Summer Genealogy Musings

2012 GRIP German Class

2012 GRIP German Class

Over the summer I attended my very first genealogy institute.  I took the German Genealogy Research course presented by John Humphrey at GRIP in Pittsburgh.   I learned more than I ever imagined about researching my German ancestors.

During class I was asked a couple of seemingly easy questions: who were your immigrant ancestors?  How “German” are you?  I have to confess, Monday night I went back to my room, and determined the answers.  I am less than 25% German, my husband is closer to 50%.  Not the answers I was expecting.  After all, I was taking a German research course, well, because my husband and I are mostly German.  Right?

I returned home determined to get a better picture of my family.  As I’m sure you know, this is not the easiest of endeavors.  I tried paper and pencil, computer charting tools, and priced custom genealogy charts.  My criteria for my chart and each ancestor:

  • Vital statistics
  • Military service
  • Country of origin
  • Space for a picture
  • Print for a reasonable price
A visio diagram of my mother's family
A visio diagram of my family tree
Family Tree

I have been asking questions of aunts and uncles, as well as raiding their photo collections for years.  If I’m going to print a chart it needs to be something attractive that I can share with those poor people who have tolerated my endless stream of questions.

After discarding several possibilities, a friend and I arrived at a viable solution: Microsoft Visio.

To begin, I created a “standard” block for males and females, with space for vital statistics and a picture.  Each chart is 32×48, oriented vertically (my friend prefers horizontal), and when printed, is a standard size of 16×24.  From my male/female blocks I created a template with 8 generations, and started typing away.

A side benefit to creating my family tree in Visio, was it provided an opportunity to identify gaps and a few inconsistencies in my family tree.  There are two keys on each chart:

  • A key to the flags which identify immigration country and military service
  • A key to the abbreviations used throughout the chart

Now for the good part, the printing and costs.  Most print shops prefer a PDF file (Save as PDF in Visio).  I printed my chart at Staples, on glossy photo paper, for about $22.50 including state tax.  Many print shops also have a heavier bond paper (stationary weight) which can be used to print a “working” chart which you can write on.

If you would like a copy of my template tree, email and request a version.  I am happy to share.   Now if I could find a way to automate the creation of the diagram ..

This entry was posted in Genealogy software and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Summer Genealogy Musings

  1. Mary in AZ says:

    Good use of Visio, I thought of doing this also just haven’t taken the time. Thanks for sharing our template.

  2. GenDetective says:

    The Visio template is no longer available. Thank you for asking

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