Document Sample
					                                                                                                      Family History lEssoN sEriEs

             Perform DescenDancy research

    iNDEX                                                                                            The goal of descendancy research is to find all the
        •	 Before you Begin                                                                          descendants of an ancestral couple. While ancestral
                                                                                                     research starts with you and goes back in time,
        •	 Process of Descendancy Research                                                           descendancy research starts with an ancestral couple
                                                                                                     you have identified and comes forward to the present
        •	 Step 1: Choose an Ancestor to Start With                                                  time. Before you can do descendancy research, you
        •	 Step 2: Collect Previous Research                                                         must first identify an ancestral family with which to
                                                                                                     start. To find that family, you may need to do some
        •	 Step 3: Consult Additional Sources                                                        traditional family history research and then move to
                                                                                                     descendancy research.
        •	 Step 4: Compile What You Have Learned
        •	 Ideas for Teachers                                                                        One great advantage of descendancy research is the
                                                                                                     number of names you can find. For example, if you
                                                                                                     search from you to your grandparents and then to
    ancestral research                                                                               your great-grandparents (doing ancestral research),
                                         Frank G.                                                    the number of direct-line ancestors you can find is 14
                             John G.                                                                 people. However, if you begin your research with your
                                         Sally R.
                 Peter G.
                                                                                                     great-grandparents and locate all their descendants
                                         Carl M.                                                     (doing descendancy research), the number of people
                             Sara M.                                                                 you can find can be in the hundreds. The results of
                                         Clair P.                                                    descendancy research can be amazing.
    Sam G.
                                         Blake S.                                                    Descendancy research can lead you to important
                             Tom S.                                                                  clues, contacts, or records you might not find if you
                                         Marla K.                                                    researched only direct ancestors. These clues and
                 Lucy S.
                                         Phill W.
                                                                                                     contacts can often help you get past dead ends in
                             Kim W.                                                                  your ancestral research.
                                         Diana L.

    Descendancy research                                                                Frank G. / Sally R.

        John G. / Sara M.                  Todd G. / Marie O.                     Ruth G. / Ted J.                Fredrich G.                Logan G. / Anita H.         Amanda G. / Wayne M.

Peter G. /    Jane G.   Mary G. /        James G. / Lizzie G. /         Robert J. / Kyle J. / Mariah J.
 Lucy S.                Matt K.           Sophie J. Ralph L.             Cindy S. Shaine K.                           Thom G. /     Brad G.      Mollie G. / Abby G. /    Paul G. /
                                                                                                                      Myrium A.                  Donny A.     Rex P.       Lara F.
                                                     Chuck L. /         Andrew J.. / Lloyd J. /
 Sam G.      Adam K. / Jacob K. /    Levi K.          Lilly F.           Haley R. Hanna F.                                                                   Dannon P. / Clark G. /
              Eve D.     Jill H.                                                                     Hawk G. /        June G. /       Gary G. /               Terisa K. Louise L.
                                                                                                     Leslie D.       Timothy M.       Martha S.

      Joe G. /          Steve G. /       Mark G. /         Sarah G. /          Rich G. /
      Lavon S.          Jolene S.         Amy J.            Jared S.           LuAnn B.       David G. /         Earl G. /      Craig G. /        Trudy G.      Aaron G. /     Trent G. /    Chad G. /
                                                                                              Marie H.           Jonie F.        Dana L.                        Deborah S.      Livey D.    Veronica R.

Before you Begin
Fill in a pedigree chart, or locate a pedigree chart for your family. This chart will provide some dates and places to
help you get started. These forms can be found at the following website;
Process Descendancy research
The process of searching for the descendants of your ancestors is the same as the process for finding direct-line
Step 1: Choose a Family to Start With
Step 2: Collect Previous Research
Step 3: Consult Additional Sources
Step 4: Compile What You Have Learned
step 1: Choose a Family With Which to start
Do you have an ancestor about whom you are curious? Have you heard intriguing stories about a great-
grandparent? Possibly you are looking for a genetic connection to a great uncle who may have had the same
illness you have just had diagnosed. Many reasons may spark your interest in a particular individual or family.
Regardless of how you decide, the first step is to choose an individual or family to use as the starting point.
Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind as you get started:
  •	 Begin with what you know.
     If you already know the names of your great-grandparents and approximately when and where they were
     married, it will be much easier to search for their descendants.
  •	 Begin with individuals or families alive around 1850.
     People who lived in the period from the mid-1800s to the present are usually more easy to find. In many
     countries, records began to be created by the mid-1800s that will make your search much easier. Birth and
     death records became more complete at that time and are more easily accessed. Some countries began to
     keep census records, including the names and ages of each family member. In addition, more individuals were
     literate by that time and kept family Bibles and journals.
  •	 Record what you find on family group records.
     On a pedigree chart, you can only trace the ancestry of one child, leaving out the rest of the children. A family
     group record will enable you to record information for all the children in a family, as well as for the parents
     and grandparents. As you search for the descendants of your ancestors, family group records will help you
     organize your work and compile what you find.
  •	 Begin with real curiosity.
     As you search for the descendants of your ancestors, remember to follow your heart. If you feel strongly that
     you need to learn about a particular family, listen to those feelings, and search for that family.
step 2: Collect Previous research
Family history research is one of the most popular hobbies in the world today. Someone else could very well
have already started gathering information about the very ancestral family you have selected. Your extended
family members may have this information, or you may be able to find it in published family histories or on the

