Now What? Documenting Remarriages

By Christine Crawford-Oppenheimer and Emily Anne Croom Premium

Marriage Counseling

Q. I was wondering how to document if a family member was married, had children, divorced and remarried. How do you document that in a family tree and be fair to all parties?

A. Most family tree charts show facts about people, with no unfairness. Let’s call your much-married person John Smith. Here’s how two types of charts would handle his spouses:

• A pedigree chart shows one person’s ancestors. If John Smith is an ancestor of person one on the chart, it will show only the wife who is also that person’s ancestor. If person one is John, you can list all his spouses.

• A family group sheet shows one married couple and their shared children, with space to list other spouses. Create one family group sheet for John and his first wife, and another for John and his second wife. If they had no children, you can still make a family group sheet showing their marriage information.

You can print blank pedigree charts and family group sheets from

Most genealogy computer programs and online family tree builders allow you to enter all of a person’s spouses and children, and attach the children to the proper parents. Most programs will also print out charts.

When entering family information, don’t forget to document it by citing sources — in this case, marriage records, divorce records and birth records. You can get in-depth guidance for researching your ancestors’ birth, death and marriage records in our on-demand webinar Vital Records: Researching Your US Ancestors’ Births, Marriages and Deaths, presented by Lisa Louise Cooke.

From the June 2002 issue of Family Tree Magazine

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