
* Can merge records of individuals that appear more than once.
* Easy to distribute copies of information.
* Compatibility with other Genealogy Programs (GEDCOM)


7.1 Family Group Record - This is the record of an individual plus spouse, both sets of parents and all children. Appendix 7.1 gives a blank form.

7.2 Pedigree - all those who came before you. The number doubles every generation back; 1024 people if you go back 10 generations; 1 million for 20 generations. Since cousins married, this number can be reduced.
Appendix 7.2.A gives a blank form that covers four generations. For individuals on the right side (numbers 8-15), create a pedigree chart for each of them, with the new chart number entered in the space provided (at the end below the name).
For more generations, you need a bigger piece of paper. The expanding hemisphere form enables entry of many generations, although there isn't much space for data on the older folks.
Appendix 7.2.B illustrates a selected pedigree chart that shows the intermingling of several families.

7.3 Descendancy - all those who follow an individual. You can never keep up; all the young folks keep on having babies.
Four common formats are illustrated below. The first two are limited by the size of paper.

7.3.1 The first is simply called a Chart. An example is given in Appendix 7.3.1. It follows the direct lineage from Andreas JUNG to Scott, Becky and Stacey YOUNG; each line gives the all the siblings of that generation.

7.3.2 A novel method of presentation is the circular chart, illustrated in Appendix 7.3.2.

7.3.3 BURKE Method - It is well suited to following the lineage to heads of families. An example of a slightly modified Burke Method is illustrated in APPENDIX 7.3.3.
The progenitor is not given any number. Each child at each subsequent generation is given a number corresponding to the birth order. The number is followed by a letter that represents the generation level following the progenitor. Each generation is indented to the right of the one before it. This method is useful for following the lines of both males and females.

7.3.4 NEW ENGLAND Method - Whenever a child had a family that is traced further, this method indicates the fact by sequential numbers in the left hand margin. Each family group is headed by the individual with his/her generation number and ancestry to the progenitor.


Try to get a picture of
* an individual - from multiple sources of information
* life in an era


1. Write your own obituary. They are asked to this "cold" before I tell them anything.

2. Using supplied 1871, 1881, 1891, and 1901 census information for my gggrandfather, ggrandfather, and grandfather and their families (YOUNG family), determine (estimate where necessary) birth, marriage, and death dates. This also develops the skill to be skeptical, especially since reported ages don't always advance by 10 years every decade).

3. Using a randomly supplied page from the local paper's obit page, look for the best/worst (from a genealogical point of view) obits. Now rewrite your own obit. What did you change?

4. I show a copy of my own birth certificate. They try to find the five errors in it (one of my names is missing, both my parents are listed as being of Scotch descent - should have been German, but that was "politically incorrect" in 1940 and changed by the registrar, and would have been Scottish, not the drink, if correct).

5. Start to lay out their own pedigree chart using the supplied blank form.

6. Start their own family group record, using a supplied blank form.

7. Using my family census records (2 above), set up descendency charts using the Burke and New England methods.

8. I show a limited pedigree chart for four of my families, that are intertwined. This is used to show what cousins are (e.g. third cousins once removed). I'm my own 5th cousin.

9. They listen to the song "I'm My Own Grandpa" and after being given the words they try to figure if that is true. Finally, they sing it and the workshop is over.

There are also demonstrations of my PAF data base (how to enter, change and search for data) and the Halifax Chronicle Obit data base.

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