Betsy Cross

Family HistorySunday Series 1:1 Getting Your Bearings

In, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy on April 8, 2012 at 11:00 am


If you missed the intro to this series you can read it here.

In the last post I invited you to join me in the goal to get your 4 generations of genealogy submitted to Today we’re going to get a bird’s-eye view of your genealogy project, and get you ready for your journey towards submission.

Let’s climb to the top of your family tree and look down over your ancestors to get our bearings of where we are and where we’re going. Instead of focusing on the details of one ancestor who has piqued your interest, we’re going to look at the whole forest of them!

Resist the temptation of letting your eyes wander to the horizon and getting overwhelmed with the vastness of the “forest” of ancestors that you have. Focus on just 4 generations of ancestors, those who are closest to you. You can see a picture of the chart you’ll use and get a free download of it here. The chart will include you, your parents, grand parents, great grandparents, and great great grandparents.  Get it printed to its full size. 18×24″ at Staples, and share it with friends. I always teach people to stay within this chart because it’s manageable, not overwhelming, and it lays the foundation for success with research of later generations.

Your job this week is to:

a. fill out the chart as best you can with the information that you have in your memory or that you can glean from documents in your possession. Ask family members for some help. This chart is your worksheet. Use pencil.

b. transfer the data to an online tree-building program like AncestralQuest, MyHeritage, or You can build a tree for free on any of these sites.

c.  download your tree as a GEDCOM file into your computer and upload it into

 You’ve started!! It’s THAT simple. Now you have an online and offline tree that we can work on together.

You’ve overcome one of the greatest difficulties I’ve encountered when helping newbies with their family history- the inability to see the big picture (the forest) because you are too busy focusing on the small details (the trees). This quote says it best:

“You can’t see the forest for the trees.”


Next week we’ll start filling in the gaps to your ancestors’ information! See you then, and have a great week. Thanks again for being a part of my dream!

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  1. Cool Betsy!!! Now I’ve got FUN work to start on this week! Lets see how confused I can

    Happy Easter!



    • You want to know how many times I rewrote this? HA! I have such a hard time simplifying. Let me know if I need a #5 edit! Thanks, Jane. Have fun!

  2. [...] Last week we got you prepared with an offline, paper worksheet, and registered [...]

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