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Man In The Maze From the Tohono Odham Tribe of Southern Arizona

Appendix D
Creating Your Family Tree

Family Tree Construction
Web Resources and Computer Programs for Family Tree Construction



Family Tree Construction
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Personal computers and Internet resources have made genealogy searches accessible to many people. Building a family history is easier now that information such as marriage and birth records, cemetery burial records, immigration records, and so forth have, in many cases, been made into electronic files. Newspaper and magazine articles are also largely searchable on the Internet, as are social security and military service records. In addition to these kinds of sources, the basic framework for building a family tree can be found at commercial websites - a great time and effort saver.

Many Internet sites offer genealogical information; perhaps the best known genealogical library in the world was first established by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1894. Much of their library is available through their website at www.familysearch.org. RootsWeb.com, part of Ancestry.com, also provides many free historical searches, as do genealogy.org and usgenweb.org. Other commercial genealogical resources include FamilyTree.com and Ancestry.com.

The free search engines are a great way to begin family history and genealogical research. Each provides access to additional websites and links that can help you narrow your searches by focusing on members of specific religions and races. Due to the overwhelming number of tools now available online for this research, it is suggested that you begin at one of the generalized websites. From our investigation, ancestry.com and the Family Tree Maker® program seem to provide a reasonable approach to building a family history which includes the capability to add photographs, video, and audio clips to your tree. We suggest that you investigate a number of sites to compare resources before choosing the one that best suits your needs. It is good to prepare for your search with the following guidelines and subsequently use the suggested, available resources in research.
You can do a great deal to prepare for your search.
1.Get family members involved in the project to help you - family reunions, holiday celebrations, anniversaries, and birthdays are good times to enlist help.
2.Set up a form to better collect family information in an easy, organized way.
3.Enter names and information on known relatives.
4.Make an outline of the lives of specific family members.
5.Collect family documents.
6.Collect and scan photos for placement on the family tree.
7.Record your family history interviews (videocamera preferred) and make notes of information that comes out in the stories that could make searches easier. If you are planning to make audio recordings, Hallmark's® Legacy Keeper kit ($50.00) provides an easy-to-use MP3 recorder/player to make digital recordings that can be transferred to DVDs for archiving. The kit comes in a storage box with a booklet of interview questions, instructions for using the recorder, organizing folders, and a photo album. More information can be found at www.hallmark.com.
8.Put together a historical data base on your computer.

Web Resources and Computer Programs for Family Tree Construction
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Creating a family tree has been simplified with the use of modern technology. There are now computer programs and Internet sites that are solely dedicated to the recording and research of genealogy. There is no one simple way to go about this task, yet a suggested start is given below.
1.Genealogy web sites available on the Internet can be used as tools for gathering information and recording/storing what you collect within an electronic framework. Family Tree Maker® is currently the leading program for creating family trees, and is available through www.ancestry.com for $39.95. This program allows you to enter information, insert photographs and other documents, store audio and video clips, and create a family tree. You can either work on your tree right on the website or download the program to your own computer. By buying the Family Tree Maker® program and installing it on your own computer, your work will not be limited by website space constraints.
2.If you need to research your family history, subscribing to websites such as ancestry.com gives you access to both national and international records. The price for subscribing depends on how much data you need to collect and the length of time you wish to use the research site. If you buy the Family Tree Maker® program through ancestry.com, you can merge history files you find on the website into your tree - a simple and time-saving feature. Please note that it is possible for the program to work independently of the ancestry.com site. Pricing varies depending on what program you use. The U.S. Deluxe Membership ranges from $19.95 for a single month fee to $12.95 monthly for a yearly subscription. The World Deluxe Membership ranges from $29.95 (single month) to $24.95 per month for a year's subscription.
3.Once you have gathered the desired information (such as seen in the example family tree), it can be entered into the Family Tree Maker® program.
4.Photographs can be uploaded to the Family Tree Maker® program and attached to specific branches of the tree or individual persons. Please note that this requires that you have the correct camera cables and programs to upload digital photos. Existing print photographs will need to be scanned into digital form and stored on your computer for use in the program. (If you have many photographs, it might be wise to invest in an all-in-one printer, copier, scanner and fax to digitize your images. Alternatively, some photo labs will scan photographs and/or negatives or slides for a fee.
5.Audio Clips of stories, interviews, music, etc. can also be added to the family tree. The program also supports the inclusion of Video Clips (again, in order to use this function, you must have the proper cables and programs).
6.www.ancestry.com has recently added an easy-to-use publishing section which will print family tree posters or pages that you have designed. At this time (Fall 2007) you can order a 24-page family history book for an introductory price of $29.95, and add up to 100 pages for an additional $0.39 per page. Discounts are available when purchasing multiple copies. Introductory rates include 24x18 inch family tree prints for a fee of $19.95, with discounts for multiple prints.

There are many ways to create family trees in order to preserve the legacy of your family. Appendix H provides a listing of selected resources for starting this project.


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First appeared January 31, 2008; updated December 14, 2010