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Genealogy 101. Ascending and descending genealogy, family tree, paternal and maternal lines


" Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history." (Wikipedia)

In Western civilizations, genealogy goes back to middle age when a lot of care was put on recording the European nobility lineages. Genealogy became more broadly used with the creation of family names in Europe, and then in America. Therefore, if there is ‘blue blood’ in your family, you could be able to trace your ancestors back to the middle age.  Otherwise, with European Ancestors, your genealogy could go back up to the XVII century.

  • Ascending genealogy: ascending genealogy is the easiest and the most popular. It identifies all the ancestors of an individual. (their parents, grands-parents, etc.)
  • Descending genealogy: descending genealogy focuses on identifying all the descendents of an individual. (their children, grand-children, etc.)

Family Tree

A Family tree is a visual representation of the ancestors and/or descendents of an individual or couple.  It contains generally for each ancestor or descendent, their first and last names, the first and last names of their spouse, the date and place of their marriage, and other information on their birth/baptism and death/burial. It contains multiple generations. helps you easily transfer family trees you have built elsewher, by allowing to import Gedcom files.

Paternal Line

The paternal line contains all the male ancestors (and their spouse) of an individual, all whom bore the family name, up to the last known ancestor.

Maternal Line

The maternal line contains the mother of an individual and all of her male ancestors (and their spouse), all whom bore her maiden name, up to the last known ancestor.

Genealogical data

  • marriage records: contain first and last names of the spouses, date and place of the marriage; in many cases, contain also, the spouses’ parents first and last names
  • baptism records: contain first and last names of the child, date and place of the baptism, the parents first and last names, and often, the birth date of the child
  • burial records: contain the first and last names of the dead, date and place of the burial; in many cases, contain also the age of the dead an his/her parents first and last names
  • census: contain the family name, first and last names and age of each individual in the household, occupations, civil status, place of residency, religion, etc.
  • migratory documents: contain first and last names, date of arrival, and place of origin
  • other historical documents: phone books, voter's registery, various contracts, newspaper archives, old history books, military roll, are all documents that can help you enrich your family tree and the history of your ancestors.

How to do one’s genealogy

As you begin a genealogy project, a good first step is to ask your family especially your parents and grand-parents, to uncover as much information about your ancestors as possible. Then, go through old documents or photos forgotten in the antic or in shoebox on a top shelf of a remote closet, you may find some ‘genealogical treasures’.

Once this is done, it can be helpful to use some Internet websites. They will help in putting your family history together and building your genealogy. However, you must be careful that the Internet Websites chosen maintain a high quality level of data. Most of them will also provide tools to help you build your family tree.

Finally, reading the actual genealogical records (often available on Internet) will allow you to check and correct any mistakes in your data. helps you easily transfer family trees you have built elsewher, by allowing to import Gedcom files.

Genealogy Internet Services

Genealogy Internet Services may be classified based on different criteria :

  • level of quality control of their data
  • ease of use of their search engines to find the right answer
  • allow to go from a person to their parents with clicks
  • the periods and territories covered
  • the type of data available

There is many Genealogy websites, but very few like Your Folks, have strick control quality of their data, make it easy to find the right information, and allow you to go from a person to their parents with clicks. helps you easily transfer family trees you have built elsewher, by allowing to import Gedcom files.


Genealogy software and web sites allow the creation of Gedcom files. Gedcom is an international standard to help transfer genealogy data. A Gedcom file will contain all the information needed to transfer your tree to The tree you have in your software or on another web site will stay there, but you will also be able to take advantage of all the possibilities offered by, including automatic addition of ancestors and beautiful prints.

Traditional genealogy data sources

Beside the Internet, there are many other sources to find historical data. However, the availability of the information varies a lot based on the territory and the time period. For some regions, all the data have disappeared due to wars, fire or flood.

Birth, marriage, and death records may be found in national archives or some genealogical societies.

Old contracts may also provide valuable information on a family history. They can be found in national archives or government services.

Census helps to locate families and their movements. They are also available in national archives.

Genealogical societies have also many types of historical documents that may help you enrich your family history.

Genealogy services

Once you have build you family tree on Your folks or to help solve difficult cases, you can look into other services to you enrich your genealogy.

  • Genealogical Societies and Government Archives : For the passionate genealogist, we encourage you to join a Genealogical Society. This will allow you to meet and exchange with other genealogy enthusiasts and benefit from their many services. For your genealogy in Quebec, we recommend the Eastern Township Genealogical Society, one of the most dynamic in Canada. A true passionate must at least once visit the national archives. In Quebec, Bibliotheque et Archives nationales du Québec has satellite archives center throughout Quebec and have tons of historical information that can prove helpful.
  • Newspapers Archives and Historical Societies : Many newspaper archives can help bring to life your genealogy. You may encounter stories and historical pictures, and be able to better put in context the life of your ancestors.
  • Social Networks and other Internet Websites : Social networks sites may be useful, and fun for a while. But be careful, and make sure that the information they contain is reliable, and that they do some quality control of their data. If not, you may end up setting back your genealogy with corrupted information.
  • Professional Genealogist and DNA Testing : If you need very specific genealogy services like for an inheritance challenge or for a paternity claim, or if money is no object but you have absolutely no time to spend on your genealogy, you may want to seek the help of a professional genealogist, or from a DNA testing facility.

Other service to assist you

At any time, do not hesitate to contact Your Folks. Our experts are delighted to help our subscribers make the most of our database and other services.

Copyright © 2021 J.T. Recherches inc. | Last update: 2020-12-08