By using a pedigree chart, the genealogist has a form to separate names, dates and places while showing family connection. A pedigree chart, generational chart, or ancestry chart all refer to the same format of writing a generational list of lineal ancestors.
The following “how to” article explains basic terms and formatting using the slide show photograph as an example:
- A pedigree chart, generational chart, or ancestry chart all refer to the same format of writing a generational list of lineal ancestors. The example ancestry chart is for COUCH.
- The surname is a person’s last name. In the example COUCH, SCHULER, ARMSTRONG, BAKER, and DUNHAM are surnames. A surname written in capital letters is easily spotted.
- The given name is a person’s first name. Nettie, Laura, Eugene, Elisha, Jane, and Nathan are all examples of a given name.
- An ancestor is someone born before the person. Elisha COUCH is the ancestor of Eugene COUCH.
- A descendant is someone born after the person. Nettie COUCH is a descendant of Elisha COUCH.
- A lineal line is in a direct blood line – either ancestral or descendant – such as parent, grandparent, or son. Laura ARMSTRONG is the daughter of Nathan ARMSTRONG. Mathew ARMSTRONG is the father of Nathan ARMSTRONG.
- A collateral line is an indirect blood relative such as a brother, sister, cousin, aunt, or uncle. These relationships are written on family group sheets, another article.
- The paternal side of the family is the father’s blood relatives.
- The maternal side of the family is the mother’s blood relatives.
In all research, always work from the known to the unknown. With a blank form, start with yourself as number one – whether you are male or female. After your name, all the male names will have even numbers and the female names will have odd numbers.
Number two is your father. Your father’s ancestors are written above and to the right of number one.
Number three is your mother. Your mother’s ancestors are written below to the right of number one.
Female surnames are the maiden name. If the name is unknown, either leave blank or write unknown. Example, the wife of Mathew ARMSTRONG is Ellenor.
The complete date is formatted by day, month, and year.
Always write your name with the current date on the chart: “prepared by . . . .” Update as needed, if using a new form; keep the old one to compare progress.
Pedigree forms are available free at the National Archives at Atlanta. The form may be printed online in many graphic designs, resources: