Thursday, June 2, 2011

How You Can Build a FREE Family Tree

How You Can Build a FREE Family Tree
Yes, there is a wealth of information online, contributed by genealogists, researchers and “normal” people just like you, and it’s all for FREE. It won’t cost you a dime to create a tree with verified ancestors, you know the ones, the kind that you can prove you really are related to. Not just names and dates but pictures and stories so you can build a legacy to share with your family.
There are several FREE websites that will help you get a started. Many dedicated (and addicted) genealogists have contributed their research to sites that are free and you can use this information to help locate your ancestors. After you learn who your great greats are then you can search for their life stories, say “howdy” and shake their hand.
If we list these sites like these could it hurt our research business? No way! There is always more to do and sometimes even the most dedicated searcher gets stuck and needs the help of a professional. Not everyone has the time to search like we do, or loves it as much as we do, or is as good as we are. Anyway, keep reading and you will learn how to create a tree and how to water it with sources so it will grow branches and show you where you came from and who helped make you into YOU.
To begin a tree you need a program in which to put your ancestors. Oh, there are lots of “free” programs that will let you start a tree and not charge you until they have you hooked. You have probably been burned by one of these - so we suggest using PAF (Personal Ancestral File). It was created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints and is available as a FREE download on their website at It truly is FREE and stays FREE no matter how much you add to it. It’s a part of which is one of the best sites to search for your ancestors. Not all of the information there is correct but it will give you clues for your research. Remember, if something doesn’t look right (like mom was born after her child) don’t record it until you verify the correct dates. If you have family records about great aunt Mable, left to you by your grandmother, use her information while you locate documents that will verify her birth date and place.
Go ahead and download PAF right onto your computer or put it on a disc or external drive. If you have a partial tree you can download it as a gedcom (GEnealogical Data COMmunication) file and add it to your PAF program. A gedcom file is a way to transfer genealogy files. It will transfer all the names, dates, notes and sources that have been researched. Media, such as photos, do not transfer. Hopefully the day will come soon when pictures will transfer on a gedcom file. Transferring them one at a time is a pain so keep up to date with them as you go.
In our next blog we will continue listing FREE family history software and websites so you can build your tree without spending a dime.