The concept of a family tree is the wrong way around. If you are positioned centrally at the bottom, it is from you that any offspring will sprout up into limbs, branches and twigs. Your ancestors however that have created you, are your roots, the network of people from whom you have come and should then be below.
By exploring what has preceded the growth above, you may have an opportunity to gain enormous insight into yourself, as well as those who came before for you and whose genes have made you YOU!
Creating a pictorial family tree is the easy part. Depending on the family, researching it only a few generations back can be extremely difficult! Having your tree accompanied with notes or a document for each person, household or cluster of generations brings the family tree to life, makes the names and photos meaningful, but creating such documents or stories, even if only for private family reading can become challenging. How do you approach conflicting versions of family ‘facts’, do you set it out just as milestone dates and achievements in point form or write it up like a novel, do you list all your sources, does everyone in the family get to contribute and acquire a copy, the list goes on!
Your objectives will influence how you present what you already know and then discover. It may seem obvious (especially in hindsight) that considering what your objectives are can save you a great deal of time down the track, not just in reformatting but relocating information which you may have discarded along the way.
As the tree’s roots emerge and and continue to ‘grow’ back in time, cross-reference what was happening at the time – were there diseases, uprisings, famines? Explore the events that shaped their thinking and behaviors, and perhaps a move well away from where the family had been established for generations. This helps to better understand how they lived, and what sort of people they were in the context of the era and place that they lived
Presenting your unique family’s path can be simple or complex, with a few side notes or a full story.
Whatever form your family tree takes, simply having names, dates, birth and death locations does not convey who these people were and how they lived. Your format for presenting your discoveries can be creative, and what you may want to learn from genealogy can be variable, but if do your ancestors proud and research the many influences in their lives, the small investment of time can give far more appreciation of what shaped them, and went towards your DNA!
Genealogy is not simply like a jigsaw puzzle whereby you find pieces that will fill the space. When you get the right pieces in place, you also get a picture.