We’ve assembled together the instructions that you’ll need in a PDF. Click on the image below and it will open up for you.
Getting us your data as a GEDCOM
One of the essential elements, of course, is your family tree data. If you are already well into genealogy, then you will already be familiar with software like FamilyTreeMaker, Personal Ancestral File, FamilyTreeBuilder, or MacFamilyTree. These products are software tools that would run on your home PC or Mac and allow you to build up a file of information about your ancestry and descendants. Of these three products, FamilyTreeMaker and MacFamilyTree are commercial (meaning they’ll cost you some money) while FamilyTreeBuilder and PAF are free. Of course, to some extent, you get what you pay for; and there are other products out there as well. Our aim here is not to review or recommend any of these over any other; instead, we have a different aim; namely, to make it as simple as possible for you to collect the necessary information together in one simple-to-manage file.
The benefit of these programs, in the context of you getting us your genealogical information, is that they can export something called a GEDCOM file. GEDCOM is an acronym for genealogical data communication; and if you click on that link to the Wikipedia article, you’ll learn some how a GEDCOM file can easily represent all of the information that we need to prepare your unique family tree.
So, here’s the bottom line. If you have or get one of these programs (or something like them), then you can build your family tree and then export a GEDCOM file that contains the names, births and deaths of all the individuals you want in your tree. You then simply email us that GEDCOM file; and we are off to the races.
Getting us your data from a public tree
There is another way. You may be familiar with genealogy web sites like Ancestry, MyHeritage, Geni, and Mocavo. Again, our aim is not to promote one of these over the other. Each has its good and bad points. Ancestry, for example, is a paid site and you can use it to create your family tree only when you’ve signed up. The good news is that there may already be a huge amount of information on your ancestors in their database already. It’s easy to check this out on their home page, without signing up, just by entering some information about one of your ancestors and seeing what pops up. Ancestry works very well for anyone whose family has been in the US for any length of time. Unfortunately, it will stubbornly propose American records even when you tell it you’re looking for someone in England or Germany, etc.
MyHeritage and Geni offer free accounts, allowing you to create your family tree through just a web browser. MyHeritage will attempt to up-sell you to a “plus” account through emails to your registered address; and if you use them, you may want to sign up with an address that you don’t mind being hit with an email a day with upgrade offers.
We use all of these sites, and find each one useful in its own way. For this purpose (getting us your genealogy data) you would simply create your tree and invite us to view it. We can then access your information on-line and copy whatever data we need to create your custom tree.
Getting us your data from a PDF form
If you prefer, we have also created some very simple PDF forms that you can fill out with your data. Upon request, we’ll email these to you; and you can fill then out and return them to us by email when you’re done. You’ll need a current version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader; but that’s free, and simple to use. Just go to our Contact Us page, and send a message requesting the forms. We’ll be happy to pass them along.
Getting us your data the manual way
Contact us by phone (+1 303 803 4955) or email and we’ll send you the forms you need to fill out. Fill these out and send these back by return mail or courier along with your physical photographs. We’ll scan your photos for use in your tree and ship them back. We have worked with old and damaged photos in the past. Very often, photos do not even need to be completely removed from their frames in order for us to get a digital version that is good enough for one of our trees through scanning or photography.
For Silhouette Trees
If you check out our Arboretum page, you’ll see some very simple silhouette trees. These work best from photographs taken in profile, which means that many classic photos won’t work very well. Even images taken with a cellphone camera are excellent for this style of tree. For girls or women, it works best to tie longer hair up or back into a pony tail so that it isn’t falling over the neck. You can see examples in the Arboretum. In all cases, take the pictures against a light-colored wall or background, inside or outside. Try to avoid using flash, so that there aren’t any shadows cast onto the wall. You don’t need good detail of the person posing, since we’re just going to get their outline anyway. We can even work in silhouettes of your family’s pet cat or dog!