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Rhonda's Tips: Genealogy Questions Answered
by Rhonda R. McClure

January 04, 2001
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Continuing Pedigree Charts

Q: I have 4 generations on each chart. Many charts go to another and another etc. Is there a standard way to number these? Thanks. -- SOrr250656

A: There are a number of different ways to address this issue. Many people fill out a chart and then just simply assign the next numerical number to the line that carries on. Other people develop elaborate numbering systems.

Today, with the capabilities of the computer, this has been somewhat alleviated. Some programs will create what are known as cascading pedigree charts. Such charts print out the four generation pedigree charts and assign a number. Unlike the human brain which takes the next number, the computer figures out how many pages would be taken up if each line was carried forward a certain number of generations and then assigns the chart numbers based on this and the location a given page should be within that scheme.

One system that I like, and that allows me to keep my lineages somewhat together, relies on alternating numbers and letters. Therefore, I know that the top male line will always be a certain set of letters and numbers and they will all be grouped together. This system assigns the letters A through H to the first pedigree chart. Then when you are working on Chart A, the 8 lines that extend from there are assigned Chart numbers A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, and A8. As you are working in Chart A1, as the lines extend, beyond those four generations, the chart numbers assigned are A1A, A1B, A1C, A1D, A1E, A1F, A1G, and A1H. You continue to alternate those letters and number as you need.

There are other type systems that group pedigree charts together. This is just one of them, and if you are using your computer, they may not be necessary as your genealogy program may generate an alternative system.

Photograph Scanning Resolutions

Q: I scanned a photograph into a scrapbook, and it went in fine. However, the resolution is so high that the picture adds more than 0.5 mb of space. I do not need anything with this much resolution in the scrapbook. How can I reduce the resolution? -- Philip

A: Scanners have come a long way. The early ones were lucky to do 200 DPI (dots per inch). The new ones offer high resolutions of 1200 DPI now. The problem is that the higher the DPI number the bigger the file you are storing on your computer.

It sounds like you are scanning these photos into Family Tree Maker's scrapbook. Most genealogy programs have a similar option of scanning directly into the program. However, the resolution is not controlled by Family Tree Maker.

Whenever you launch the scanner, a program is launched that deals directly with the scanner. It is in this that you may need to change some settings. A lot depends on what you are going to use the scanned image for in the end.

If you are planning on printing the images, then you want to keep the higher resolution setting. This will make for a less splotchy picture when printed on paper than one of a lower resolution will. If you are planning on just putting the information on the Internet, then you can go with the lower resolution without noticing anything wrong with the image. In fact the lower resolutions are much better for the Internet from a download standpoint. The lower the resolution, the smaller the image, the faster the file will download.

To change the resolution, you will need to investigate the capabilities of your scanner and the software that came with it for creating the initial scan. This is not something that is directly controlled by Family Tree Maker, or any other genealogy program.

Family Tradition

Q: How or where would I look to find records on my grandfather? He was in the Royal Navy at a very early age because of his father's rank in the Navy or connections in court. He jumped ship in 1900 in the USA. Not sure where. His parents were divorced. He supposedly grew up in a castle on the Thames river. His mother was a cook, in that Castle? He never became a U.S citizen that we know of. How would I find that out? I was also told by his daughter (my aunt) that he was on a chain gang somewhere. -- Dennis

A: Family traditions, or the stories shared at family gatherings, are often what launch us into the search for our family history. While there is usually a grain of truth in the family story, the trick is in determining just what that truth is. Your grandfather sounds like quite a colorful character, and you will have your hands full weeding through the family stories to see just what his life really was like.

If you know when and where he died, that would be the first step. Get a copy of his death certificate. This will supply you with clues to when and where he was born, essential in a search like this.

The death certificate is likely to include where and when he was buried. You will want to investigate the records for the cemetery to see who else is buried near him. They may prove to be family members.

Also, you will want to look at the census records. These will help you in learning of his life in the United States, assuming he remained in the states for any length of time. These may also answer your question about his naturalization. Columns included in these latter censuses asked about naturalization. In 1920, in addition to wanting to know when he arrived in the United States, there will be information as to his current citizenship status.

Once you have a little more in the way of his place and date of birth, you can then turn to the Index to Civil Registration of England and Wales available on microfilm through the Family History Library. This index will supply you with enough information to request a copy of his birth record. Among other things, the birth record from England will tell you the occupation of his father and the residence.

Bit by bit you will begin to discover what of the family traditions are the truth and what has been created out of the retelling of the stories.

Jumping the Pond

Q: I have traced my family tree to an ancestor who came over from Europe. How can I make the jump across the ocean to find out where he came from? -- Jack

A: Usually in order to do any research in the old country, it is necessary to know more than just the name of the country. Most of the records in the European countries are found on the parish level. This is often smaller than the county or even city level.

Finding that parish requires exhaustive research from the records generated on this side of the ocean. Such records as naturalization, death, marriage and more should be looked into.

Once you have the pertinent information, the first stop should be the Family History Library Catalog. You can access this at your local Family History Center or online at the Web site.

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

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