Develop a plan. Think
about which lines to follow. You have two parents, four grandparents,
eight great-grandparents, and so on. You have to draw the lines somewhere.
You can use your time better if you develop a plan to guide you.
There are in fact three commonly
Some people aim to produce a "Family
Tree" - showing their male-line ancestors (father, grandfather, greatgrandfather,
etc.) and the wives, brothers and sisters of these ancestors. (It is
of course possible to concentrate on female-line ancestors, but the
types of records that were kept, and the common practice whereby a wife
took her husband's surname at marriage, can make this difficult.)
Others try to produce what is
sometimes termed an "Extended Family Tree". Such a tree shows all the
collateral branches of a family, i.e. all the descendants (with their
spouses) of some earliest known (typically, but not necessarily) male-line
ancestor. An extended family tree therefore will grow to include many
of your distant cousins.
Yet others attempt just to trace
as many as possible of their direct ancestors, through both male and
female lines, and so produce what is termed an "Ancestry Chart". (In
fact, even if you are only trying to trace your ancestry it is wise
to record any information you happen to obtain about your ancestors'
siblings, since such information can sometimes help to resolve tricky
questions of identification.)
However, whichever aim you set yourself,
it is best to concentrate on just a small part of the tree or chart, so
to speak, at any one time - you can always move to another part when you
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