I have mentioned my goal of having a chart of all my ancestors back to my 4x great grandparents printed in time for Christmas several time recently, but I thought it would be a good idea to go into some detail about my why I want to do this and what I want to achieve.
I have decided to call it My Christmas Tree Project because it is my family tree and I want it to be ready for Christmas, but mainly because I needed something short and simple to call it when I write or talk about it.
The finished product will be a printed chart, showing all my direct ancestors up to and including my 4x great grandparents. I am not sure if it is all going to fit on one chart and still be readable, I may have to have it printed in two halves.
The choice of 4x great grandparents was purely because that seemed the most achievable. I could have chosen 3x great grandparents and printed it tomorrow, but that would have given me nothing to aim for. Instead I now have a challenge to work towards, as well as a deadline.
I want to be able to show the tree around at Christmas when families gather, or visit. It will be a talking point, and whilst I don’t expect anyone to be able to add anything else to earlier generations, I do hope that I will be able to draw out information, and possibly photos of more recent ancestors.
Naturally part of it is an ego trip for me, being able to show off what I have achieved and show that all the time spent in front of the computer or in the record office and library has achieved something tangible.
So far most of my research has been trapped on my PC and more recently with the purchase of a netbook I have been able to share it easier, but I think people will be able to relate better to a printed chart than a small computer screen.
Of course a printed chart will only be able to contain a fraction of my research, for starters it will only have my direct ancestors on it, and I won’t be able to go into much detail on each individual, and will miss out some of the more interesting characters I have come across in my extended family.
The process of researching and preparing my data will also force me to review my data and fill in a lot of gaps that I have either forgotten to finish, or just skipped over on the way to something which seemed more interesting.
Currently I have twelve of my 4x great grandparents still to find, and five 4x great grandmothers whose maiden names I do not know yet. This week I will be putting together a plan to identify each of these seventeen individuals.
Some will be quite straight forward, such as requiring the purchase of a child’s birth certificate to provide the mother’s maiden name, but some are going to be more tricky because they are before the start of civil registration and detailed census returns.
Over the next couple of months I won’t be working exclusively on this project, and in many cases it will necessary to wait for a certificate to arrive or to get chance to visit a record office, so some of my other projects will get a look in. Also I won’t just stop at my 4x great grandparents, whilst I am at an archive it makes sense to carry on and try and go back further if possible.
Ultimately if I don’t find all 64 of my 4x great grandparents I am just going to have to live with the fact that my tree won’t look perfect, but in nature trees seldom do, so I shouldn’t get too hung up if mine doesn’t either.