Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pocket Tree Product Review

When I do genealogy research on-site, I’m very mobile. I move between book shelves and machines, study tables and film readers. It’s not practical for me to bring all my research on a laptop, because I’d continually be packing up the laptop so I could move around the building. However, it’s difficult to genealogy research without key information in front of you.

To counter this issue, I began making printouts of the family lines or group sheets on which I was focusing on a particular trip. At least these papers I could leave on the study table with little risk of someone stealing them. However, given the amount of research I do, this always leads to a big stack of paper being carted to and from my house.

Back at the 2010 Federation of Genealogical Societies conference, I saw a little product that might help me in my information transport dilemma. It was called Pocket Tree™. Basically, it’s a 9-generation family tree that folds up neatly. You really can put it in your pocket!

As you gradually unfold a Pocket Tree™, there are helpful tips printed on the outside of the top folds that assist you in preserving your family history. The Pocket Tree™ includes ideas for interviewing family members, and even provides 39 thought-provoking questions you can ask your relatives. When completely unfolded, the 9-generation chart is revealed:

You can see all the facets of the Pocket Tree™ at the web site’s Photo Gallery.

Here’s the breakdown “under the hood.” Pocket Tree™ is made of acid-free paper containing 10% post-consumer product. This combo allows for easy erasing with a hi-polymer eraser. The cover is varnish coated, and doesn’t show fingerprints. This is great when you hand Pocket Trees around to your family. Pocket Tree™ travels well.

The space for writing information on the family tree chart is limited. You can use an archival-quality pen, but information on the Pocket Tree™ website recommends a mechanical pencil with a fine lead tip and an eraser suitable for those familiar edits that come with researching one’s family tree. “Grandma lied about her age; she was really 86 when she died.”

Pocket Tree™ is also handy for initiating dialog with your family. If you have a particular relative that doesn’t provide many details, the topics printed on the Pocket Tree™ may get the conversation started. You can also order several Pocket Trees™ and give them to family members to fill out on their own, or provide the details yourself and share your family’s history with the next generation.

This is a handy, convenient tool that assists in furthering your family history research without breaking the bank. My own Pocket Tree™ will be logging many miles as I take it on all my family history research road trips.

Further information about the Pocket Tree™ can be found here.

[Disclosure: I was contacted by Pocket Tree™ and received one to review. I do like the product and will continue to use it in my own research. I am also enrolled in the Pocket Tree™ Affiliate Program. The links in this review are affiliate links.]


  1. Is that a crumpled single in the first photo? What we genealogists won't do for a little mad money so we can buy our genealogy supplies.

  2. I would like this for my use not so much for using at a library but to show others what I have found or to jog my memory about an ancestor if I'm away from laptop etc. Just an overall quick reference sheet. To give to the non gene family members a second version would be nice that didn't have the tips or interview questions. Not sure what could go in their place right now though.