My original idea for a Christmas gift for our parents had become huge! The family tree information I found and organized was too much to write by hand and very time consuming. I found a great software program available at the time, which I still use after nine years. There are many more options and programs out there now, and reviews are available to find out the best style to fit your needs.
I entered my family information and the program organized a history page for each family, and then created a family tree with names and dates.
I realized I would need to constantly change the pages when I found new details, so I decided to use a 3-ring binder and loose leaf format. I also found out that after a family tree is shared with your family, it sparks more old memories that will change and add to the family tree binder. Both families were excited to learn more about their own families, and it especially reminded them how important they are to us!
What I used for my project:
- White 3-ring binder (with clear cover to insert personalized title)
- Clear sheet page protectors
- Dividers for sections of family, photos, etc.
- White and color copy paper
I designed a cover or title page that I inserted with the famly name, and nice border, and the date. I created a title page note for each family, explaining what information had or had not yet been verified. Not all internet genealogy information is going to be true! I have not even had time to find real sources of evidence for all the information I have. That’s my next step!
For the binder, I found verses that spoke to the special connection between family and that our histories are part of who we are.
Section 1: Printed the direct ancestry list with names and dates of births, deaths, and marriages that I had found so far. That included my parents and all of their direct grandparents and great-grandparents.
Section 2: Probably the most important part of the binder (at least the one that brought lots of tears, even to the fathers!) was a collection of letters and lists. I asked each child and grandchild to write something about their memories of our parents. It was harder for the guys, until we helped them get started! Each son and daughter, their husbands and wives, and all the grandchildren wrote about the things that made their parents and grandparents special to them, individual memories of special times and places. This was a great opportunity to thank our parents for all they had done for us and our children!
Section 3: Printed all of the Descendants (that I could find) from the oldest identified ancestors. That included uncles, aunts, cousins, distant cousin! This history contained all other details I could find, such as places of births, deaths, marriages, burials, schools, etc.
Section 4: Paternal Section – Divided out my father’s family ancestry, along with photos I had found of several grand and great-grand parents. I included extra photos of my father as a baby or young child with some of those relatives. As a bonus, I had a special handwritten recipe from his mother, my grandmother, who had passed on 2 years earlier. I had a few copies of birth, death and marriage certificates, included the marriage certificate for my father’s grandparents in 1919.
Section 5: Maternal Section – Included the same as for my father’s side of the family, with her relatives, with photos, copies of documentation.
Next: I will try to share more information on software and resources for beginning family tree research. There are many free options out there!