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Organizing your family tree

Updated: Feb 3, 2019

Researching your family tree will produce an infinite amount of names, dates, places, relationships, and many other facts, photos and keepsakes from the past. Keeping everything well organized will not only help make it easier to analyze the information, but it will help avoid wasted time, and could help break down brick walls in your research. Consider all options carefully before investing too much time and effort into storing your data:

1. Organizing information on paper

You're reading this, so you're obviously computer savvy, and most likely considering an app or program for your family tree, but if you're interested in recording your data on paper or just want some worksheets, the National Archives provides free forms for you to save and print for your own use: (These are PDF files, which requires Adobe Reader)

There are also workbooks available for recording genealogical information. You will also need notebooks, folders, binders, tabs, dividers, paperclips, pens and/or pencils for supplies, while you're at it.

2. Organizing Information Online

There are many websites featuring family tree hosting. When choosing a site for online data storage, be sure it is a reliable site that will preserve your data and not shut down a few years from now. I recommend for many reasons, the main one being it is completely FREE. There you can research and store your family tree all in one place. You can connect to other people's trees and save yourself a LOT of time and effort if you're lucky enough to have another genealogist/historian in the family. Just sign up and start entering your Family Tree. You can attach sources, documents and photos. Just be careful not to share private information about living people and you will find it completely safe and very useful. You can even volunteer to transcribe records.

Subscription based sites such as and​ are useful in different ways. They have a lot of the same records, but each has unique databases, transcribed by different people and therefore your searches may produce different results. I have subscribed to several at different times, just to see what they offer.

Give us your suggestions and recommendations for online family tree storage below!

3. Organizing Information on PC (Online/Offline)

In my opinion, Family Tree Maker is the perfect solution for organizing and analyzing data, photos, and documents you find during your research. It is a very user friendly program and is lots of fun to use. This program has every feature you could need. Enter your tree from scratch or import another family member's tree. You can then easily create reports, charts, books, and family trees. It's easy to backup and restore your file or copy and share with other family members. It usually comes with a free 3-month subscription to You can get it on disc or download it instantly from and save!!​

Important! Don't forget...

When storing family history on your computer, it is important to protect the data from being lost or stolen. While you are browsing the internet searching for clues, you don't want to pick up any malicious spyware or viruses. A good virus protection program will help protect your computer so you can browse with confidence.

Finally, when storing your family tree and all the files you find along the way, it is important to keep a backup, especially for keeping scanned copies of old family photos. You should store at least one backup copy of all your photos on some external device, such as an external hard drive. Also, if you need to send copies to another family member, copying them to a CD-Rom or simple USB memory stick is a great option.


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