How To Get Started on Your Family Tree

Back in time when I was still in pre-school, I remember that we had an activity making our own family tree. Of course, the activity required us to draw a tree, bring pictures of our parents and siblings, and then glue the cut out photographs to the drawing later on. That was all I thought of family trees. Growing up, I found out later on that a family tree is actually a way to trace your roots, beginning from the oldest generation to the present. Back in the time of my high school days, I could only remember a handful of classmates who had family trees that date back as far as a century. Fortunately, with the advent of information and technology, creating a family tree is now easier. If you're interested in creating one for your family, here's a couple of tips I have for you.

  • Gather information. You need not go very far or use the Internet right away. You can start your research in your own home. Start with your own parents, and ask them to recall the names of their grandparents and great-grandparents if possible. If you are lucky to have parents with a good memory, perhaps they can also tell you about some dates that mean a lot to your family, like dates of marriages, birthdays and deaths. If in doubt, you can always check on old files--birth and death certificates, marriage certificates as well, last will and testaments, land deeds, etc. Old photographs are excellent sources of information as well. Back then, people were fond of writing dates and sometimes names at the back of pictures. You can gradually extend your research by also interviewing other relatives.
  • Take note of all the information you can find, and write it all down. There are forms that you can actually use to make it easier for you to sort out the information later on. You can try a family chart or genealogy forms, both of which can be generated from the Internet through various genealogy sites.
  • Feel like you have too much information? There is no such thing as having too much information when creating a family tree. Once you start to become overwhelmed, then it's time to start creating your family tree. Start with one last name. You can opt to begin with the patriarch or the matriarch with the same last name and work it out from there, adding in important details such as their date of birth, marriage and death. You can opt to move horizontally, supposing you have the names and information of the siblings of either the matriarch or the patriarch. If not, start adding names of the succeeding generations. Other details about the said ancestor, such as school records, achievements, cause of death, etc., could also be added much later on.

Creating family trees is tedious but interesting. Just be prepared for what you're about to find later on while researching your family history. Have fun!


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