Have you ever stopped and thought about your family?
No, not how much you love them. Rather, have you thought about where your family comes from?
You may have heard a few stories from older generations. Perhaps even seen some pictures of older family members.
But there’s usually always a gap in the family history. What if we told you there’s a fun and exciting way you can start to learn more about your common ancestors?
Yep, we’re talking about a genealogy chart: a family tree. Keep reading to learn how you can make one.
What Is a Family Tree?
A family tree is a diagram that shows various familial relationships.
It is typically made in the form of a chart that spans several generations. Fun fact: a 13 million person family tree was once created by scientists!
Family trees typically follow the same template. There is a bracket going from parents to offspring to show the relationship and a horizontal line indicating marriage.
These relationships can then be positioned vertically or horizontally. You could also get creative with it and draw it in the shape of an actual tree! It is totally up to your taste and vision.
Benefits of Making a Family Tree
Making a chart to understand the family better is a popular activity with both kids and adults. And there are many benefits of making a family chart too.
Let’s take a look at some of them below:
- Explore your family roots and uncover new family facts through research
- Prove inheritance to settle arguments or clear up a hazy past
- Create a work of art that will be appreciated for generations to come
- Complete a school project and teach the little ones new words like ancestors, roots, and genealogy
- Fill holes in your medical history to learn more about passed down conditions or risks
As you can see, family trees can be used for a variety of purposes! You can choose to make one for whatever your ultimate goals are.
What to Include in Your Family Tree
Ready to get started on making your genealogy chart? Most family trees have common elements, irrespective of how simple or complex they are.
One absolute essential is to include at least three generations of family members. Your tree would look pretty short if it were just a couple and their children! You can then branch out to include grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles.
Relatives by marriage are also an option.
Another “must” to include is dates of birth and death. These dates should show up for context and to understand timelines.
Other than these two options, there are some ‘good to haves’ you could include as well. Here are a few ideas:
- Careers: More complex trees may include jobs for each family member
- Locations: This is a great way to contextualize your family members, irrespective of where they are situated in the world
- Achievements: You may also want to include fun facts like honors, awards, or hobbies within your family tree
This should give you a good starting point for your chart. And remember, you can add anything else that’s of relevance to you!
Tools to Create a Family Tree
Family trees can be a lot of work. There will likely be a lot of missing gaps that you need to fill in. Luckily, there are some tools and strategies you can use to make the job easier.
Talk to your relatives and ask them about names, ages, dates, and timelines. Look at old family photos and (or possibly a family heirloom) to aid your research.
Taking a DNA test is a great way to get a concrete answer about your ancestry, especially if you don’t have family members around to fill in the blanks.
You could also look at census records, old newspapers, and city publications to learn more.
Once you start gathering the information, begin putting pen to paper. Create a rough mental map diagram so you know how big you want your family tree history to be.
You could do this by drawing it out physically. Or else, opt for a digital version as it makes for more effortless saving and sharing. There are many templates online so that you could take a look at some of them for inspiration.
Creating a family tree is an ongoing process. Very rarely is it completed in a couple of days or even a week. To ensure you don’t lose track of the critical information, be sure to record the information you’re collecting.
Excel is a great place to track your project. You will want to follow names, pictures, dates, timelines, and relationships all in one place, so you don’t forget later on! Set up different tracking metrics for the various moving parts.
Fast and Affordable DNA Testing for Your Family Tree
A family tree is more than a pretty chart. It is a great way to document critical personal histories. You’ll also be able to solidify research on family origins and pass it on for generations to come!
We feel for you if you’re struggling with collecting all the information you need to get started.
That’s why at Health Link, we created simple and accurate DNA tests to get you started on learning more about your family! From paternity and grandparentage tests to twin DNA and prenatal DNA tests – we have it all.
Click here to learn more about the DNA test process today!