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Family tree or pedigree

When we create a pedigree chart, we research all our ancestors. No matter whether paternal or maternal line. However, we do not research siblings and do not investigate their fate. Our reference point is our ancestors and therefore we move through history selectively. We can calculate the number of ancestors in advance because the number doubles with each generation.

A family tree deals with the history of the family and is therefore often called a family tree. We research the history of the family and its members. We find out how many times someone has been married and how many children have been born. However, we are not interested in people who got married into the family.

Read more Why does everyone need a family tree

How to start research?

First you should create a plan and define your goals. Do you want a pedigree or family tree?

Once we have decided on a family tree, we must decide on the appropriate family. The project is then named accordingly, like the family tree of the Nowak family.

The second step is to determine what to do with the data. Save it on the computer or rather on paper.

The beginning

The search does not start somewhere, but at home.

First, we interview our parents and grandparents. We collect the following data: first name, surname, date and place of birth, marriage dates, date of death, place of death, etc. For women, it is important to ask for the surname at birth.

Everyone must decide for themselves whether we collect data about living relatives.

We can write down subjective data and stories.

Congratulations! You have just become a genealogist – a person who searches for their ancestors.

The cemetery

A visit to the cemetery often pays off. Individuals are listed on the tombstones with their dates of birth and death.

The Internet

The Internet is like a gold medal – it has two sides.

Positive: the search is easy, accessible anytime and anywhere, a lot of data, etc.

Cons: the data is not verified, many sites are not free, etc.

Many websites offer already created family trees. But be beware, these are not professionally prepared family trees, they are based on data uploaded by laypeople. The search engines work on the principal 1=1. We enter a name into the search engine and get all hits with the same name. It is not checked whether there are several people with the same name. This then has serious consequences; incorrect data is included in our family tree.

Example of a family tree with many errors

Back to the past

Now the real research begins, we start searching for the documents.

The rule applies: a search is made where the event took place.


We have to look for the baptismal certificate in the parish where the person was baptized, e.g. B. in London.

We have to look for the death certificate where the person died, e.g. in New York.

The archive

Older documents are no longer kept in the church but in the archive. In most countries, the church records are kept in the diocesan archives.

Read more about church records here

The documents are important

I am often asked: do we need documents, such as B. Baptismal Certificates, Marriage Certificates, etc. YES, WE NEED DOCUMENTS!

Would you buy a car without papers? Of course not.

No matter when and where you got the data, always ask for documents. It happens many times, that I have to check data from the Internet and the search in the archive is unsuccessful because the data are incorrect.

Display family tree as a tree

There are numerous programs that can be used to display a family tree. The good ones charge a fee, but there are also free programs.

Again, be careful. There are programs that store your data externally on the Internet. So, the question arises, is the data safe there, or will it be sold on to other providers? My advice: don’t publish any data.

We created here a list of genealogy software for you.

DNA test

There are now DNA tests that promise to determine our origin based on our DNA.

Read more about DNA Tests