Saturday, January 4, 2014

Genealogy 101- Starting with A Pedigree Chart

A cousin asked me the other day, "How do I start doing my own genealogy?"

Well, before you go out and buy a genealogy software program, or hire a professional researcher ... you need to figure out what you already know and therefore discover what you don't know about your family.  The best way to do that is to start by filling out a standard blank paper PEDIGREE CHART.

A pedigree chart is not the only chart you will use during your research, but by completing this form first you can better focus your research because you have a master outline showing where there are gaps.

Pedigree charts help you organize the names, dates and places related to your direct biological ancestors (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.) on both your paternal and maternal lines.  Pedigree charts don't contain information about siblings or additional marriages.  Family Group Sheets, which I will cover in a later post, are where you will compile information related to the families of each pair shown on your pedigree chart, including siblings and other marriages.

The most commonly used pedigree charts shows four or five generations on a single page.  I recommend using a four generation chart when starting your research, because it fits best on a single page and will give you enough room to write out details.  Once you are able to move past your fourth generation, it might be time to invest in a genealogy software program.  There are several programs available on the market now, including free versions that can be download, and I will cover these options in a later post.

FREE 4 Generation Pedigree Chart Forms:

Pedigree Chart from website (portrait)

Pedigree Chart from (landscape)

Pedigree Form from KBYU Ancestors tv series (portrait)

You can also find lots of interesting and creative pedigree charts for FREE online with just a simple Google search for "pedigree charts", such as this site: or even a Tigger Family Tree.

Instructions for filling out a pedigree chart:

Start with completing information about yourself on line 1.  Your father’s full name should then be written on line 2, and your mother's full name (.Your mother’s full name before marriage should appear on line 3.
(Male names will always be recorded on even numbers, except for line 1, and female names will always be on odd numbers).

Use maiden names for females.

Write dates using the day, month, year (27 MAY 1955).

Write place names as completely as possible (city, county, state) (Harbor Beach, Huron, Michigan, USA)


Given name: A person’s first name(s).
Surname: A person’s last name or family name.
Maiden name: A female’s surname at birth.
Pedigree: An ancestral line or line or descent.
Pedigree Chart: A chart that indicates a person’s descent
Paternal Line: The line of descent on a father’s side.
Maternal Line: The line of descent on a mother’s side

Let me know if you have any questions, otherwise I'll see you back here next week for a look at using Family Group Sheets.

Love & Aloha,
~Cuzn Amy

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