Visual Your Ancestral Line With a Pedigree Chart

Visual Your Ancestral Line With a Pedigree Chart

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  1. A pedigree chart is a great tool for helping you to visualize who is on your ancestral line and how they are related.  You may not have all the details to complete a pedigree chart at first, but starting with what you know about your ancestors will help you see the information you are missing.

    Free Charts

    The most basic type of pedigree chart covers four to five generations.  Most family history databases such as PAF 5.2 and PAF Companion, available for free at, allow you to print a pedigree chart with photographs and other genealogical forms.  A five generation pedigree chart is also available for free at

    Recording Names

    If you complete a pedigree chart for yourself, your name should be recorded in the number one position.  Always record females using their maiden names.  Record your father’s name in the number two position on the chart, and the top portion of the chart will be for recording your paternal ancestors.  Your mother goes in the number three position and your maternal ancestors should be recorded on the bottom half of the chart.

    Recording Dates

    When you record dates on genealogical forms like a pedigree chart, you should always record the day of the month first, the month, and then the year.  This means birth, marriage, and death dates should look like this:

    B.  4 Oct 1803

    M. 14 November 1827

    D.  3 April 1882

    Recording Places

    The format for recording places is as follows:

    city, county, state


    Champaign, Champaign, Illinois

    Make sure each level of government is represented.  This will make it easier for you to identify further resources to document your ancestors.

    How to Discover More

    All information that you record on the pedigree chart should be accurate, and you should reference sources.  After you complete the chart and you notice that you still are missing information about your ancestors, select one person who you would like to learn more about.  You can discover more about the ancestor you choose by doing the following:

    • Interview family members to find out what they know.
    • Search for birth, marriage, or death records that may exist.
    • Visit and learn more about the geographical area where you ancestor lived and any records that may be available from that area.

    After you have completed your pedigree chart, share it with other family members.  Hopefully, very family member will be able to see the ancestor from which you both descend.

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