How To Start Building Your Family Tree


Tracing your family tree can be a rewarding journey. However, it can also be challenging to know where to start.

Whether you create your family tree freehand or with an intuitive design tool, you should always start with yourself. From here, you can diagram your tree horizontally or vertically.

Start with Yourself

A family tree is a diagram that displays relationships among family members using shapes, boxes, or lines (known as “leaves” on the tree). Each box or leaf represents a different relative. Lines may connect the leaves or link siblings. It’s a good idea to use colored lines or shapes to distinguish between deceased and living family members. It’s also a good idea to include any additional information that helps explain the relationship, such as career or achievements. Visit online resources to know more on how family trees explained in simple words.

Once you’ve compiled all the current information on your family, it’s time to start mapping out the relationships. You can draw a simple chart freehand or use an online family tree maker to make the process more efficient. Either way, you should note the source of each information you’re collecting as you go.

As you work back generation by generation, it’s important to find supporting documents that verify the information you’ve collected from census records and other sources. These include birth or marriage certificates, death certificates, property and tax records, wills, and other legal documents. It’s also a good idea to ask your family members for information that might lead you down new paths in your research. It’s common for a family tree to become an ongoing project as you uncover more evidence and details about your ancestors.

Start with Your Parents

Genealogy research can be overwhelming, so many genealogists start their tree with their parents. This can save time and energy because they already have a foundation to build. Plus, their parents have records that can help them fill in more information on the rest of their family. However, it is important to note that the information in your tree must come from reliable sources. Otherwise, it will be difficult to confirm that your data is accurate.

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The best way to do this is to use a genealogy database that can provide you with sourced data. However, you can start by reviewing your records, like birth certificates and letters from family members. You can also look through photos and other memorabilia that may hold clues. It is recommended to do your research in multiple places and document every piece of information you find, including the source.

Once you have compiled all of the information you have found, centralize it into a single workspace using an intuitive design tool. This will help you visualize the relationships and ancestry you have discovered, and you can quickly edit colors, text fonts, and other stylistic elements that bring your tree to life.

Start with Your Grandparents

Now that you understand who you are go back and find your grandparents. Record their crucial dates, such as birth, marriage, and death. This information will provide a foundation for you to begin tracing their parents.

It’s important to remember that the more distant your relatives are, the more time it will take to find reliable information about them. For this reason, it’s best to focus on ancestors who were alive during the more recent times.

Once you have filled in the basic generations of your family tree, start looking for documents that support (or contradict) what you have found through census records. These include state birth, marriage, death, property and tax records, court documents, wills, employment records, and newspaper clippings.

As you find new information, add it to your tree. Make sure that every fact has a source to avoid adding any errors. Often, you will come across valuable information pertaining to other relatives who are not your direct ancestors, but it is also important to verify these sources. You may uncover helpful clues about your ancestors while researching these other relatives. This is why it’s helpful to have an all-in-one family tree maker that allows you to locate and organize all your new resources easily.

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Start with Your Great-Grandparents

It is best to start with your great-grandparents to build a strong tree. Begin by interviewing your grandparents and gathering as much information on them as possible. This can be done through family history interviews, family records like birth certificates and letters, and newspaper clippings. Be sure to document all of this information and where it came from so you can easily refer back to it as you build your family tree.

Once you have a good idea of your information, organize it into a spreadsheet. This will help you stay organized as you find more information about your ancestors and their siblings. It will also give you a sense of how many boxes to fill in your family tree.

During this time, it is best to keep an open mind and explore all the avenues available to you to find more information about your ancestors. For example, if you haven’t been able to find information on your ancestors due to incorrect dates or names, try searching with different variations of their names and using other search engines.

Once you’ve finished assembling all the necessary data, it’s time to make your family tree. You can use a free family tree template online or create your own diagram in Lucidchart’s intuitive design tool. With a visual workspace and intuitive drag-and-drop tools, creating a family tree that will be meaningful to all your relatives is easy.