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Beginning Lesson #27
Pedigree Charts - A Map of Your Heritage

In lesson #26 we discussed Family Group Sheets.  However, the most popular genealogy form is a pedigree chart. As with our pure-bred horses, cats and dogs, a pedigree lists the bloodline on both the father and mother's side of the family. If you wanted to submit an application to the SAR or DAR (Sons of the American Revolution or Daughters of the American Revolution) you'd have to type up your pedigree documenting every generation between you and your Revolutionary War ancestor.

These are links to sample pedigree charts:


If you were to complete a blank pedigree chart by hand, you would start with yourself as the first person, on the extreme left side, then list your father in position #2 and your mother in position #3.

  • Your father's parents would be listed in Position #4 and #5. 

  • Your mother's parents would be listed in position #6 and #7, and so forth. 

More detailed pedigree charts provide birth, marriage and death dates and places.

1st Generation 2nd Generation 3rd Generation
you your parents  your grandparents

Fortunately you don't have to do this by hand, as our modern genealogy software programs print out a pedigree chart at the click of a mouse!  You've typed the individual data into the database, and the program arranges the text on the page in pedigree chat format on your command!

  Pedigree charts are useful for showing each direct line grandparent. However, when doing research at a public library or archive, I also bring along a complete index of every name in my computer database. (Yes, all 9,000 of them!) I couldn't possibly bring every family group sheet, since they are housed in sixty-three 4" notebooks in my computer room.  

WHY? Invariably, I'll run across information written by the sibling of a person on my pedigree chart. In the commentary, the parents are perhaps mentioned by name. I would discount such a diary entry if I didn't realize that the writer was a brother or sister of someone on my pedigree chart. Here's an example of what I mean:

A few years ago, my father sent me a photocopy of an autobiographical manuscript which a friend had given him on the Wasden family. The late-in-life recollections were composed by Ellen (Wasden) Christensen recalling her travel at 9 years of age to the US in 1851. She briefly mentioned her parents and their efforts to gain enough money to cross the plains to settle in southern Utah. The focus of her autobiography was naturally her marriage and the raising of her children. 

If I had only looked at my pedigree chart, I would not have recognized this woman was the older sister of our Eliza Marie Wasden who was born in Utah after the immigration. I discovered their by looking at my every-name listing, then finding the family group sheet where Ellen is listed as the 4th of 11 children. My direct line ancestor Eliza is the youngest. 

Ellen provided first-hand proof of her parent's names, birthdate and birthplaces. You can imagine how much I treasure this older daughter's perspective on the hard work and kindness of her parents during the difficult sailing across the Atlantic, the time taken in St. Joseph working to outfit the wagon, and the grueling journey across the Oregon Trail to Salt Lake. My great-grandmother Eliza just wasn't around to report the trip. 

Perhaps now you see the necessity of using not only a pedigree chart but family group sheets and an every name index of the names in your genealogy database. 

Myrt :)
Daily Genealogy Columnist
America Online Keyword: roots or myrtle


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