Family Tree Diagram

Create a Family Tree Diagram

Creating a family tree diagram or other visuals can bring your search to life and make your findings more interesting to your family and others you share with. A family tree will place your ancestors on a relational plane with others that lived before and after them, and at the same time they did.

Designing a family tree can be a solitary pursuit or it can be a family project involving everybody in your household. A family tree can have your family information written on prepared pedigree forms you find online, or you can get as colorful or creative with your diagram as you have time to be. There are families who have made their family tree a real part of their household by doing a mural on a wall and adding "leaves" to the tree as their research progresses and names are added.

The Basics of Creating a Family Tree Diagram

Regardless of how you display your family tree these are the basics of creating a family tree diagram:

  • Gather all the information you have on your family, including names, ages, marriages, births and adoptions.
  • One way of doing it is to start with yourself. Your ancestors will "branch out" over your head in preceding generations, and your children and grandchildren will "branch out" from your feet downward.
  • It usually shows female family members with their names and info in a circle; it shows males in a square. If you have information on someone but don't know their gender, you can use a diamond. Some people add color to their diagrams instead of using squares or circles.
  • A horizontal line connecting two people denotes marriage. Two horizontal parallel lines denotes common law marriage or living together outside marriage.
  • A vertical line proceeding downward from a marriage relationship can begin an area to list children from the marriage.

Creating your family tree diagram can be a fun activity that will display the fruits of your research for others to see and appreciate.  You may even inspire a 'family historian in waiting' to begin research on his/her family tree after seeing your diagram. 

To get the details for making a family tree, it is likely that you will need to ask some of your older relatives  for names, birthdays, and the specific connections between your 2nd great grandparents and their nuclear families. Once you get back as far as everyone remembers, then you’ll probably have to do some more serious digging. Take the time to really talk to your grandparents, or even your parents, about their families. Find out where they lived and what they were involved in.