Sunday, November 14, 2010

Putting Together my Son’s Ancestry Reports

Genealogy Projects

I’ve recently posted stories on each of my blogs telling of the work I did to prepare a pedigree chart and ancestry report for my son. I adopted my son as an infant. Last year he met his birth mother and, upon his request, she gave him a 4 generation pedigree chart. A genealogist’s dream! He knew that I’ve wanted for many years to be able to research his natural heritage.

I’ve had requests by good genealogy friends for a post on how I went about preparing the reports for Matt. I’ll attempt to give a brief overview of my work.

After receiving that initial 4 generation pedigree, I spent the following 3 months researching those families on her chart. I’d be crippled as a researcher without my subscription to Ancestry.com. One of Matt’s ancestor’s families immigrated from Germany. I was able to find the ship manifest on Ancestry.com! A cousin of his birth mother has entered her family information into a public tree on Ancestry.com. I emailed her and got the sources for the information on the family she had in common with Matt. She has over 7,000 photos on her tree, over 200 of which are Matt’s ancestors! What a blessing for me and Matt. He now has pictures of his great and great, great grandparents in one line. We’ve been able to pick out physical similarities already!

I saved those photos to a CD which I included in the material I gave to Matt. I was fortunate to find many photos also at Find-A-Grave.

My genealogy software of choice is RootsMagic4. Every piece of information I found online (from a large variety of websites), in addition to that which I was given to start with, was entered into the database. After I’d researched for 5 months, I decided it was time to print up the reports and prepare a book for Matt and one for his birth mom. He’s been asking about my progress for all of 2010, so it was time to deliver.

I printed a 15 generation Ancestors report in RootsMagic. It was 87 pages long! I made a decision along the way to not include thumbnail photos in my RootsMagic database and I’ll explain why. I keep my photos in a file on my personal laptop, but it’s not connected to a printer. I use my office computer to print reports because it’s connected to a very nice Canon copier. The reports from RootsMagic have to be printed from the same computer where the photos are stored. For 20 years I’ve used Microsoft Publisher for all my document preparation because I can easily manipulate photos. Unlike WORD, in Publisher photos stay right where you want them! So I saved my RootsMagic reports as .rtf files and opened them in Publisher for final formatting. During that process, I inserted relevant photos and was able to place them exactly where they belonged.

I also printed Descendant reports for the families in each of his 4 major lines…as well as some extended lines. I printed family group sheets for the families in his direct line for 4 generations. I printed out information from web sites on other collateral families that were relevant…Elvis Presley, for example. Elvis is a distant cousin of Matt’s, I discovered.

I assembled all the reports and other documentation into a large 3 ring binder, with a table of contents in the front. I also printed a short 4 generation pedigree chart with color coding and put it in the front of the book so Matt could follow where all these ancestors belonged!

Now I have to confess that, although I’m a staunch supporter of RootsMagic, I’m not fond of the way the wall charts print. And with my limited budget, I’m not able to pay for a very nice professional chart that I could get from Janet Hovorka at Generation Maps.So I exported my database from RootsMagic into Family Tree Maker (I still have v. 16 on my computers) and printed the large pedigree chart from there.  It came out about 80 pages, so I trim the right side and bottom of each page about 1/8” and overlap the pages as I lay the pedigree chart together and tape them in place. Then my husband help0ed me by taking the taped-together  12 foot pedigree chart to a local commercial printer who feeds it through a blueprint printer. The final product is a seamless pedigree chart! In the photo at the top of this story, the pedigrees are rolled up in the white tubes shown.

The package I was able to present to my son included the pedigree chart, the 3 ring binder with all ancestor and descendant report and other miscellaneous information, and a CD with all the photos I was able to gather.  I like the 3 ring binder because it allows me to add pages and update reports as I gain new information.

We don’t have to be a rocket-scientist to prepare nice reports from our research, but we certainly do have to have a big chunk of time and a lot of patience and perseverance to put it all together in presentable form. But when it’s a labor of love, that’s a small price to pay for the appreciation shown when the final product is delivered, read and shared with family!

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