How Visuals Can Help
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 that you share with. A family tree will visually place your ancestors on a relational plane with others that lived before and after them, as well as at the same time that 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 down on prepared pedigree forms that 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.
Regardless of how you ultimately decide to display your family tree these are the basics of creating a family tree diagram:
- Gather all of 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.
- Female family members are usually shown with their names and info in a circle; males are shown in a square. If you have information on someone but don’t know their gender, you can use a diamond. Some people choose to add color to their diagrams instead of using squares or circles.
- A horizontal line connecting two people denotes marriage. Two horizontal parallel lines usually denotes common law marriage or living together outside of 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.