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Growing and Sharing Your Family Tree shows how rewarding and informative building a family history can be. Genealogy instructor Jeff Sengstack teaches how to find lost ancestors, connect with living relatives, and collaborate with others to grow a family tree. He explains how to use the Family Tree Maker application along with Ancestry.com and other internet sites to track down census data, immigration records, and other important documents, and then organize family tree data. Jeff also presents tips on how to scan old photos, create video slideshows, and build family web sites. Exercise files accompany this course.
Download Jeff's free genealogy tips from the Exercise Files tab.
I want to show you how you can start putting your family tree information inside Family Tree Maker. First, you of course open up Family Tree Maker and you could just double-click on this icon to do to that, or if you don't have an icon on your desktop, go down to Start, All Programs, Family Tree Maker, and click on that icon. If you haven't put any data in at all, you will see this New Tree view. You have three options. Enter what you know, which is what we're going to do here. You can import a tree from an existing file, and I'll show you an example of that in a second, or you can download a tree from Ancestry.
We're going to skip this part for now. We'll go back to this when we talk about sharing trees in another lesson. Up on the right, you see this thing called a Web Dashboard. This is specifically aimed at me because I'm logged on. Once you're logged on, stuff that you've worked on before shows up here. So, for example, these are two trees that I've uploaded and they're showing up here. The rest of these things are kind of like updates on what's going on Ancestry.com. Let's go back to the second thing, importing a tree from an existing file. Let me just show you briefly how that works. If someone has given you a tree, just click in that button and browse for that tree.
Let me go find ours. Ours is called SampleFamilyTree, and you can use this one as well. So you open that guy up, and there it is. It gives it a name automatically. If I just click Continue, it will load up all those records and then shift over to the People workspace and says here is the log of what we did, and we say fine. We'll close that. Already you'll notice little green leaves are popping up here, because Family Tree Maker via Ancestry.com is actually finding hits online about these particular individuals.
Let me go back to what you're going to be doing now. Go back to the Plan view, back to the New Tree view, and enter what you know. Typically, you put in your name and your parents' names. In my case, I'm not going to put in my name. I'm going to do what most genealogists do. When they share their family tree information, they don't share information about living persons. So in most cases, they actually have that person on the tree. They just say living, and then that person's last name. So rather than me putting in all of my information about my birthday and when I got married and things like that, and make that public.
I'm going to keep that private for now. I'm going to put in my grandfather's name. So, typically what you do is just start typing in it. His name was John Frederick SENGSTACK. Now, I'm going to capitalize that all caps, because that's the standardized way of putting names in genealogy. Typically, all caps are surnames, and I'm going to press Enter. And once I do that, things start happening. It says do you want to call your new tree name, SENGSTACK? Okay, sure, we'll do that. Then it says, what's the gender? What's the sex of this person? Well, he's male.
What was his birthday? His birthday was April 28th. Now, I'm going to put it in backwards. I'm going to put in the way that most folks might do. I might type it like that and say 28th and it was 1893. When I do that, watch what happens. Family Tree Maker says, well this is not the standard genealogical way to do it. The standard way is to put the number, the date first. Well, it rearranges it for you, and also puts in the proper three-letter abbreviation for a month. What's his birth place? I'll start typing in and see what happens. Brooklyn, look at how it's helping me as I start typing.
Brooklyn, I'm going to put a comma, and I know that that's Kings County, but if I wanted to scroll down here, there it is. I'm going to select it, and that simplifies the whole process of putting in a place name. This is a standardized way of putting places. And it goes from small to large, town or village or city, and then county, state, country. Now, it says, what about his father's name? So I'll type it in. His father's name was Johann, don't have a middle name for him. Now it says, Oh! You want to put in SENGSTACK, don't you? Because it remembers the names that you put in, but in fact his name had an E at the end. I've to add that little E. Go down to the mother's name.
Now, I use maiden names for mother's. That's Katherine Marie DAMKE. I always put her maiden name, but some people like to have married names when they do women or people who have changed their names. So, I could type in a married name, and if I did that, I would put it after her middle name. I would put in parenthesis and then put down Sengstack with lowercase letters now. Like that. But I'm not a real fan of putting in married names, so I'll leave that out. But you can. That's the way to do it. You put in parenthesis after the middle name. Now it says, where do you want to put this file? Do you want to put it in the default location? Which is fine with me.
It's putting it in my Documents, which is where you normally keep things, or you can change that by clicking here and changing the file location. But I'm happy with the way things are all settled now. So I'm just clicking on Continue. That opens up the People workspace with those three people there. Look at that. Already we're getting ancestry hints, even though we've just put in a little bit of information about these people. If I put in more information, I'll get more hints, and that's one of the really exciting things about Family Tree Maker. So this is the basic way you get started, and inside this Family and Person tabs inside the People workspace, is where you start fine-tuning it.
And I discuss that in another video.
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