Genealogy Wise

The Genealogy & Family History Social Network

Most people studying genealogy are looking for ancestors.  A family tree of such ancestors is ascendant - it goes backward in time.  Living Family Trees are descendant - they come forward in time.  I have found it interesting to look at descendant family trees from great grandparents forward.  Especially where teaching children is concerned, it is valuable to show relationships in current time.

Living Family Trees

Genealogy is a fascinating subject but first one must understand relationships. For the entry level genealogy student, I have prepared a list of terms and definitions at  I can explain to my children who is their great uncle Sam, but it helps if I can show his relationship to them. Uncle Sam is my father's brother and he has his own family along this branch of your family tree.  His children are your cousins, specifically second cousins. Using a Living Family Tree makes the relationship clear, and because my children know grandpa, the concept of his brother is clear and relevant.  Descendant trees are relevant to understanding relationships in genealogy.  Living Family Trees portray those relationships in a compact view of the family tree

Unless you have large sheets of paper or an infinite computer screen, it is difficult to move from one family branch to another.  Family Tree Tops takes a different view of family trees, specifically by looking down at the top of the tree.  Imagine great grandmother and great grandfather as the trunk of the tree.  Their children surround them in a circle about 20 or 30 years forward in time (a generation).  Some of their children have families about 20 or 30 years later.  These are grandchildren to the great grandparents in the trunk of the tree and their children are great grandsons and great granddaughters. They can see themselves in the crown of the tree and follow branches back through their parents, and grandparents, to their great grandparents four generations past.

They may even know their great grandparents.  Typically, they will know their grandparents.  This is why Living Family Trees are relevant - because they show a person's current living family.  Next to mom and dad are Uncle Mike and Aunt Sally, whose children are your cousins.  To explain second cousins is merely a jump in generations, which is easily seen in the compact top-down diagram.  

Family Tree Tops

The compact top-down diagram has a time scale of about 20 years per inch centered about the great grandparents in the middle and radiating outward.  This scale allows room to plot names by birth years on the time scale.  The compact design allows for branches (families) growing side-by side.  Trees are alive and growing.  Living Family Trees grow as well.  Babies are added in the current year along their family branches and next to their sister(s) or brother(s).  It's fun to see everyone's names together and next to their cousins.

The design is unique.  There are sun charts and such, but they don't incorporate the time scale nor the concept of looking down vertically at a tree.  Which, when you think about, it makes perfect sense.  The growth of a family in four generations looks like the dendritic pattern of tree growth.  The rings (while inside the trunk for a normal tree) appear outside the trunk and describe years and growth / history of a family.  Living Family Trees containing baby boom years have many names around 1945-1960.  Their children then form a large grouping in the baby boom echo years.

The Family Tree Tops design is a living family tree design.  More about this concept and some examples can be seen at  The really cool thing about Family Tree Tops design is that images and art can be used as a background.  Your family comes from a heritage and culture which you use in designing your own descendant living family tree.  Check out the gallery of background images, baby names, pictures of ancestors and historical event pages.

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