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Branching Out: How to Do a Family Tree the Right Way

Looking to get in touch with your roots? If so, you should consider building a family tree. Building a family tree will not only acquaint you with your ancestors, but it will also help you discover where you came from. 

Looking to get started? Wondering how to do a family tree? Then read on. We’ve got all the information below.  

Get it Down on Paper

First thing’s first: you need to get started. To make the endeavor official, make sure to get it down in writing. You can use coupon codes to buy cheap supplies online. 

Then, start the tree with the youngest generation currently in existence. This could be your brothers and your sisters, your sons and your daughters, your grandchildren, and maybe even your great-grandchildren. 

Once the tree has become a visual reality, you’ll be inspired to carry on with it. If you only build the tree in your mind, you’re bound to become overwhelmed and quit before you start. 

Work from Generation to Generation

One of the mistakes people make when building family trees is connecting individuals from distant generations. For instance, someone might connect him or herself to a relative who fought in the Civil War. While this can be a fun and exciting exercise, it can also cause the process to become unfocused. 

Instead, it’s best to work from generation to generation. Start with the youngest generation, then add their parents, then add their parents’ parents and so on and so forth. 

Not only will this method help you to build up steam, but it will also prevent familial inaccuracies from distorting substantial amounts of your project. After all, if you get one relative wrong, you could start to add his or her relatives, despite the fact that they’re not actually members of your family. 

Be methodical in your approach. Don’t move back to the next generation until you’re 100% positive about the generation you’re currently working on.  

Ask Around

You’ll have no problem establishing the most previous generations of your families. However, at some point, you’ll hit a brick wall. At this point, you’ll have to start researching. 

While there are all types of research you’re going to have to do, the best way to get started is to ask around to other family members. While it’s not a certainty, other members of your family could have knowledge of distant relatives.

This is particularly true of older relatives. After all, your grandfather is likely to remember his grandfather as well as other relatives from his grandfather’s generation. 

Check the Scrapbooks 

Once you’ve asked around to other members of your family, you’re advised to start searching for paper documents. Often times, these documents can be found in scrapbooks. As such, you should gather your scrapbooks as well as scrapbooks belonging to other members of your family. 

Family scrapbooks are bound to contain a bevy of names and clues. Not only can these names and clues be found on pictures but on other entities that have been placed in the scrapbooks (ie. birth certificates, letters, diaries, etc.). 

Use the Internet

Once you’ve dug through old scrapbooks and other such items, you’re advised to take to the internet. After all, the internet is the most powerful research resource the world has to offer. 

There are a number of different ways to use the internet in genealogical searches. The most basic method is to utilize search engines like Google. Simply typing in a family member’s name could set you on a path that leads you to a bevy of unknown relatives. 

Another method is to use specific genealogical websites. These websites include  Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org, to name just two. 

Get to Your Local Genealogical Center

Did you know that there are genealogical centers located in different places throughout the United States? These centers are home to a bevy of genealogical information, and could very well have information that pertains to your family tree. 

To find one in your area, simply type “genealogical center in [your state]” into Google or another search engine. The search will turn up all existing genealogical centers, allowing you to choose one that’s close to your location. 

Note, whereas some genealogical centers will only contain local information, others will contain information from all over the world. 

Hit the Road

Once you’ve visited your local genealogical center, you will be hard-pressed to find other information in your area. This is where the real fun begins. It’s now time to hit the road and travel to locations where your ancestors might have lived. 

Using clues from your research, compile a list of viable locations. Then, travel to those locations methodically, visiting their libraries, their churches, their courthouses, and any other organizations that might have pertinent information on your ancestors. 

This part of the process is the most fun, as it allows you to travel to new places and experience cultures that your ancestors may have experienced. 

Publish! 

While in the process of traveling to different locations, you should think about publishing your tree. Not only should you show it to your direct family members, but you should also consider posting it online. 

There are a number of sites on which you can publish your family tree. These include but aren’t limited to Ancestry Member Trees, RootsWeb WorldConnect, and The Next Generation. Whereas some of these are free to use, others of them cost money. 

By publishing your family tree online, you might be able to connect with others who are building their family trees. Who knows; you might even end up meeting a distant relative! 

That’s How to Do a Family Tree

There it is, that’s how to do a family tree. As long as you follow the tips reviewed above, you’re sure to build an accurate and comprehensive timeline of your ancestors. 

Looking for other miscellaneous information? Our website has you covered. Browse our other articles now! 

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