Tracking Patterns and Parallels

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When you research your family’s history it is important to keep track of patterns and parallels that you observe in your ancestors’ lives. By using some of the tools listed here you will be able to keep track of your ancestors and make certain that you have the right people in your family tree.


Using a timeline to keep track of events in your ancestor’s life will help you in your search for your ancestor’s records. If you find that your ancestor is frequently switching from one county to another, during that same time period, you may have a case of two people with the same name. Timelines may also help you realize new record sets that you can search. When you plot each document on a timeline you will be much better able to establish an ancestor’s identity.

Plotting a map:

Plot the locations where your ancestor had records made. Sometimes we assume that just because a record has our ancestor’s name that it is their record. But, when the locations are plotted on a map we discover that the location of a record may be outside the probable area in which our ancestor lived and created records. When used with a timeline mapping can greatly assist your research work.

Mapping also helps to establish associations with other potential relatives. There is a good chance people living close to your ancestor were relatives. When you plot the area around your ancestor’s residence you will be able to see relationships between your ancestor and his or her neighbors.


Using a spreadsheet will allow you to look at several pieces of information about an ancestor at the same time. Spreadsheets are particularly helpful in genealogical questions concerned with the Identity of your ancestor. With the use of a spreadsheet you can look across multiple people’s records and find patterns that you may have missed if you did not use a spreadsheet.