Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Family Group Sheet: Your Secret Weapon

One of the least understood tools is The Family Group Sheet. You should generate two Family Group Sheets for the person whom you are researching. We will attempt to explain here why this is your secret weapon in breaking down "brick walls." The term "brick wall" is used to refer to what it feels like you have to pass through to uncover resources on you ancestor.

If you would like to print out a Family Group Sheet to refer to, CLICK HERE.
Fill out one Family Group Sheet with your ancestor as a child. Fill out another Family Group Sheet with you ancestor as a parent, if this applies. You should make your best attempt to fill out both sheets completely with spouses, siblings, parents, children, events, and places.

The number one mistake of many whom I have assisted is that they do not trace spouses, siblings, parents, and children. They run out of resources and get stuck in their research for many years. When they gain the courage to begin anew, I always request to have them produce a Pedigree Chart and Family Group Sheet. We will proceed to identify resources which may document the lives of the entire family. If you take the time to complete this step in the process that we are unveiling, you will be happy in the long run.

This is one of the least understood principles: You will have greater success if you will become familiar with the family as a whole. They lived together, interacted with one another,
and appear together in public documents that were generated in their lifetime. Many times when records are indexed, such as land records and wills, you will not find your ancestor's named indexed. The record may be indexed under the name of another relative. When you look at the actual document, you ancestor is named, along with other members of the family group. At times, you will need to search different documents indexed under other family member's names. You may end up searching for the previous generation using a sibling or cousin of your ancestor because your ancestor my not have sufficient resources.

The Family Group Sheet is also most beneficial because it helps you to narrow your search down to the specific time period and place(s) your ancestor lived. This becomes vital information when you discover that even though your ancestor never moved, county boundaries changed and you are having to search holdings in more than one district.

This all may sound confusing. Do not worry. We are building this bridge one step at a time. You can go your own pace here. Just get those Family Group Sheets filled out, and we will take it from there.