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Family-Tree Fan Chart

Source: Martha Stewart Living, April 1999


We exist today because countless generations of ancestors met, married, and had children, yet we often know little or even nothing about them. As you begin exploring your past, you may discover an ethnic or a national heritage you never knew about, find a family name to give to a new baby, or just explore how your own story fits into the American epic.


  • 8 1/2-by-11-inch paper or 11-by-17-inch paper

  • Pencil

  • Pen

  • Card Stock

  • Utility knife

  • Colored paper


  1. Download and print the template onto 8 1/2-by-11-inch paper. For a bigger chart, copy it onto 11-by-17-inch paper at 175 percent. For a 16-by-24-inch chart, copy half of the 11-by-17-inch chart at 125 percent; repeat for other half. Carefully tape enlarged halves together to form template. 

  2. Go over the template's lines with a permanent marker; then trace them with pencil onto a sheet of paper thinner than card stock (you could tape the template to a window, center the paper on top, and lightly draw lines with a pencil, using a ruler if necessary).

  3. Begin by calligraphing your name and birthdate; then proceed to your parents, grandparents, and so on, incorporating dates when you can. Don't worry if you make a small mistake; if you want to undo any calligraph, gently scratch it away using a utility knife or a razor blade. Be careful not to cut through the paper.

  4. Frame the finished product with colored paper behind it to create a decorative border, or take it to a frame shop.

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