Genealogy is the study of family history. It includes details about how people are descended from an ancestor, how people are related to each other, where families are from, how they may have traveled from country to country, where they lived, what kind of work they did, and what sorts of lives they led. A family tree is a visual representation of a family’s lines of descent. Some family trees include photos and other vital information. Researching a family’s genealogy and making a family tree is a great way for kids and adults to learn more about who they are. It also brings history to life in a new way, making it possible to see how historical events impacted one family: the researcher’s own. Genealogy is also a great way to sharpen research skills.
There are many different ways to build a family tree. Options include an ancestor chart and a kinship diagram.
A family tree can get very complicated! There are other types of ways to display information about who is related to who that can help when researching for more information about an ancestor.
When tracing ancestors, it’s important to start by listing out what is already known, like the names and birthplaces of grandparents.
One particularly tricky area when studying family relationships is understanding how all the different cousins fit together in the family.
A family tree is a way to visually show the relationships between various family members.
The easiest way to discover the past is by recording information about the family in the present day.
Photos are full of valuable information. The type of photo, what’s in the background, the clothes people are wearing, and any handwritten caption on the back all provide an opportunity to learn more about the people that came before!
Families are the best sources for old photos, but other places to check include old newspaper databases and websites that host images of old yearbooks.
Good genealogists preserve the primary documents they find so that other family historians can see them in the future.
The United States government conducts a census every ten years.
Census data is confidential for 72 years after the census was recorded.
The 1950 census is the latest one available to researchers. It was released in 2022.
Researching the census gives information about where an ancestor lived, who they lived with, and who were their neighbors.
The census is available to search for free on various websites.
Most researchers search the census databases using the names of their family members, but searching by address can help them find new information.
One difficulty faced by all family historians, no matter what their age, is deciphering handwriting on old documents!
Tricks to understanding old handwriting include enlarging the document and reading through the whole thing to understand how the writer formed various letters.
Cemeteries are full of information about ancestors!
A cemetery survey is a like a census for everyone buried in a graveyard. Some older ones are available as books in local libraries, but now many websites have them available as well.
One of the largest online databases of cemetery surveys has information about cemeteries and the people buried inside.
The National Archives hosts a page with many different templates for kids to build their own family trees. Templates include a photo family tree and a tree for blended families.
One big part of genealogy is organizing information. These forms help track biographical information, cemetery information, and other family data.
The first step in building a family tree is organizing the information already on hand.
Family members are a wonderful source of information. Knowing what questions to ask and how to take an oral history will help
kid genealogists make sure they get all the good stories their family members have to share!
It’s important to interview family members, but it’s also important to remember the information gathered in interviews is just a starting point. Anything learned in an interview should be researched to see if it’s correct.
Genealogy for Kids (PDF)
Genealogy is the study of a family’s history. It often involves talking to family members and doing research through primary source documents like the census.
Family reunions are a great time to conduct interviews. It’s also a great place to both collect and share information about the family’s history.
One way to display the family photographs and documents gathered while doing a family tree is to make a digital family museum!
It’s important to understand how family relationships work before trying to record them on any type of family tree.
More about the author:
Kim Hart, mother and passionate about being active and healthy, is a content developer here at AAAStateofPlay.com. Growing up in Indianapolis, Kim has always been dedicated to staying healthy and being active especially after having two children. With the obesity epidemic on the rise, Kim makes a conscious effort to involve her children in activities like baseball, hiking, and enrolling them in camp during the summer. At times Kim volunteers at the camp helping out with the daily activities for all the kids. In her spare time she offers personal training for those looking to help improve their health goals.
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