By: Daniel K. Voyles     The genealogy bug can be traced back to the 1977 movie "Roots", a powerful film that so impressed its viewers that they wanted to see just what their own family was made of. Back then, those researchers were confined to libraries and often had to travel long distances or use mail service to gather information.
Today it is much easier to make a family tree because we can now do it all online! There are many sites that offer the service at no charge, even provided free software to download. Genealogy software makes family trees easy to create; you simply enter the name of your ancestor along with the birth and death dates and they are placed on the tree in chronological order in the proper branch of the family. Some software allows you to include the place of birth and death but those extras are usually included on programs you buy.
Most genealogy software, even the freeware, is more than just a listing of names and dates. There are wizards to guide you through entering the information and most allow you to include family photos so that you can put a face to a name. One of the most exciting developments in creating an online family tree is face recognition software that some sites are offering. Most families have a few photographs that no one can identify, but if the site you're working with has this special software you may be in luck! By downloading and annotating the photos of relatives you are familiar with, the software scans the unknown person and places them in the appropriate branch on the family tree. This is a remarkably accurate program and if your site offers it, it can probably solve a decades old mystery in seconds!
One very distinct advantage you'll enjoy when you build family tree online is that everyone in your family can see it! You also have the option of making it public or private password protected, even on the sites that offer the service at no charge. If you'd like to download your work and save it on a CD you can do that, too.
Many genealogy sites include user forums where you can discuss your research with other people, even your family, and learn new techniques and ideas. You may even be one of the many people who connect with long-lost relatives through these forums!
When you build family tree online it's fun and educational for children, too. Be sure to include them when you are building your tree and see how much they know about their immediate and extended family. They will be astounded at how large their family really is!

Daniel K. Voyles is a genealogy enthusiast. For more information on how to build a family tree online visit