LIFE & LEGACY® Family Tree Instructions

Thank you for assuring Jewish tomorrows with an endowment through the LIFE & LEGACY® program.

Here are some tips to help you complete your family tree.


Write down what you know, ask family members to fill in the gaps, and find pictures and documents. Visit libraries and online genealogy sources to search for census records, news stories, land deeds, and other documents that can verify your ancestry.

Don’t be discouraged if you can only go back a few generations. Some people may say that they’ve traced their lineage all the way to Adam and Eve, but in reality, it is very hard to find accurate records older than a few hundred years. This is because many records have been destroyed in fires, floods, acts of war, and simple negligence. Some areas of the world were better at keeping and preserving records than others, so the records available to you will depend on where your family came from.


Compile all of the information you have and create an outline. Start drawing from yourself (or your child/children) to your ancestors, or start with the oldest ancestor you know about and trace forward to you.


If you want your family tree diagram to be useful to other members of your family, keep it simple so the information can be easily scanned and digested. Each level of the tree represents a single generation so it is easy to trace relationships.


Names: Enter full names when possible. Use maiden names for women (leaving off their married names; these are implied by any spouses they have in the tree).

Dates: List dates in dd mmm yyyy format (for example 25 Dec 1928). If you’re unsure of the day or year, use the words before, after, or about before the date. You can also use ca. (circa) to indicate an estimate.

Places: Record as much information as possible about where an event happened. List the smallest level first and the largest level last (for example: “Venice, Veneto, Italy”). Put a comma and space between the levels, and include the country. Include all known levels of a place when not all levels are known.


This is the fun part—once you have finished your genealogy chart or family tree diagram, share it with your family members and give them a chance to reflect on their genealogy or learn new family stories. You can also invite them to provide additional information.

Don’t forget about our friends at THE RAUH JEWISH ARCHIVES

From 1989 until 1999, the Archives was supported by the United Jewish Federation (currently the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh), in-kind contributions of the Senator John Heinz History Center and donors. In 1999, Richard E. Rauh created an endowment at the United Jewish Federation Foundation, and the Western Pennsylvania Jewish Archives was renamed Rauh Jewish Archives (RJA). In 2004, through an agreement between the Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Foundation, the RJA Advisory Committee and the History Center, the RJA has become a program of the History Center, with the income from the RJA Endowment at the Jewish Community Foundation has been directed to the History Center to support the work of the RJA.

Eric Lidji, Director
Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives – Senator John Heinz History Center

Stay Informed


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