How to Compile a Family Tree Chart

Ever since you were a kid, you’ve been fascinated by the stories your grandparents told you about their experiences during a different kind of life. They’d tell you about their first-generation immigrant parents, and the extended family back home in your ancestral country. You’ve seen the pictures, and have been told that you look so much like they did when they were your age. 

If this sounds like you, a family tree could be a great exercise to continue the exploration into your heritage. It’s a visual display of your family connections and lineage, as far back as records allow. If you can get your hands on records, they provide a timeline of births, marriages, and deaths– your family history, right there on paper. 

How should you go about making your own family tree chart? Read on for our quick guide. 

Before You Begin

Family tree charting can be a tedious task. Before you begin, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • How far do you want to go back in your family tree chart? 
  • Who in the family can you use as a resource? 
  • What type of specifics do you want to include on the chart?
  • Do you want to add pictures of your ancestors?
  • Where did your ancestors live?
  • Did they move to new places? 
  • Where are your ancestors buried?
  • What do you already know? 
  • Do you want to start with yourself backward or map out a family tree chart template from the oldest generation downward?

Once you have an idea of your direction, you can begin to map out the design of the family tree chart, as well as the best tool to do so. You might even get a head start on your research!

Draw Your Family Tree Chart

Now that you have gathered your initial data, it’s time to make a family tree. We recommend these general steps in order to stay organized: 

Create an Outline

How do you want to outline your family tree? Is it easiest to use a family tree chart template or a printable family tree chart? Will you be creating this by hand, or digitally? 

Once you have the structure you’d like to use, map out an outline of the connections that you know. If you’re mapping the tree by hand, avoid writing it in pen. You might discover some information that needs to be changed before you finish! 

Locate Records

Access vital records through state and church archives, as well as resources through the library, genealogical, or historical society. Federal and state census records can also provide personal facts. The courthouse, city registries, and online newspapers can help you sort out important events. 

Add Information to Each Leaf of the Tree

Once you have a blank family tree chart ready to go, it’s time to fill in the information you’ve worked so diligently to locate. Each family member should be represented by a box connected by lines to represent how they’re related or connected. Include any important dates  

Never Forget Where You Came From 

Sharing your family tree chart with your family is one of the most rewarding aspects of the project. When created as a collaboration, who knows what you can discover about your ancestors! 

For more fun activities, check out the rest of our blog. You might find something for the whole family! 

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