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Ten Effective Strategies for Building a Family Tree


Genealogy is as much about having the correct perspective and managing expectations as it is about family history. The ten strategies listed in this article will give you a better outlook on what is required to be successful with your own family history research.

1. Understand the Size of Your Family

Let’s start with the basics: how big is your family? The amount of time it takes to build your family tree is dependant on the size of your family. Most people tend to underestimate family size because they base their estimate on known brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, etc. and they forget about their extended family. Let’s try to estimate the size of a typical extended family. This will help you gauge the amount of work required to build a complete family tree.

Don't expect to find Elvis or any other famous people in your family tree (and yes, that really is Elvis doing karate)

With some digging, most people can trace their family history back about 150 years. A generation is 32 years, so this represents five generations. That means being able to trace you family back to your about the time of your great-great-great-grandparents. Generally, this will be the scope of your family tree. How many people would typically be in a family tree of this size? Well, you have two parents, four grandparents and eight great-grandparents. If you keep counting backwards, you will find you have 32 great-great-great-grandparents. That is, 16 great-great-great-grandfathers and 16 great-great-great-grandmothers. Counting yourself, this means you have a total of 63 parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. going all the way back to your great-great-great-grandparents.

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