Bloodline and ancestry is a lot more complicated than you may think, especially when no one has even bothered to keep track of it. Years and generations of family history all remain undocumented, which can be very unfortunate during critical circumstances. Fortunately, you can make a difference for you and the generations to come by making your own family tree.
In this article, we’ve provided all the necessary steps and tips for building a family tree, along with a few templates and examples to help you get started.
Here are the key elements to be aware of when creating a family tree:
1. Thorough Planning: Making a family tree is a huge and complex project to invest in. Hence, planning what to do and how you want to do it must be decided upon beforehand. This will build a path that will guide you throughout the process of completing the family tree.
2. Right Level of Complexity: Some family trees are far more complicated than others. This is why it’s important to identify the level of complexity before you conduct the actual search. Not only will this affect the size and design of the family tree, but it will also help you determine what to find.
3. Identifying Your Audience: Though most family trees are created for an internal audience, you need to remember that not everyone knows everything about their loved ones. Before you unknowingly reveal family secrets and other sensitive information, find out who your audience will be and tailor your content according to what they can handle.
4. Well-Defined Scope: Always begin with the basics before branching out to the farthest areas of your family tree. You can tackle information about your mother’s third cousin later, but for now, focus on a single line of ancestors and descendants at a time. It might seem like a slow, grueling process at first, but it’s sure to keep your family tree specific and accurate.
5. A Realistic Deadline: Deadlines are everyone’s worst enemy, but we can’t deny how they have the ability to keep you motivated. Creating a time frame comprised of tasks and milestones will help prevent procrastination from getting the best of you. Revising and polishing can be done toward the end of the process. You can also use a schedule to keep you on track.
Not sure where to begin with your genealogy search? Follow these ten steps to begin.
Step 1. Gather what you already know about your family:
Search your basement, attic, and closets for birth certificates, diaries, photo albums, news clippings, personal letters, and marriage certificates from members of your family. These records can help you gather significant information about your family that may be helpful in making your chart. It’s best to start with your inner circle, or your closest family members, before moving to your relatives and ancestors.
Step 2. Talk to your relatives:
Unfortunately, there might be a few things that were never recorded on paper. And after all the moving over the past years, there’s always a possibility of losing files or misplacing them. Hence, it wouldn’t hurt to ask your parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles about what they know. Dates and other important facts might be helpful, but you might find out a few more things from the childhood stories they share. An interesting trip down memory lane is sure to give you enough juice for your family tree.
Step 3. Put it on paper:
Everything you’ve acquired from your research should be documented on paper. That way, you can point out patterns and areas that require a deeper look into. This can serve as an outline for your family tree which you can develop even further in the succeeding steps.
Step 4. Search the internet:
These days, you can find almost everything on the internet. Although you won’t find much about your great-granduncle, nor anything about your third cousin from your mother’s side of the family, you’ll still find a few useful things for your tree. This is especially possible if you have a famous relative who might have done something great enough to earn a mention in an online publication.
Step 5. Organize information:
Assuming that you now have more data as opposed to when you first started, add it to your chart and make a separate copy of these notes so you can refer to them again in the future. Be sure to organize your newly acquired data accordingly while still maintaining the orderliness of items.
Step 6. Share your research:
Now that you have planted your family tree, don’t be afraid to show it off to people. It’s likely to give you and members of your family an in-depth look of your bloodline. It’s a fun activity that everyone is sure to learn from.
Now that we know the basics of creating a family tree, learn how you can improve your chart with the following tips:
It’s one thing to know how to make a family tree, but when it comes to choosing a suitable format for your tree, which do you use? Here’s a quick guide to some of the most popular charts and diagrams for your family tree:
Creating a family tree can help you track down your relatives from different cities and continents. This gives you the opportunity to find the answers to a few personal or medical questions that could be clouding your mind at this very moment. Perhaps your spouse carries a genetic disease that may be passed on to your children, or maybe you have a close relative who might want to know about your late grandfather’s passing. To put it simply, this allows you to make crucial decisions based on accurate data from your family history.
This would depend on the amount of information you’re left to work with. If you fail to gather a sufficient amount of data due to the lack of accessibility or availability, making a family tree will prove to be a challenge. Apart from an intense level of research, the process also requires patience and commitment to complete. Keep in mind that every bloodline is different, with some being larger and more complicated than most.
Creating a family tree can be a fun adventure of discovery and learning. So with the help of the techniques and templates provided in this article, you can learn a thing or two about where you came from and a few clues as to where you may be headed.