This is Part 2 of a story. Click here for Part 1.
Mom and I put names, dates and places onto our family tree using Family Tree Maker software during her visit here.
We were challenged to organize the information when it came to multiple spouses, especially when determining which children belonged to which parents. Matching names with nicknames was also challenging. Figuring out Jr.’s and Sr.’s was a puzzle more than once. Identifying gender was not possible in some cases; in other cases, we were happy for middle names, which helped. The challenges were sometimes met with frustration and required breaks, but more often they were met with laughter.
After grabbing what rest we could at night, we met again in the morning to join forces in connecting the names and matching data. Most of the people whose names we typed have been gone from this earth for many years. One morning I greeted Mom with the question “how are the dead people this morning?” And after a break another day I announced “back to the dead people!” Those comments took her a little by surprise, but most of the dates we entered were long before our time.
There were brief moments when I questioned the importance of what we were doing, but each name typed represented a person’s entire life. Connecting them together gave them importance to our family’s history and to me personally. Making the tree seemed to be a way of validating each person and his/her contribution to the world and to who many of us are today. The photo on the right shows four generations in our family. It was fun to work on this project with my mom and there was an unquestionable sense of accomplishment when all the branches of the tree connected.
When the last of the information was typed in, we were then challenged with how to effectively share it. Ancestry.com allows visitors to view family trees that are designated as public. It also allows members to invite others to view their private tree(s). You can also designate family members to share in editing and adding information. I hesitated for a long time to invest money in ancestry.com, but I believe the advantages it provides are worth the fee it charges, especially after receiving available discounts when simply asking for them. I would recommend using Family Tree Maker alongside of ancestry.com. In my opinion, Family Tree Maker is more readable and easier to work with. Additions or changes can be made on Family Tree Maker and then synced quickly with its online partner with a few simple clicks of the mouse.
Family Tree Maker allows viewers to see individual families on the lower part of the screen while also seeing the overall tree in either the “family view” or “pedigree view” format of the tree on top of the screen which links the connecting person to those up or down the line. When a particular family is shown, a viewer is able to see husband, wife, children and all important dates and places on one screen (see below for another family’s tree as a sample). By using the snipping tool on my computer, I was able to capture the screen in front of me as a picture and send it to interested relatives. I did that for living families in the line and sent them in groups to family members who wanted them. Family Tree Maker and ancestry.com both offer a print option. I will want paper copies as backup but have not yet determined how to make the most of my ink cartridge.
Creating our family tree in this format on the computer was a special time shared with my Mom, and resulted in something that we hope will last for many generations. Using Mom’s knowledge of family and our limited but combined computer knowledge, has placed individuals where they belong in assembled groupings. Those people, both past and present, represent our heritage. They extend throughout the years and are located across the globe, but we are all linked by blood and genetics and personal connections.
I saw dead people, lots of dead people. But they weren’t scary. They were all people from my past, and when they are put together, they form a beautiful tree that represents my family and me.
Don’t miss Part 3, coming soon to a computer near you.