Category: | Genealogy

How To Draw Your Family Tree

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As you are busy collecting information about your family, it can be fun to draw a family tree so that you can symbolize the relationships between everyone. Today, it’s simple to use software to create an amazing art-worthy family tree suitable for framing and displaying, but you can still do it the old-fashioned way if you prefer.

Collect Your Family’s Information

You’ll want to gather together all the information you can, such as your parents’ names, brothers, sisters, half-siblings, adopted siblings and so forth. Include all children and grandparents as far as you can go, as well as aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Write down everything that you can about each of the people and the order in which they arrived in the family. Try to write it down in an orderly fashion so that you can easily keep track. It might help to use 5×7 cards for each person’s information if you’re doing it by hand, or you can do it on the computer using any number of programs like Family Tree Maker:

Include As Much of the Following Information As Possible

If you can, include age, date of birth, date of death, height, weight, medical issues, health habits, addictions, illnesses, where they are from, race, religion, sex, and so forth. This information doesn’t really help you make the family tree as much as it helps you to keep records for your family that they may need to find out more information about even more relatives.

Know the Pedigree Symbols

There are certain symbols you should use that are known throughout the genealogy arena.

Square = Male
Circle = Female
Diamond = Unknown sex
Diagonal line through a symbol = Deceased person
Brackets around a symbol = Adopted
P Inside Symbol = Pregnancy
Number inside symbol = Twins

If you use software, these shapes will be automated. But it helps to learn them. There are even more shapes that symbolize other aspects of life such as miscarriage and loss. You can learn more about the pedigree genealogy symbols from this paper from April 12, 2008, Online National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. publication:

Drawing Your Family Tree

Now that you have the information, it’s time to draw your family tree. You can do it on paper, or you can use software. Software makes it much simpler to do. But another way is to write each person’s information on a 5×7 card as mentioned above, then put them in the right order on poster board with cut-out shapes using construction paper.

The easiest way to build a family tree is to start with yourself, putting yourself in the center, then working your way out with the rest of the family members to fill out the tree. Be sure to have the name, date of birth, and date of death front and center so that it can be seen at a glance.

After you have drawn yourself, add your siblings in the order that they appear. If you’re the oldest, you’ll go farthest to the left; if you’re the youngest, you’ll go farther to the right. Use a horizontal line to connect all the siblings.

Then, put your parents above you and your siblings in the center. Draw lines to connect them to you and your siblings and to each other. You can even symbolize divorce by drawing a diagonal line over the connecting line between your parents. Then you can also add in any half-siblings and step-parents to your tree if you wish.

Start adding in aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. Do the same for your parents. Then add in their parents above them and so forth. Keep going until you run out of information. As you can see, drawing your family tree is just about collecting the information, then putting the information on paper (or computer). Once you get it all organized it’ll be easy to visualize.

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