Genealogy Pathfinder Honour

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1. Define the following words:

a. Genealogy
the study of a family's ancestry and history.
b. Ancestor
a person from whom one has descended
c. Descendant
one who is the offspring of a specific ancestor
d. Spouse
either member of a married couple; husband or wife
e. Sibling
a person having at least one parent in common with another (i.e., a brother or a sister)

2. Read the genealogy of Christ

a. Be able to tell where it is found in the New Testament

Luke 3:23-38 and Matthew 1:1-17

b. Write out the genealogy of Christ – beginning with Adam

From Luke 3:

Adam, Seth, Enosh, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methusala, Lamech, Noah,
Shem, Arphaxad, Cainan, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah,
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Perez, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse,
David, Nathan, Mattatha, Menna, Melea, Eliakim, Jonan, Joseph, Judah, Simeon, Levi, Matthat, Jorim,
Eliezer, Joshua, Er, Elmadam, Cosam, Addi, Melki, Neri, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Rhesa, Joanan, Joda, Josech,
Semein, Mattathias, Maath, Naggai, Esli, Nahum, Amos, Mattathias, Joseph, Jannai, Melki, Levi, Matthat, Heli, Joseph, Jesus

3. List five ways to obtain family genealogy information

  • Talk to family members
  • Internet
  • Library
  • Public Records
  • Marriage Databases
  • Ellis Island Records
  • Mormon Records (they believe in baptising for the dead, and have assembled significant genealogy information to facilitate this)
  • Census data
  • Cemeteries
  • Passenger Lists (boatloads of immigrants etc)
  • Military Records
  • Obituaries
  • Newspapers
  • Family records (family Bible etc) and
  • Personal letters

4. Know at least three societies that help with genealogy research

  • The National Genealogical Society, Arlington, Virginia
  • The Federation of Genealogical Societies
  • Federation of East European Family History Societies
  • Historical & Genealogical Societies of the U.S.

5. Learn four steps important to genealogy research

6. What is the purpose of documentation?

  • To check and validate the data.
  • By using documented data you won't run the risk of duplicating efforts that someone else has made.
  • To pass on the information to future generations.
  • Satisfaction of viewing actual artifacts.
  • Others can help you continue your search if you reach a perceived dead end.

7. Define a primary source versus a secondary source for documentation.

A primary source (also called original source) is a document, recording or other source of information (paper, picture,....etc.) that was created at the time being studied, by an authoritative source, usually one with direct personal knowledge of the events being described. It serves as an original source of information about the topic. Primary sources are distinguished from secondary sources, which often cite, comment on, or build upon primary sources.

Examples would include:

  • Birth, Marriage, and Death certificates
  • Family Bibles (if recorded by someone witnessing the event shortly after it occurred.
  • Letters describing the events as they are taking place by a person involved.

A secondary source is a document or recording that relates or discusses information originally presented elsewhere. A secondary source contrasts with a primary source, which is an original source of the information being discussed. Secondary sources involve generalization, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, or evaluation of the original information. Primary and secondary are relative terms, and some sources may be classified as primary or secondary, depending on how it is used.

Examples include:

  • History books
  • Encyclopedias
  • Letters written well after the event
  • Oral histories as told by someone without first-hand knowledge of the event.

8. Prepare a four-generation family chart – beginning with yourself.

Here is a blank four-generation family chart. Fill in the names after "name:", put the date of birth after the "b:", and the date of death after the "d:". If the person has not died, leave the date of death field blank. If you do not know a precise date, put a year (or a range of years). If you do not know a piece of information at all, leave the field blank.


9. List ways to record your genealogy information.

  1. Family tree chart
  2. Computer Genealogy programme
  3. Family group sheets

10. Research your family history by talking/writing to your oldest living relative. Ask the following:

  • a. First memory
  • b. When and where you were born?
  • c. First church you remember attending?
  • d. Names of schools, and location, you attended.
  • e. Where you lived at age ten and age fourteen.
  • f. From what country did your ancestors emigrate?
  • g. Where and when you were married.
  • h. If you had children please give their names, place and date of birth.
  • i. Write a thank you to your relative for their time and include a photo of yourself and ask them if they would be willing to share a copy of an older family photo with you.

It would be a good idea to let your relative know ahead of time that you are interested in family history. He (or she) may surprise you with a wealth of documentation, and is sure to be delighted to share this information with you. You might get to read love letters your great-grandfather wrote to you great-grandmother, or see photographs you have never seen before. You may hear stories of long-dead relatives, or learn things you never knew about living relatives (such as your parents). It would be a good idea to bring an audio recorder so you can go back and listen to the conversation again. Such a recording will become a valuable part of your family's history.

