How to Fill In a Freeform Family Tree That Isn’t Organized by Generations

How to fill in those old fashioned family trees that seem to have no organized relationship between branches, and still know how everyone's related 20 years later.


Every so often, we come across a gorgeous family tree that doesn’t seem to be organized in any logical way. If you’re like me, you find the call of those antique-style family tree lithographs… intoxicating.

But how can you fill them in with any hope of future generations being able to understand how people are related?

The solution is actually quite simple!

I like to call these fill-in-the-blank art history family trees “new antiques” or “instant heirlooms.”
The old-fashioned family tree design in this tutorial was created using scanned antique documents in the public domain, from 1595 -1633.
This has never been used as a family tree before, so you’re getting a completely unique template, available exclusively through House Elves Anonymous.

How to fill in your freeform family tree without going mad.

  1. Click the download button above to get the visual guide as a PDF, so you can see the text really clearly. It’s free.
  2. You can choose to follow the sample tree I made, or you can put people wherever you want! It’s the next step that makes it all okay.
  3. Every time you write someone’s name on the tree put a little number next to their name.
  4. Write that same number in the blank space at the bottom. (Write small and start with a pencil. You can trace it later with ink.) Next to the number, write the relationship to the main person on the tree.
    Ex: If this is your family tree, and you added your mom, you’d write 1. Mom.

This system gives you a lot more freedom than your average lineage-based family tree!

This is a less “logical” style of a family tree than my other designs. The FREEFORM CHART allows you to customize it for your own unique family situations. You can add brothers and sisters, animal siblings, multiple marriages, adoptee, and foster family info, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts, uncles, chosen family… anyone! Just write people’s names anywhere, and put a little number next to their names and use the box at the bottom as a key, to describe who they are.

Easy, Right?

If you have any questions or special requests, post them in the comments below!

If you love the family tree design in this tutorial and want your own, you can get it in my Etsy shop:

Get the Printable JPEG File and print locally so there’s no wait time!

☛ Want an Archival Giclée Print of this museum-quality poster sent to your home? Click HERE.

This shows the size of the Archival Giclée Print. You can now order this as a physical heirloom HERE.

☛ There’s also a GIGANTIC version designed to be used as a sign-in board at family reunions! To get the Archival Giclée Print signature poster sent to your home, click HERE.

The family reunion poem at the bottom reads:

Welcome dear kin, from far and wide!
To a place where you’re known, and cannot hide,
For your features are mirrored in every eye.
In this place, you’re embraced, with no need to ask why!

Though some of us are apples, and some just plain nuts,
We’ve all bloomed on this tree, so let’s make a great fuss!
Sign your name among these leaves, and rustle well while you’re here!
For we won’t be together again ’til next year!

Let’s laugh and tell tales, of our shared history, and find comfort and humor in our grand family tree!

☛ NEW! I’ve just finished a high-resolution version of this family tree, with room for 7 generations of ancestors and also some descendants!

How to organize your ancestry / genealogy info:

Do you need a family tree workbook template to make your family tree research easier and more organized? I made a handy family tree planning workbook you can get OVER HERE, with room for up to 12 generations.

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New in the shop

Professional Genealogist Bundle – Set of 10 Family Tree Notebooks PAPERBACK PRINT EDITION

This listing gets you TEN physical copies of this beautiful family tree notebook!
The bundle contains 10 paperback editions of Our Family Tree Index, a genealogy workbook ready to be turned into an heirloom.

This bundle is for professional genealogists and ancestry aficionados. For pros who often compile lineage charts for clients, you can order this discounted bundle and pass on the savings to your customers while presenting your findings in a gorgeous, archival heirloom.

A 10-book paperback set retails in bookstores for $459, but you can order directly from House Elves Anonymous for bulk savings!

7 generation family tree digital download

Freestyle Family Tree for 143 People in an Antique Style

This freeform family tree has room to record up to 7 generations of ancestors, and up to 2 generations of descendants.  See the description below for links to a tutorial to walk you through it!  This is a digital download, and it’s HUGE (it took me over a week to make it), so please download it to a computer rather than a phone.

6 Generation Family Tree of Knowledge

This is a high-resolution digital download: 300 PPI.

A smaller size version of the file.  The smaller JPG can be uploaded to, in case you want to add text digitally.

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