T is for Family TREE

24 April 2019

Most of us at some point had homework to do where the task was to draw your family tree. Oooh how exciting! Going home to ask your parents who their great-grandparents were, great-great-grandparents, cousins, more cousins…ah, some of us had the problem of having too many cousins! There is also the issue of maybe not having enough family. The homework is also due tomorrow morning because your ten-year-old self left it last minute, help! In this blog, we’ll address the types of family tree you can create, how a family tree works (you know once it gets to your second cousin, things get confusing) and of course where to start, because sometimes, it’s not that obvious!

How does it all work?

The answer to this is pretty obvious, you just connect the lines until they trace back to you. However, once we enter cousinship, it can get very tricky. Seeing it there is one thing, but actually knowing what that means is another, and adding 20 or so cousins in the mix doesn’t exactly help you see things clearly! We found this video by Business Insider pretty helpful in explaining how this all works. It helps you to breakdown who all your cousins are, so you should end up with something a bit like this ‘Cousin Explainer’ courtesy of a Reddit post that went viral:

The Cousin Explainer Family Tree Flow Chart

The great thing about having cousins (including lots of them) is that they help to expand your family tree!

Where do I start?

When people ask this question they usually mean “Which line should I go down first, or the furthest?” Well, which line are you more intrigued by? Which line do you have the most information on or access to information on? Of course, some of us are naturally curious and want to delve deeper into what we know less of, but it’s good to start with what you know.

So, I know what to go down first, but where should I stop? Well if you’re drawing out your family tree for a piece of homework, it would probably be best (and more aesthetically pleasing) if you went down both paternal and maternal lines and stop when you’ve had enough (i.e. at your 3x great-grandparents perhaps?). If it’s out of pure interest and curiosity, again, start with what you know and go from there! It really doesn’t matter how far you go on any side, as long as you have fun doing it and have a large piece of paper to hand (A0 maybe, if you’ve got mountains of family history research to sift through!).

Let’s get creative!

So now you know where to begin on your tree, it’s time to have fun with it!

You aren’t restricted to the typical family tree like this:

Family Relations Chart

With the first and last names written down of course.

If you have access to a photo album, maybe think about photocopying the pictures and putting faces to those names, a little bit like this:

Family tree

Some people have their family trees as an actual tree, which looks rather stunning:

Realistic tree family tree

Different designs include ones such as this hourglass family tree:

Hourglass family tree diagram

And if you’re feeling particularly ambitious (and patient), you could try creating a family tree of finger types!

Fingerprints classification diagram

Put in nicknames (if they have any) just to make it more personal to you, or include fun facts about each ancestor and yourself of course! That way you can create a family story rather than just a tree.

It’s something fun to refer back to!

It is also worth noting you don’t need to make this by yourself. Ask other family members if they’d like to get involved or you can ask for their help.

So now you know where to start and how it all works, why not create one for yourself? If you’re looking for some more inspiration and fancy learning more about your family history first, why not have a look our tips and tricks for family history research. Enjoy!

You can read the next blog for the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge, U is for ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ here.

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