    Expert tip: Many histories can be accessed on the Internet. You can also request them at your local library
    through an interlibrary loan system or they can be sent to a family history center.

   Expert tip: Your search may result in several sources of information about an ancestor. Focus on records that
   provide information about other extended family members. These records may not be accurate or complete,
   but they will give you a starting point.

Finding family records
Immediate or extended family members can be a rich resource of information. They may have access to family
Bibles, photographs, letters, and personal histories, or they may know where you can go to find these records.
Finding published family histories
Family histories are books that give genealogical information about one or more generations of a particular
family. These books are often very well-researched and a great resource for finding family information. Some
family histories, however, have been poorly researched and documented. You should verify that the information
you find in published family histories is accurate and documented.
You can often find family histories in libraries in the area where your ancestors lived. The Library of Congress and
the Family History Library also have extensive collections of published family histories.
The following are great places to start your search for family histories:
  •	 Family History Library Catalog (Go to > Search > Family History Library Catalog > Surname
  •	 WorldCat database (Go to
  •	 The Library of Congress online catalog (Go to
  •	 HeritageQuest Online (Go to:
Finding internet information compiled by others
Internet genealogical databases are an excellent additional source. Someone may have already compiled and
posted information on the ancestral family you are seeking. A quick search of a few Web sites may yield complete
and well-documented research that only requires verification. You may even discover family members with
whom you can collaborate.
A good place to start your search for family information that has been compiled by others is
This site has several compiled databases that may help you find information, including the Ancestral File, the
Pedigree Resource File, and the International Genealogical Index (IGI.)
internet search engines
Search engines, such as Google or Yahoo, help you learn if someone has posted information on the Internet
about your ancestors and descendants of your ancestors. Search engines may help you find pedigree charts,
family Web sites, cemetery records, personal histories, family Bibles, and so forth.

    Expert tip: You may find many references to your ancestor in a search engine, especially if he or she has a
    common name. The following search strategies can help to narrow your search
 •	 To search for an exact phrase or name, put quotation marks around your search terms. For example, search on “John
    K. Doe” (typing the quotation marks into the search box). Also try putting the surname first and the given name
    second—“Doe, John K.”
 •	 You many also want to try the name without middle initials.
 •	 Remember to try alternate spellings, abbreviations, nicknames, and so forth.
 •	 Try adding a place name or date to your search terms. For example, to find all of the Werths from Chicago, enter
    “Werth Chicago.”
 •	 For additional search tips, go to the help section of the search engine.

Quick reference Chart 1 - Where to look for Previous research

 internet resource         Contents               Url address                      instructions
Published Family     The Family History       Go to:               Enter the family name in the search box;
Histories            Library Catalog >   then check the search results.
                     has an index of                               If the book has been microfilmed, you can
                                              Family History
                     published family                              order a copy of it through your local family
                                              Library Catalog >
                     histories.                                    history center.
                                              Surname Search
                                                                   For common surnames, choose Keyword
                                                                   Search in the Family History Library Catalog
                                                                   and add an additional surname or the
                                                                   name of the location where the family
                                                                   lived to narrow the search.

Compiled Family      Use the Pedigree         Go to:               Enter the family name and fill in other
Genealogies          Resource File (PRF) >   boxes you might have information for;
                     to see if someone        Search > Pedigree    then click Search.
                     has already              Resource File        There may be multiple results. Look for
                     identified some or                            records that include spouse and children.
                     all of the children in                        Remember that records in the Pedigree
                     the family you are                            Resource File may not always be accurate
                     researching.                                  or complete. Use them as a starting point.

