How to Make a Family Tree


So you have decided to take the responsibility and make a family tree, a tree-like chart that displays the relationship of your family members through time, allowing you to get a better understanding of who you are and where you come from. But instead of making the family tree literally, you would probably like to know how and where to find information about your ancestors to be able to create a chart that dates back centuries. It is a fun thing to do but if you have not done anything similar before, making a family tree may seem a daunting task. It requires quite some time and effort to actually get somewhere, however, it is not as difficult as it may seem at a first glance if you start of well and know where to trace your ancestors. But let’s take one step at a time.

Step 1

Start recording what you already know. Write down information about your family members such as their birthdays, marriages, children, etc. Information your parents can provide you with will probably take you back at least to your great-grandparents.

Step 2

Talk to your relatives, especially the older ones. Too many people cannot forgive themselves for not talking to their aunt Mary while she was still alive. Be sure to take notes when talking to your relatives and be prepared for some inconsistencies, especially when it comes to dates. However, the information your relatives can give you will save you lots of time for tracing your ancestors in birth and death certificates, marriage registers, military records, immigration records and other valuable genealogical sources.

Step 3

Organise information you have gathered from talking to your family and relatives, and focus on one side of your family. Most people choose to follow the male line because it is easier to find ancestors if you do not have to deal with maiden names. However, keep in mind that spelling of some surnames has changed over time. Also, it is highly important to determine who is who in order to avoid tracing the “wrong” line.

Step 4

If you want your family tree to reach back to the Middle Ages, you will have to go through birth, death, marriage and similar registers using the information you have gathered by talking to your family and relatives. These registers hold lots of valuable information which will help you develop your family tree further. For example, your great-grandfather’s birth certificate reveals who were your great-great-grandparents, full and maiden name of your great-great-grandmother, etc.

Step 5

Double check every new information you find about your ancestors in order to make sure that the people you found are really your ancestors. At the same time, organise the gathered information into a family tree chart. You can use one of many specially designed software programmes many of which are available for free online.