It’s almost a year since I started researching and documenting my family tree. I’ve been gathering all my information and recording my tree online using Webtrees. I’ve found this to be a great tool for documenting my family tree because it’s easy to update and I can link all the facts to the various sources I’ve uncovered. However, one limitation I’ve found with documenting it online like this is that it’s hard to get a view of the tree as a whole.
On my mum’s side, I’ve gone back as far as I can in Australia for almost all of my ancestors, and now I’m filling in the details to get a picture of what their lives were like. The overall structure is there, so I decided to spend some effort to produce a poster sized printout of my tree!
Using Open Office Draw, similar to Microsoft Visio, I created a diagram for my mum’s side of the tree with a box for each person including their name and years of birth and death. I started with myself and went up through my ancestors, including their siblings along the way in order to visualise the size of each family. I didn’t include spouses or children for these siblings.
I set the page size to A0 (the dimensions of this are 84.1 x 118.9cm) so I could fit all ten generations. I saved the finished product as a PDF and took it to Officeworks to print. For only $4 I was able to print it in black and white on A0 plan paper.
While it’s just a simple black and white tree at the moment, seeing all my work spread out on a single page was very rewarding. It was also interesting to see just how large some of the families were, and to notice trends in names going down the tree.
If you’ve been working hard pulling together a lot of information in your family tree, I’d highly recommend taking a break to do something like this so you can take a moment to step back and appreciate your research. My family and friends have also been very impressed seeing it all laid out on a single sheet of paper.