11. Make a historical record of your life including:

a. Genealogical chart

See requirement 8 for a chart, or use a computer programme to record the information (you'll need to print it out in order to share it as per part e).

b. Records that pertain to your life

These records would include any of the following:

  • Birth certificate
  • Child dedication certificate
  • Baptismal certificate
  • Marriage license
  • Military orders (assignments)
  • Deed to family property

There is no reason for you to use the originals when you share this information with others, as the consequences of loss or damage can be severe. It would be better to make a photocopy. These days, identity theft has become a significant concern, so you may wish to black out some information but only on the copies. The Social Security number of living person should never be shared with anyone who does not have an official need for it.

c. Pictures

These can be put in a photo album, mounted on a display board, or made into a computer slide show.

d. Stories

If the stories have not already been recorded in writing, write them down. Even if you have an audio recording, a written record is still important, because audio technology changes over the years. It is entirely possible that you will be unable to find a  player to listen to a digital recording of your great-aunt's story in the future.  This also applies to word processor files - print them out! It's already very difficult to read computer files that were created ten years ago, and nearly impossible to read ones created 20 years ago. A written copy printed on acid-free paper will last for centuries if properly stored, and no special equipment is needed to read it.

e. Share this with your group/club/school

If you are working on this honour as a group, you can all get together and share your information. You can also host a get-together and share your personal history then.

12. Visit a City/County Library – Genealogy Section (or other Genealogy Research Center) and write a paragraph on your visit including:
a. Types of information available
b. Any new information you discovered about your family

Not all public libraries have genealogy sections, but some have tremendous collections. Call or visit your local public library and ask the librarians. They should be able to either tell you where their genealogy section is, or tell you the nearest library with a genealogy section and whether you need to register to access the archives.

Once you find the genealogy section of a local library, you should plan to spend a couple of hours there doing some research. Bring a notepad and a pen (or a notebook computer) with you and dig in.

If you are planning to bring a group of Pathfinders to the library, be sure to call ahead of time and let them know of your plans. They may be willing to present an orientation session.

The types of information that will be available will vary from one library to another, but you might expect to find any of the following:

  • Family histories
  • Census records (Federal and State, including other states)
  • City Directories
  • Passenger Lists
  • Military Records
  • Land Ownership Maps
  • Native American Records
  • African-American Records (including slave records)
  • Online Databases
  • Local Histories
  • DAR Records
  • Church Records
  • Early Newspapers
  • Vital Statistics Records (birth, marriage, and death)
  • Tax Rolls
  • Voter Registration Data
  • Conviction and Incarceration Data

In many cases, the library will prohibit the making of photocopies of these records because of their fragile nature. However, many have programmes in place to microfilm or digitize their collections. Before making any copies, check with the library staff. If possible, you should print copies from the digital or microfilm resources. Many libraries will charge a small fee to cover the costs of duplicating, so be prepared for that.

13. Visit a cemetery and learn by copying the headstones:
a. The names of three different families
b. The dates of birth and death for these family members
c. The average length of life for these family members

Consider completing this exercise when doing the next requirement.

Finding the names of three different families will be relatively easy, assuming that people from at least three families are buried there. Simply walk the grounds reading the headstones, and pretty soon you will notice a surname that gets repeated. Write that down, and then start taking note of birth and death dates. Then keep looking. More names will become apparent.

In order for an average lifespan to have any meaning, you will need data on at least eight or so individuals. Be careful not to discard data because it does not suit your preconceived ideas. This means you will record infant deaths as well as the deaths of the aged.

Determine the age at death of each individual by subtracting the date of birth from the date of death. This is most easily accomplished by use of a spreadsheet programme. To do this, create four columns, and label them Name, Birth, Death, and Age. Date for the first three columns should be entered in directly. Enter dates in the form:


Be sure to enter a four-digit year, especially if it occurred more than 50 years ago. For the age column, assuming you are on row 2, enter the formula


This will make the spreadsheet calculate the person's age at death. Once you've entered that into one cell, you should be able to copy it into the others (select the cell, type ctrl-C - then highlight a column of cells and type ctrl-V. This will paste it into each highlighted cell and automatically adjust the cell references for you). The result should look something like this:

1 Name Birth Death Age
2 E.G. White 11/27/1827 7/16/1915 87.63
3 James White 8/4/1821 8/6/1881 60

Once you have the data entered for several families, you can average the ages per family using the spreadsheet's =AVG() function.

14. Check with your local cemetery officials to learn how upkeep is done and ask them how you can help with clean-up in a cemetery in your area. Then do it!

[Non-UK: This is one area where phone books are still better than an Internet search. Few cemeteries maintain an online presence, but most are listed in the white pages of a local telephone directory. If you have not chosen a cemetery for this requirement, look in the yellow pages and choose one. If you already have one in mind, check the white pages.] BUC Clubs: Most cemeteries now have an online presence, even if through the local authority website.  Check them out online, then make a phone call to find out how they do maintenance. You may be better off choosing a small cemetery, as they do not generally retain a large force of groundskeepers. You may wish to call several cemeteries before committing to helping one in particular.

Large active cemeteries may not welcome your help but a smaller inactive cemetery may never get attention. Try checking with the city/county council office [Non BUC: or the agency that licenses cemeteries in your State/Province or region]. You might also check with church-run sites. Some cemeteries hold an annual picnic at which they collect funds from the people who have families buried there. In years past these picnics were called "graveyard cleanings" because the people would actually assemble to mow, weed, and clean the grounds. At lunchtime they would take a break and eat a potluck picnic. Later, this practice changed so that the people would contribute money for the cemetery's upkeep, but the picnic aspect was retained.