How to Complete a Blank Family Tree

Completing a blank family tree is a great way to start researching your family history. It provides a way for you to organize your information in a structure that clearly shows your relationship to your ancestors. For this article, I will focus on a 3-generation family tree. I will explain the structure of the family tree, how to fill it in, and how it can be used to organize your family lines going back as many generations as you desire.

Family Tree Structure

A 3-generation family tree can easily fit on a 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper. With the paper positioned lengthwise, it will be divided into 3 columns. Moving from left to right, the first column will contain a single box that will be used to hold information about yourself. This box is labeled #1. The second column will contain two boxes stacked vertically. The top box will hold your father’s information and is labeled #2. The bottom box will hold your mother’s information and is labeled #3. The third column will contain four boxes stacked vertically which are labeled #4 through #7. Boxes #4 and #5 will have the information about your paternal grandfather and grandmother, respectively. Boxes #6 and #7 will have the information abut your maternal grandfather and grandmother, respectively. An interesting observation about this type of structure is that, with the possible exception of box #1, odd numbered boxes indicate women and even numbered boxes indicate men.

Filling Out Your Family Tree

Now that you understand the structure of the 3-generation family tree, it is time to begin filling it out. Family research always begins with yourself. Box #1 will be used to collect this information. On the first line, put your full name. Note that women should always be listed by their maiden name. Below your name, you can include additional information such as the dates and locations of your birth and marriage.

Once you’ve completed the first column, you can move on to the second column. This column will contain the information about your father in box #2 and your mother in box #3. As before, start by listing their full name in their respective box. You can then add the dates and locations of their births, marriage, and deaths. If a particular space doesn’t apply, leave it blank. Repeat this process for your grandparents in the third column.

Once you’ve finished listing each person’s information, you should label this page as “Chart No. 1.”

Organizing Your Research

In order to document your family lines further back in time, you will need to fill in additional family tree charts. The ancestry for each of the boxes in column three of Chart No. 1 can be continued on a new chart. For example, let’s trace back your paternal grandfather’s family line. In Chart No. 1, your paternal grandfather’s information is listed in box #4. Next to that box, we will put a “2” to indicate that this family line will continue in Chart No. 2. In Chart No. 2, we note underneath the chart number that box #1 on this chart is the same as box #4 on Chart 1. Using this method, we are able to tie the two charts together. You can then continue to fill in this line of ancestry. Repeat this process as many times as necessary.

Completing a blank family tree is the first step in researching family history. With this information in hand, you are now ready to dig deeper into the life stories hiding behind each name as you uncover your family history.