Barneblad: Making a family tree is fun!

Barneblad: A monthly feature to share with kids and grandkids

Brought to you by Lori Ann Reinhall

While this issue is all about heritage, it’s a good time to start thinking about your family tree. 

What is a family tree? 

A family tree is diagram that shows the relationships between people in several generations of a family, who your parents, grandparents, and older ancestors are. When a tree is planted, branches emerge from it, and in the same way, there are branches of each family. The Norwegian word for family tree is slektstre.

What is genealogy?

Genealogy is the study of families, family history, and the tracing of their lines back in time. It’s somehow natural that people want to know where they came from. It is a popular hobby, both in Norway and the United States. The Norwegian word for genealogy is much the same as in English: genealogi.

Starting early makes a difference

While there are many records online for finding out about your family tree, there is nothing better than talking to moms, dads, and grandparents right now. For one thing, they can tell you a lot of interesting stories, which you won’t want to miss out on.  It is important to write this information down, so it won’t be lost and can be passed down later on.

How to start your family tree

The step is to gather your facts. The basic questions for each family member are:

What is your full name?

Where and when were your born?

What was your job or profession?

What were your parents’ names, and where were they from?

(If the person in no longer living, you can ask moms, dads, or other relatives to help you find the information you need.)

Fill in your tree

With there facts in hand, you are ready to fill in your tree.  There are many options, and it’s up to you to decided which type of tree you want to use: one with information, one with pictures, or both.  

Grow your tree and knowledge

Once your tree is started, there are no limitations as to how it can grow. It may also be interesting to start collecting stories, photos, and other mementos from the relatives you know. You can take an old shoebox for each family member. Label them with their names, and start collecting. I was thrilled that my mom saved my grandmother’s old report card (I learned she was a very good student). It may have not seemed so important at one time, but it was history later on. You will learn a lot about yourself, have fun, and future family members will thank you.

Download this template to make your own family tree!

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 18, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.