Internet Search      A search engine     Go to:                    Type in the information in the search box;
Engines              may help you or         then click Search. Click on the links that
                     find documents             seem to contain relevant information.
                     anywhere on
                     the Internet that
                                                                   Narrow the search by placing quotation
                     mention the search
                                                                   marks around the first and last name—
                     name you entered.
                                                                   “John K. Doe.” Try putting the surname
                     This search often
                                                                   first—“Doe, John K.” If you do not get any
                     leads to descendant
                                                                   relevant results, try searching without the
                                                                   middle initial or middle name. If you get
                                                                   too many results, try adding a place name
                                                                   or a date.

Broadening your search
A quick review of published family histories, compiled genealogies, and resources on the Internet will tell you
how much research may still be needed. For information on how to do basic research, go to www.familysearch.
org and click How do I get started?
step 3: Consult additional sources
Certain records are particularly rich in descendant information. Five record types—census records, wills and
probate records, county histories, church records, obituaries—generally include information about parents and
children and vital information for each person listed. These records will help you identify the descendants for
whom you are searching. In this section you will learn:
 •	 What you can expect to learn from each type of record.
 •	 Where you can find each type of record.
Census records
Many governments have taken regular censuses of their citizens. In the United States, these censuses have taken
place every decade since 1790. Many census records are available in a digital, searchable format. If you have
census records available, you should search them for a record of your family. This record will guide the rest of
your research by placing your family in a particular place at a specific time. Census records can be searched free
of charge at any Church family history center with an Internet connection.

   Expert tip: Starting in 1850, U.S. census records listed the names of each person living in the household. This
   census and those that followed are an effective resource for finding the names of an entire household.

Here are some hints for searching through census records:
 •	 FamilySearch includes the 1880 U.S. census, the 1881 British census, and the 1881 Canadian census. If the family you
    are researching was living in one of these countries in 1880, one of these censuses will be helpful. (The entire 1890 US
    Census was destroyed and is not available for research).
    1. Go to FamilySearch at > Search (tab along the top of the screen) > Census (left panel
    of the screen) >
    2. Enter the information you know about your ancestor, such as full names, dates and places of birth, marriages and
    death, etc.
    3. Click search.
 •	 The 1900 and the 1910 U.S. censuses were unique in that they listed how many children were born to the mother of
    the household and how many of those children were still living at the time the census was taken. If your ancestor
    lived in the United States in 1900 or in 1910, this resource may help you determine if you have identified all the
    children in a family.
 •	 You can often locate possible siblings, children, or relatives of your ancestor by searching census records for
    individuals with the same surname. This is especially true if households with the same last name are listed next to or
    near each other or within one or two census pages of where your family is located.
 •	 Women occasionally gave one or more of their male children their maiden name. You can sometimes locate children
    and grandchildren by using the surname of the mother as the first name when you search census records.
Wills and probate records
Some counties and states began recording wills or estate probate procedures as early as the 1600s. This practice
of settling the estates of property owners became almost universal in the United States by 1900. Family wills can
help you identify descendants, since children were commonly listed by name. Even if your ancestor did not leave
a will, a probate record containing vital information about heirs may still exist.

Wills and probate records are generally kept on a county level, so you will need to have some idea of where
your ancestors died to see if they left a will. The Family History Library has a large collection of wills and probate
records available on microfilm.
To see probate records available in the Family History Library, visit and follow these steps:
1. From the home page, click the Library tab at the top of the screen.
2. Click Family History library Catalog.
3. Click Place search.
4. In the Place field, type the name of the county where your ancestor resided.
5. In the Part of field, type the name of the state in which the county is located.
6. Look for probate records listed among the record types. Microfilms of the listed records are available in the
   Family History Library and can be ordered from a local family history center.
County histories
County histories also often identify families and their descendants. Thousands of these histories were compiled
and published as part of the U.S. centennial celebration in 1876. Others were published to mark various county
centennial anniversaries. Most histories include biographical sketches of county residents, often containing
information about the person’s children, grandchildren, siblings, and ancestors. Since a fee was often required for
inclusion in a county history, not all residents participated, but many did.
To see what county histories are available in the family history library, visit and follow these
1. From the home page, click the Library tab at the top of the screen.
2. Click Family History library Catalog.
3. Click Place search.
4. In the “Place field”, type the name of the county where your ancestor resided.
5. In the “Part of field”, type the name of the state in which the county is located
6. Look for History among the record types.

