Most of us were fortunate to have been born into families and parents who were ready to start one, making us feel what home was supposed to feel like and raised us into people who reflected the older generation’s physical, mental and probably also emotional characteristics. Some of us weren’t so lucky, having to live in countries that upheld centuries-old traditions that sometimes didn’t fit the kind of world we now live in.
So much struggle, and all in the name of the family. How many times have we been told to do this and that because it is what our lineage demanded of us? Then again, weren’t you just, like so many others, the slightest bit curious about where you came from? If so, it might be a good idea to trace your family through a family tree and prepare to find out some pretty interesting things along the way. But first, start with these elements:
1. Generation: Embarking on a personal project to trace your bloodline also means finding out just how back you want to to take it and how many generations you want to present. Depending on the form or shape your family tree will take, you can begin drawing a line from yourself or the youngest member of your family down to the oldest generation. Others often do it vertically or horizontally but don’t forget that the further you want to go, the more challenge and work it’s gonna take you to complete it.
2. Names: This can get overwhelming when you start researching and listing down the names of great-aunts and uncles who lived in the Civil War because there might not be enough data about them on the city’s or your family records’ archives if you need to verify their real names, although you can still check with local offices and your grandparents’ house for a start.
3. Birth Dates: Having your earliest ancestors and great, great grandparents down to the very last living or current members of your family listed can get tedious and like we mentioned, overwhelming. As with getting names right, date of birth are important and needs to be accurate if you’re serious about this task so it’s really wiser to just include what you can manage, no matter how tempting it is to have a Laura Ingalls-Wilder family tree.
A family tree is a good representation of your family and would make it easier for members to understand if it is designed in a way that helps them distinguish which member is which and discover some pretty interesting things about their past along the way. Creating one doesn’t have to be complicated as it can be simple to have one that begins with the head of the family tracing down to the rest of the pack.
Follow these steps as your guide:
1. Decide what you want to include and how much: You can start the outline by deciding how much you want to put and how many generations you can present then draw a line from your name or from the oldest generation down the present. A family tree usually has each person represented by a box or, a circle or a photo with lines connecting each member’s relationship to the rest. You may also want to add descendants or make them your starting point.
2. Put important information to identify family members: Aside from names, you can include a fact or two about the family member to help you and the others remember something significant that they did or how one aunt or uncle differ from the other. For better organization and to make your family tree easy to understand, try separating each generation by lines or represent them by layers.
3. Define your purpose: Before embarking on a project to create a family tree, you should be clear and know exactly why you’re doing this. If no other person in your family have thought about having a family tree for your own record at home, now is a good time to involve your mom, dad’s siblings, cousins or even relatives you rarely see by asking them relevant questions about family members that are no longer with you or ancestors especially when you have no other way of knowing. It could also end up to be a really fun and great experience for the whole family.
Most of us never had to wonder where we came from. Or don’t we? It actually depends on what answer satisfies you, because most of the time, we’re contented with tracing our roots just up to our grandparents. That’s it. But how would it be, if you didn’t stop there? Try these tips for creating a family tree that will help you learn more about your heritage:
Genealogists use different types of family tree charts when they study and research bloodlines but you don’t have to be as specific and just choose any of the most common types of a family tree below depending on which one you think would fit the size or type of family you have:
There is no standard size for a family tree but if you want to have copies printed, it’s best to go with A4 & US Sizes or any of these: 16 x 20″, 18 x 24″, or 24 x 36″.
Customize the tree to fit your family. We’re not asking you to squeeze everyone in but your tree don’t have to be the same as any other boring series of boxes that can pass for a family tree but barely just. You’re free to use templates and add color as well as some fun shapes. You’re not being restricted to the family tree of your grade school homework.
Yes and no. Decide on the form it will take. Ask yourself if it’s much better to have a simple family tree that literally takes on the form of a tree for everybody to refer to at home, or if your prefer to have a more organized one, complete with boxes with connecting lines.
You may want to get creative by having step-parents included and adding a little color to the tree, or perhaps, using the caricature of your ancestor’s faces if you have the time and the resources to do so. It’s easy to get carried away when you have collected a good amount of information regarding your family’s history but try not to include too much, otherwise your tree won’t mean much if it’s not accurate. Lastly, have fun with the experience and make sure to learn a lot from all the digging that comes with finding out your family’s history.