Last week I introduced you newbies to Pedigree Charts, which are the most commonly used charts in family research. As promised, this week I wanted to familiarize you with another commonly used worksheet: Family Group Sheets.
Where Pedigree Charts cover the absolute basics, birth, marriage, death and the people you descend directly from, Family Groups Sheets include much more information about each family unit. They are extremely useful tools for gathering and organizing more in depth information and give you a more complete look into each family’s structure.
Below is a great example of a Family Group Sheet.
Where do you begin on the Family Group Sheet? You begin with the same person you started the Pedigree Chart with…
Let’s focus first on your family (you, your siblings and your parents).
Looking at the Family Group Sheet the top section covers the “Husband” which in this case would be your father. You would list his full name: first, middle and last. For spelling variations you would record any nicknames he may have or any other variations of the spelling of his name.
- Spelling variations are actually extremely important to make note of. Did/does your father go by any nicknames? Have they changed their name? Do/did they go by their middle name rather than their first? I will cover the importance of this in a future blog-until then be sure to record all and any names the person in question goes by.
The next spots on the “Husband’s” section of the worksheet cover birth, marriage, death and burial information. Here you can record dates as well as places of each event. At the far right of this section there is a space for health or other miscellaneous info. Did your father suffer from any illnesses in his lifetime? What was his cause of death (if he has passed)? These are also important details to know.
- The importance of knowing health related issues will be covered in a future blog, until then be sure to ask and record the information.
The last half of the “Husband’s” section includes spaces to record other details about your father’s life, including occupation, other marriages, church affiliation, date and place of christening/baptism and military service. Fill in any relevant information.
Finally the “Husband’s” section comes to a close with a box to include a photo of your father and spaces to record the full names of his parents (your grandparents).
Done filling out Dad’s information?
Next you would move on to the “Wife’s” section, which would be your mother in this case. The only real difference when filling out this section would be your mother’s name. Be sure to record her full name using her maiden name, not married name. If she had been married before marrying your father or had been remarried following your father be sure to include those married names under Spelling Variations.
Otherwise you would continue through the “Wife’s” section filling in all the information you know about your mother.
Finished filling out Mom’s information?
Next you would move on to the “Children’s” section. This would be where you cover information concerning you and your siblings. Like the “Husband” and “Wife” sections, there is room to include a photo, birth, marriage, death and burial information, occupation, church, military and misc. information. The only difference is this section includes a spot to list the sex of each person as well as the number of children they have had and a section to list the name of their spouse(s).
Are you one of more than four children and have run out of room?
No need to worry. In this case, there is an extension worksheet that can be added covering just children. Below is an example of the extension sheet. As you can see there are no sections for “Husband” or “Wife” it strictly covers the children. Be sure to staple these two sheets together (Family Group Sheet with Extension Sheet for additional children).
If you have made your way through this worksheet and you are missing information on your parents and siblings one solution is reaching out to them! As I suggested with the Pedigree Chart, visit your family members and have them fill out their sections. If you can’t make a visit, call or email them for their information.
If your family members have passed, reaching out to them directly is obviously not an option. However, if your siblings are still living they may be able to provide more information about your parents (if your parents have passed). If your siblings have passed, reach out to any children or spouses they may have had to see if they can help with missing information.
If you have done the above and you are still missing information, make note of what is missing. Your next step will be figuring out what documents you need to obtain the information and determining where you will need to go to acquire those documents.
Finished. Now What?
Once you have finished your family group sheet where you are listed as a child, you can do another if you are married with children. This time you and your spouse will be listed as the “Husband” and “Wife” (obviously) and you would fill in the “Children’s” section with your children’s information.
Keep in mind you can turn up in several Family Group Sheets.
- In one, you will be listed as the child with your parents listed in Husband/Wife sections
- In the Second, you will be listed as the Husband or Wife
- In the Third, your spouse will be listed as a child (with their parents listed in the Husband/Wife sections) and you will be listed as their spouse.
Finished? Think again! *evil laugh*
For every family unit-you create a family group sheet. Once you have finished a family group sheet for you, your spouse and children… then finish one for your parents, you and your siblings you would start another for your parents.
This time, your parents become the “Children” and their parents (your grandparents) become the “Husband” and “Wife”. Once you have filled in all the information you know, you would move on to the next family unit.
Your grandparents would then become the “children” and their parents (your great grandparents) would become the “Husband” and “Wife” and so on.
As I suggested earlier, reach out to other family members for help (siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.). Go as far as you can with the information they are able to provide before turning to hunting for documents.
A lot of people get overwhelmed with genealogy… I can pretty much see you panicking now… “A family group sheet for EVERY family unit?!?!”
The worst thing you can do is get too far ahead of yourself. Focus on one family member at a time, one family unit at a time. As I said before with the Pedigree Charts, it’s all about breaking the process down into steps.
TIP: Don’t move on to the next person or family unit until you feel you have found all you can on the one you are currently working on.
Finally, keep in mind-these worksheets are here to help. They help give you direction, they help you form a more complete picture of your family and they help you organize.
So, embrace them-don’t hate them!!
Until next week… if you haven’t already-read my blog on Pedigree Charts, familiarize yourself with them as well as the Family Group Sheet and start bugging your family if you haven’t already!
Have fun and good luck!