how to build a family tree

How to Build a Family Tree

So you’re definitely doing it. You’ve ordered your in-home DNA test, you’ve checked out Ancestry to feel out the genealogy scene. But where do you start? If you don’t know how to build a family tree, we’re pretty excited to inform you that it doesn’t require a whole lot of extra effort. In fact, getting started doesn’t even require a whole lot of extra skill or materials. Here’s a quick guide to get you started on your very own genealogy project. We’ll have you building a family tree in no time!

How to Build a Family Tree – Where to Start?

You’ll probably want to set up an account on a site like to start. The great thing about Ancestry is that you can start your family tree without signing up for any sort of paid membership. They give you access to a ton of public records and you can immediately link up to and search for relatives. One of the simplest and most necessary tools they provide you with is a digital family tree. You can start with yourself and go from there. It gives you the option to add life and death data, as well as marriage, birth and other vital information. You can add photos and upload copies of vital records pertaining to a particular relative. 

Once you’ve gotten started, you’ll probably pick up momentum quickly. While you flesh out your family tree, you might hit some frustrating road blocks. The key to building a complete family tree can be attributed to documentation. Make sure you’re noting where you found vital records, upload and digitize them if you can, and know that in some cases you’ll need to travel to actual vital records offices and locations in order to physically search records. While we have moved forward as a society with digitizing records and making them more accessible, it’s not uncommon that the farther back you search, the less accessible those records will be. 

building a family tree
Building a family tree doesn’t have to be complicated. Ask your relatives, aunts, uncles and grandparents. Not only will they have stories to tell, but they might have photos and vital records you can use to flesh out your family tree.

Building a Family Tree Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

If you’d rather go old school, you can find printable family tree templates online that allow you to pencil in information. We still recommend keeping good track of your research to help clear things up when you hit a genealogy mystery! Also, sometimes our best resources when putting together our families origins is simply checking in with our older relatives. Family heirlooms, pictures, old newspaper clippings and even church and synagogue records and hospital receipts can shed some light on where our lineage is traced to. Stories may not always be reliable, but if you’re not quite ready to jump into something like an Ancestry account, doing it offline can be just as fun. Just keep in mind that sites like Ancestry have access to important vital records that are convenient when you have a membership. If you’re looking to kick off your family tree the right way, you may want to look into obtaining important certified copies of vital records for you and your family. Remember, we recommend that you document, file and keep your folders organized to keep your quest for the fullest family tree on track! 

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