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Family Trees-Know Your Family, Know Yourself

Updated on June 1, 2012

A family is a basic unit of society. For most, it is composed of just parents and children. But in reality, it is more than since it includes uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins and the like. A good way of presenting the family relationships is through a family tree.

A family tree is a diagram that shows the ancestry or pedigree of a person. There are several formats but the most common is the one showing the older generations on top portion, which is the wider part and the younger generations at the bottom portion, which is the narrow part. The resulting image is similar to that of a tree, hence the chart name family tree.


To come up with a family tree, familiarization with genealogy helps. Genealogy is the study of families and tracing their lineage as well as recording their history. It is because coming up with the family is not just filling names on the chart but it is more of knowing the stories that come with each family member.

It would be a nice story to tell your grandchildren that their great granduncle Oscar also loved playing baseball and that he used to play in the major league. Also, it would be interesting to know that there is surely nothing surprising about having a child who likes to become an artist when you know that your great grandmother is an artist herself.

More than the stories, tracing one's history is also a big help when taking medical history into account. It makes one aware of illnesses that you might be prone to or risk of having because genetically transmitted disorders are common like diabetes, hypertension and hemophilia.


A family tree can be traced in many ways. First, it can be traced in terms of a person's ancestors or in terms of a person's descendants. Another way is to trace according to patrilineal descent or matrilineal descent. The former is tracing the surnames of the male-line descendants whereas the latter is tracing the surnames of the female-line descendants.

The family tree of Queen Victoria and her children is one that describes its descendants which is most of the royal family of Europe. This is a notable family tree not only in history and sociology, but also in biology especially genetics, because members of their family is afflicted with hemophilia, a rare condition in which the clotting of the blood is not normal. Though not everyone is a victim to this bleeding disorder but a number of them are gene carriers.


A typical family tree basically uses an organizational chart format, with shapes to be filled with names of members of the family. The common format is the "tree" format, where it would look like a triangle or an inverted triangle depending on the theme (ancestors or descendants). Examples of this charts have already been introduced earlier in the article, where the lineage are arranged in vertically.

Another way of presenting the family lineage is placing the individual from which the tracing of the family history begins, at the left side. Then the ancestors or the descendants of the person is placed on the right.

Concentric circles are also used to present family ties in a diagram called the fan chart. The individual from whom the ancestors or the descendants is traced is placed at the center and each concentric circle is assigned a generation related to the individual by affinity or consanguinity.

Family Tree Software and Online Tools

Organizing the data gathered about one's family into a chart is tedious when done manually. Creating a family tree is more convenient with the use of computer software or with the help of the many websites that cater to these needs. There are around 200 sites that have utilities and databases for ancestry search.

Majority of the computer software that can be downloaded are actually affiliated with a family tree or genealogy site. A trial package of the software is usually available for free, and if you find the software to be excellent, you can then choose to acquire their premium package for a fee. An great example is You can avail of 14 day trial period enabling you to do an initial search of your relatives by supplying necessary information such as the name and other personal information like sex and dates of birth, marriage and death. This an be done after registering to become a member of the website.

If you do not have spare cash at the moment but would like to make a family tree, there is also genealogy software which are part of an open source project that you can use for free. One example is Gramps.

Either way you choose, the software or the site will be utilizing the civil registry, immigration, census and military records that are considered public records or documents. But the results you will get will depend on the unique features of the site like if it allows customer contributed content or not.


Making a family tree is an engaging project only for you but also for the family. It enables you to establish or reestablish ties with members of the family that you have not even seen since birth or since you were five years old. It also makes you aware of the different characteristics and traits that you have which are also exhibited or manifested in some of your relatives. Thus, whatever the motivations you will have in making a family tree, it will be a process in which you know your family better and in a sense you know yourself better, too.


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    • Jameshank profile image

      Jameshank 6 years ago from Japan, NY, California

      Yes that is true Turkic. Thanks for dropping by!

    • profile image

      Turkic 6 years ago

      Family is the most important thing in our lives