Frequently Asked Questions

*Where do the regular green hanging files fit into the plan, what do I put in them?

Answer: Use the standard green files for Locality Files - files for counties, states and countries where you are doing research. Where were your ancestors from? That's the Localities you will be making files for. Put a county history in a Locality File, or a good map of the area. Things like that. I keep all the marriages for Cumberland Co., New Jersey in my Cumberland Co., NJ locality file.

*How do you organize the information when there is a second marriage in the family due to death or divorce?

Answer: Since each couple gets their own folder, you add a second folder for the second marriage. File the folder with the first marriage folder. I keep the marriages in the order they happened. The labels look like this:

JONES, Thomas b. 1891 m1
SMITH, Sarah b. 1895

JONES, Thomas b. 1891 m2
BROWN, Mary b. 1900

JONES, Thomas b. 1891 m3
DAY, Mrs. Ann Smith b. 1892 m2

*How is a pedigree chart organized?

Answer: A pedigree chart puts husbands and wives together as the parents of families. Pedigree charts have on them the last names or surnames of husbands and wives, as well as other information about each of them. Each generation, going back in time, adds new surnames as each new wife is added to the pedigree chart. It's interesting to realize that all new surnames on your pedigree chart are always introduced by a woman through her maiden name. The last name of the men are already on the pedigree chart from a man's son or daughter. If your families had patronymic surnames that changed every generation see the learning tip on patronymics.

*How can I know where surnames belong on my pedigree charts?

Answer: 1) In the front of your first box put a complete copy of your family pedigree charts in a hanging file folder. Also print an alphabetical index to the pedigree charts from your computer genealogy program. These two items, together, are your map and guide to your pedigree surnames.

2) In the front hanging file of each surname put two items: a) A copy of your first 5-generation pedigree chart, where you are person #1. Highlight all the people with that surname on the 5-generation chart. b) A copy of the pedigree charts where that surname appears in your pedigree lineage. This may be one chart, and it may be many charts, depending on how much you know about your ancestors with that surname. You can print pedigree charts from your computer genealogy program starting with the first person who has that surname on your pedigree chart.

REMEMBER: Your computer database has an "Alphabet Browse" or "Find Individual" feature. Enter all people into the computer database. Then you can find a person later by checking the "Alphabet Browse" or "Find Individual."

REMEMBER: Pedigree charts and ahnentafel charts have numbering systems. You could also include an ahnentafel chart of your ancestors in your file because those are the numbers to use on your pedigree charts to identify people, but more about that another time.

*How do I deal with each couple belonging to a certain surname?

Answer: Make a folder for each couple, within each surname. File each couple in a hanging file, in alphabetical order, behind the hanging file with the pedigree charts for the surname of the husband of that couple. The label on the file folder will have a colored stripe to remind you what color that family belongs to.

*What about color coding?

Answer: Color code your pedigree by the lineages of your four grandparents. All the folders of the ancestors of one grandparent will be marked with the same color:

Grandfather's lineage on your father's side: all folders marked BLUE
Grandmother's lineage on your father's side: all folders marked GREEN
Grandfather's lineage on your mother's side: all folders marked RED
Grandmother's lineage on your mother's side: all folders marked YELLOW

*What about alphabetical order when you color code?

Answer: Alphabetize the RED ancestors as one group, the BLUE ancestors as another group, the GREEN ancestors as another group, and the YELLOW ancestors as another group. Each group should be alphabetized separately.


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