    Expert tip: You can search for town histories as well as county histories.

You can also call county offices directly. Many directories are available on the Internet to help you find the
telephone number of a county office in the locality you are searching.
Church records
Many churches kept excellent baptismal records, which usually included the names of the child’s parents.
Sometimes all the children of a particular couple were identified in one set of church records. If you know what
    Expert tip: When you look at church and other records, remember that families sometimes gave two or more
    children the same first name. Occasionally they gave all their male or female children the same first name, and
    then provided each with a unique middle name. A more common occurrence was that when a child died, the
    parents gave the next child the same name as the deceased child.

church your ancestor belonged to, obtain the microfilmed church records by using the same method described
for finding town and county records.
To see what church records are available in the family history library, visit and follow these
1. Click the library tab at the top of the screen.
2. Click Family History library Catalog.
3. Click Place search.
4. In the Place field, type the name of the town where your ancestor resided.
5. In the Part of field, type the name of the state in which the county is located.
6. Look for Church records among the record types.
You can also call a church directly. Many directories are available on the Internet to help you find the telephone
number of a church in the locality you are searching.
By 1900, local newspapers often published obituaries containing information about the deceased’s siblings and
children. Some began much earlier. Many newspapers today have archives carrying obituaries from past editions.
You can quickly search if your ancestor had an obituary by contacting the local library newspaper archives. A
telephone number for the library in your ancestor’s town may be available on the Internet. Ask the librarian how
you can obtain the information or arrange an interlibrary loan. Some newspaper archives are also available on
the Internet.
Many obituaries contain information about extended family members related to the person who has died. You
can use print and Internet telephone directories to locate people mentioned in an obituary.
If you do not know when or where your ancestor died, you may be able to find this information in the Social
Security Death Index at for ancestors who lived and worked in the United
States. The index lists names of deceased individuals from the mid-1960s to the present. It provides the date an
ancestor was born, when the person died, and where the person resided at the time of death. This index only
includes individuals that had a social security number in the United States.

Quick reference Chart 2 - records to Consult
 record            Contents                         How to Use                Url address             For more Help
Census Family Search includes an           Use censuses to learn            Go to:                    Go to:
Records index to some censuses             information about family          [Address] for a
        online. Some censuses list the     units. Gender, ages, and                                   lesson on using
                                                                            Guides > Step-
        names of individuals living in     other useful information are                               census records.
                                                                            by-step Guides >
        the household, with ages and       often provided. Neighboring
        occupations.                       relatives can sometimes be       Click the link
                                           identified. Fees are charged     dealing with
                                           by some online census            census records.
                                           databases. However, Church
                                           family history centers can
                                           provide free access to some of
                                           these online databases.
Wills and The Family History Library       Locate the films you want to     From:                     Go to:
Probate has a large collection of          review. Order a copy of the          [Address] for
Records wills and probate records on       film from a Church family                                  a lesson on
                                                                            Library > Family
          microfilm. Some have online      history center.                                            using wills
                                                                            History Library
          indexes. Probate records                                                                    and probate
                                                                            Catalog > Place
          include information on family                                                               records.
          members, property, and so
County Thousands were published            Find the county of residence;    From:                     Go to:
Histories by counties for the U.S.         then search by surname           [Address] for
          Centennial in 1876. Most         among the county or town                                   a lesson on
                                                                            Library > Family
          include biographies of           history records.                                           using county
                                                                            History Library
          residents and contain                                                                       historical
                                                                            Catalog > Place
          information about children,                                                                 records.
          grandchildren, siblings, and
          ancestors. Since fees were                                          •	 Type the name
          often charged for inclusion                                            of the county
          in the county history, not all                                         in the Place
          residents were included.                                               field.
                                                                              •	 Type the name
                                                                                 of the state in
                                                                                 the Part of field.
                                                                              •	 Click on the
                                                                                 History link.
Church    Many churches kept excellent     Contact the churches in the      From:                     Go to:
Records   baptismal records, including     ancestor’s town of residence.          [Address] for
          the names of parents.            A pastor or priest may be                                  a lesson on
                                                                            Library > Family
                                           able to help you search the                                finding family
                                                                            History Library
                                           records. There may be a small                              members in
                                                                            Catalog > Place
                                           fee.                                                       church records.

