I’ve written a few posts on getting started with creating your family tree, but something I haven’t really touched on yet is what to actually use for starting your family tree. I started my family tree with notebook paper, which is effective, but does create a bit of confusion particularly when you do not know exactly how everyone is related.
In this post I want to go over some useful free tools, like a free printable family tree chart, which can help you organize your family information to limit the confusion. This way you don’t have to keep asking “how is this person related again?” Sometimes I feel I annoy my mom by asking her the same questions!
Free Printable Family Tree Charts
Family tree charts are available in multiple places online and are mostly all free. In this post I’ll point out where to get some of them from and also how to utilize them to your benefit.
First of all I’ll discuss the importance of having your family tree information on something concrete. We all know that the Internet is not 100% safe and the information we store online is not absolutely secure either against hackers or against man-made and natural disasters. Computer systems fail, people can hack into the files and steal information or corrupt it, natural disasters can occur, and as a result information can be lost.
It is important to safeguard your family tree to prevent having to redo any of your hard work. I recommend backing up your file both electronically and physically. The genealogy websites do allow files to be printed out and at the very least I would recommend printing each family tree chart called a pedigree.
An alternative to this would be to print out one of the many free online printable family tree charts and manually filling the chart out with names, birth dates, death dates, anniversaries and children’s names included. This would save a ton of time when re-entering any lost data should a problem occur.
WikiTree Free Printable Blank Family Tree Charts
I recently wrote a post on WikiTree. You can read all about it here, but within WikiTree is a system for printing various family pedigree charts. I have not found a way to print a blank family tree chart out, but with WikiTree you can print a variety of family trees out in different generational levels.
I have created a new account for the purpose of showing you what it would look like and without adding information it looks like the following:
After you have added information about your family into your WikiTree account, other printable family trees are available including family profile sheets and multi-generational charts.
Other Online Printable Family Tree Sheets
FamilyTreeTemplates.net has a variety of free and low cost printable family tree charts available. Some go to as many as 12 generations and are all free unless you would rather have a customizable version. The website states there are 328 versions available so much to choose from! Below is a sampling of some printable charts available.
DustyDocs.com offers a free printable family tree chart which is also available on Pinterest. I have provided a link to print it out for your convenience.
There are many other printable charts available online for your every need. I chose these few to list because they encompass the most important aspects of beginning research. The simple pedigree chart is really great for easily jotting down names and dates to add to your online family tree at a later time. This will help with your organization and also it serves the dual-purpose of having a backup in case there is a problem with the online file.
Other Useful Tools for Family Tree Research
Once you have your system down for writing out your family tree information, whether it’s through the use of printable blank or filled out family tree pedigrees or simple paper and pen, you’ll want something to start filing these important papers in right away. I utilize the boxes you would use to store important papers in. File boxes you can get at any office supply store, green hanging folders and tabs.
The system you use for filing is whatever works well for you. I have my files set up by surname since I am researching my mom’s side, my dad’s side, my husband’s’s dad’s side and his mom’s side. I have surname files for all 4 names and break down the folders from there.
In the files you’ll want to store the pedigree sheets for each branch of your family along with any important documents you collect. Death certificates, birth certificates, obituaries, newspapers clippings, school records, church records, etc are all important pieces of your family puzzle you’ll want to collect and store for safe keeping.
Having these important documents will also help to restore your online family tree if anything happens causing a loss of information. These documents will help you to easily repair any damage.
Organization Is The Key To success
Staying organized will go along way to keeping your family tree gathering on track. Having printable family tree charts will help your family sections stay together and eliminate the confusion. It will also serve as a great backup system in case of natural or mad-made disasters or any other thing which could cause a loss of your long sought after information.
I also find the family tree pedigree charts help me visualize the connections in the family. For instance, I have multiple Addies in my family. Having the charts helps me to see which specific person I am researching at a given time so as not to confuse them and search the wrong information. This could lead to very frustrating results!
Whichever system you choose, it is just important to keep organization and maintain focus on what you are researching. Having some sort of pedigree charts will help you pick up where you left off when there are intervals between searches due to work, school, or other life activities. Let’s face it…We are all busy with life and remembering exactly where we left off could prove to be difficult. I make notes for myself as well as having all of my documentation. This really helps when I’m switching between branches of my family tree and my husband’s family tree as well.
I hope you have found this information helpful and look forward to assisting you with your journey to find your ancestors. Please leave any comments or questions below and I’ll be happy to get back to you!