How to Begin Your Rooted Family Tree™
(To be read before sealing The Ark to the Future)

Genealogy is, of course, concerned with the study of one's past. The Rooted Family Tree is an entirely new kind of family tree that peers into the future as well as into the past. It is "rooted" in the relationship of the direct-line ancestors (the "roots") of the generation around whom the tree is organized and their descendants (the "branches"). Structurally, this presents a bit of a problem because it combines an organizing principle that is rigid with one that is fluid.

With each succeeding generation, a person's position in his or her family changes (today's child is tomorrow's parent, today's parent is tomorrow's grandparent, and so on). For this reason, it is necessary to designate a particular generation around which to organize the tree. We have designated that generation the "axial" generation. The axial generation in the Rooted Family Tree is the person or persons who comprise the youngest generation in your family. Usually, this means the children of the individual or couple who is filling out the Ark. If you have children, they would be the axial generation. If you have grandchildren, they would be the axial generation.

The "roots" section is concerned only with the direct-line ancestors of the axial generation, and therefore will not include aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, or nephews. This section reaches back only as far as the great-grandparents of the axial generation. If you have information that predates that generation, then you should insert it on the reverse side of this sheet in the space indicated. The branches of the tree, which will be filled out in the future, will, of course, include aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Begin your family tree at the bottom of the page by inserting information on the line indicated for great-grandparents. Place the wedding dates in the smaller boxes, and the vital information (first and last names, middle initial, and birth and death dates) in the larger boxes. Continue up the roots until you have completed the information for parents. Next, from the section of labels headed "Axial Generation," select one label for each person in that generation, and, after inserting the information, position the labels on the line indicated, leaving an equal amount of space between each label.

If your family history includes multiple marriages and/or stepparents, and if you choose to include that information, then insert the appropriate labels. Stepsisters and stepbrothers should be positioned within the same generation, with a connecting line to indicate their parentage.

You should collect all your data and write it on a piece of scrap paper before you commit it to the actual family tree. Also, it is a good idea to write in pencil on the tree or label, and then trace over your letters with a permanent acid-free marker. If you are unable to establish an actual date, then indicate your doubt with a question mark (e.g., "1898?") or with the abbreviation for "circa"
(e.g., "c. 1952").

How to Update Your Rooted Family Tree
(To be read after opening The Ark to the Future)

At the time this was written, just before the turn of the millennium, the study of genealogy had become extremely popular. The explosion in the use of the home computer and the Internet made it possible to research one's heritage from the comfort of home. The search for one's "roots" does more than satisfy idle curiosity; it is also a very real way of understanding oneself. It was the goal of your ancestors who created this Ark to give you an intimate look into their personalities. This unique family tree is intended to be a snapshot of your family, from the perspective of what is known as the axial generation. The tree reaches back to that generation's great-grandparents and forward to their grandchildren.

As the individual reading this document, you are responsible for updating your family tree. Before proceeding, carefully read the directions on the opposite page. If your ancestors followed the directions correctly, you will find several labels enclosed on which you can write vital data on individuals. Begin by placing a wedding label from the section of labels marked “Axial Generation” directly above the names of those individuals from the axial generation who were married. Insert the vital information on the spouse and the wedding date. Next, select a label from the section headed “Descendants” and place the offspring of each union on the succeeding line, in close proximity to their parents. Because the number
of unions and offspring may vary, you may need to draw a connecting line for clarity, or attach additional sheets of paper to each side of the page, duplicate the blank labels, and expand the tree as necessary.

Once it is completed and updated, your Rooted Family Tree may either be displayed as a work of art or returned to the time capsule.