step 4: Compile What you Have learned
Once you have learned about the descendants of your ancestors, record the information, and share it with
record what you find.
As you identify the members of your ancestral families, you should record the information you find. The family
group record is the most universal means for recording information about parents and their descendants.
If you own a computer, you may prefer to record the information you find in an electronic database. There are
many computer programs which allow you to do just that. One that is free of charge is Personal Ancestral File
To download the latest version of this program, visit and follow these steps:
1. From the home page, click the Download PaF link located at the bottom of the screen.
2. Provide your name and e-mail address, and click submit.
3. Follow the download instructions found on the screen.
Although PAF does require some computer experience, the program is not hard to learn. PAF includes numerous
tutorials. For additional help, visit
Finding the descendants of your ancestors can be rewarding. This approach to family history research will help
you find hundreds of relatives you would have missed had you focused your research only on your ancestors.
It might also provide the clues and information you need to get past dead ends in your search for ancestors.
Descendancy research will help you locate living relatives of whom you were not aware. You can collaborate
with living relatives and share the workload with others. Learning about the children, grandchildren, and even
the great-grandchildren of your ancestors gives you a more complete picture of your family.

ideas for teachers
teaching Goals
Help class members:
 •	 Understand the value of descendancy research over ancestral research.
 •	 Begin to find the descendants of their ancestors.
 •	 Become familiar with records containing descendant information.
 •	 Use family group records to record the information they find.
Preparing to teach
The following suggestions are important if you are working with your class members for the first time.
 •	 Contact your class members before the first class period and get to know a little about each student.
 •	 Ask about their expectations for the class.
 •	 Assess their experience with writing and with family history. Determine if they have read other family histories.
 •	 Ask how much they know about their family.
 •	 If you can find them, bring several examples of family histories other people have created.
Help Class members Understand
Display a picture of a family like the one shown below. Invite the class members to imagine the photograph with
some family members missing. Invite a few class members to tell how they feel about the family picture with

missing individuals. Explain that finding the descendants of their ancestors will help their families to be complete.
Help Class members apply
 •	 Read to the class the story of Sharon Jones (included at the end of this lesson).
 •	 Show the class members a copy of your pedigree chart. Explain how it is limited to direct-line ancestors. Ask what is
    missing from couples listed on a pedigree chart. (Answer: The names and information of other children born to each
 •	 Show the class members how your family group sheet can account for every child of each couple listed on the

    pedigree chart.
 •	 Encourage class members to select a family(s) from their pedigree as a starting point for descendancy research. Help
    them identify a couple from which to start with (for example, a couple who were married and who started their
    families about the mid-1800s.)
 •	 Help class members begin completing a descendancy chart for the family(s) they have chosen. If they do not have a
    family group record for a family, help them begin one.
 •	 If you have access to the Internet, help class members access a census database to search for a family member.
 •	 If you have access to the Internet, show the class how a search engine such as Google or Yahoo works. Conduct a
    couple of searches using the names of class members.
 •	 Get a copy of an obituary from your own research. Make several photocopies of it, and give a copy to each class
    member. Show the class what kinds of information might be found in an obituary.
 •	 Have the class review the glossary in lesson 7, or hand out copies to class members. Have them refer to this glossary
    as needed while they go through each class.
 •	 Ask class members to share what descendancy research means to them and how they will pursue it.
 •	 Challenge class members to report back to you the progress they have made after searching for their family’s
    descendants for a month or so.

stories and Quotes
The Story of Sharon Jones
For the past year Sharon Jones has been doing family history work. She began her quest to find her ancestry by
recording personal information about herself and her parents. She also talked to several family members who
knew a bit about their family heritage. By doing these things and by searching other resources, she was able
to find and record information about herself, her parents, her grandparents, and her great-grandparents. After
she researched for awhile, she had more difficulty in locating information. Although she searched diligently,
she could not find information about her great-great-grandparents on her father’s side. After many hours of
searching, she became frustrated.
Sharon changed her strategy. Instead of trying to go back in time, she decided to come forward. From her
pedigree chart, she picked her great-grandfather and great-grandmother (the son and daughter-in-law of the
missing great-great-grandfather.) She then searched for information on all the children and grandchildren of this
couple. She traced these descendants all the way to the present day. In doing so, she found over 300 new people
who were all part of her extended family. The research helped her find clues about the origins of her family and
helped her contact a distant cousin who had valuable information about her unknown great-great-grandparents
on her father’s side. Sharon was no longer at a dead end.