Written by Anthony Adolph (pictured, below)
This book was written for children aged from eight to 12, though with the hope that it will make an interesting introduction to genealogy for children of all ages, from eight to more like 100.
PART ONE: PLANTING THE FAMILY TREE
What Granny remembers: oral history
The book starts by explaining how the roots of genealogy lie in oral tradition, as told by the grannies of our cave-dwelling ancestors who lived thousands of years ago, and also as told by our own grannies today. We learn how to remember our ancestry, as told by our own older relatives, Maori style.
Writing down your family story
We then discover how people started writing their genealogies down in Sumerian, Greek and Roman times, how the practise spread to Britain, and why Julius Caesar believed he was descended from a goddess. We learn how to write down our own family information on specially provided Family History Forms.
Making your family tree
Chapter three explains how the Romans started recording their genealogies as diagrams called stemmas, and how these became family trees. We learn how to make family trees in modern and Medieval fashion, and also how to make stemmas, thus resuscitating a practise that has been forgotten in the British Isles for one-and-half thousand years.
Grandpa’s sister’s daughter: who’s who in your family?
We next explore complicated family relationships, from great grandparents to third cousins twice removed, and learn all about ancestral uncles, in particular one of Prince William’s - Dracula! We discover how to store family history information in a Family History Box.
Old photographs: making an illustrated family tree
What did your ancestors look like? This chapter explores old family pictures and photographs, how to find them and what they can tell you. The activity section explains how to make a family tree illustrated with family pictures, so we can see how we do (or don’t) resemble our relatives.
Of mice, drawfs and wizards… family history in stories
Many children's stories, from Harry Potter to The Lord of the Rings, have a solid kernel of family history. We see how genealogy has been important to stories, from the time of Homer and Virgil, and make up an imaginary story and family tree of our own.
PART TWO: GROWING THE FAMILY TREE
Where do I come from?
Family trees show how far our ancestors have travelled. What’s true of Genghis Khan and Princess Pocahuntas is true of us all. The further back you go up the different lines, the more of the world becomes part of your own history. We can show this by making a Star Map, plotting where our ancestors and relatives lived.
The family tree of life
Family trees aren’t just about modern humans: we can trace our ancestry back to the earliest humans, and discover how we are related to Neandertals and the human species nicknamed 'Hobbits'. We can trace our earlier ancestry back through countless generations of small furry mammals and giant labyrinthodonts, like those below, to the very origins of life of Earth. We can even draw our own Family Tree of Life, showing how we are related to our favourite pets.
Family trees through time
Our family trees link us to the past. Events in world history are not big and impersonal: they affected important families like the House of Stuart, and they affect our own families too. We can find out more about this by looking at a Timeline, and personalising it with our own family events.
Life in the past
From schools to loos, work and holidays, money and wars, and religious celebrations of all faiths, the way we live keeps changing, and family history is the best way of learning about this. We can explore this by writing the story of one of our grandparents, focussing on the way they lived.
Names, and what they really tell us
Why do we have names? How can we find out what they mean? We look at first names, middle names, nicknames and surnames from around the world, including some funny surnames like Rabbit and Mole. We can play a game to find out how surnames developed from their origins to what they are today.
Things that we inherit
The way we look is inherited from our parents, but so too are many of the things we say, think, believe and do every day. We can explore the things we inherit, from family heirlooms to tartans, and design our own coat of arms.
Using and understanding old records
All sorts of family papers lie undiscovered on your loft, or those of your relatives. This chapter explains what sorts of records exist, from birth records to memorial cards and wills, and what they can tell us about our ancestors. To learn more about censuses, we can take a special census of our own family, using the form provided.
It’s now time to go out and look at the places where your family used to live and, if you want, to start looking for records in archives. This book is not a guide to research in archives or on-line, because this simply cannot be simplified for younger readers – but it is hoped that any child who has read this book will be inspired to follow up the suggestions for ‘further reading’ and take the next steps on the journey themselves.