Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Beginner Genealogy - Pedigree Charts & Family Group Sheets

Recently I asked a family member to review a client folder for me. He is intelligent and has been around people who do Genealogy all his life. He reviewed the folder for me, but said as a layperson he did not understand the charts that I had included. Specifically he did not understand what a Pedigree Chart or Family Group Form was, what the abbreviations meant, or how to interpret them. In this post I will attempt to explain what these charts are and how to read them.

The first Chart that is essential for a genealogist is a Pedigree Chart. See the image below:

The way this chart would be read or filled out would be to put your name on the most left line. Then you might see underneath b, p, m, p, d, p, or pb. These abbreviations are for "born", "place", or "place born", "marriage", "marriage place", "death", "death place". On some charts such as this there is a line underneath the primary or first person. This line is for the spouse of the first person (your) spouse. Next you will add your father, up and to the right, then his father (your grandfather), and on as far as you can go. Then go down and to the right of the primary person (you), and do your mother's line (maternal), her parents, etc. If you need to go to a second sheet, the last grandparent on the right hand of the sheet as the primary person (there will be a number by there name), On the top of the page write this is the same as #? on page #1.

Now for a Family Group Sheet, you are making a chart for just one parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle. This is where you can list/find cousins, who they married, etc. and get a little more detail and insight into one specific family or generation. See example below:

The rest of the chart is pretty self explanatory. You would write the head of the family that you are completing the chart for, then his wife, then their children and all the information that you know about them.

When I started genealogy my goal was to find family photos to scrapbook. It was important for me to find living descendants of these families to obtain photos for their ancestors who would be related to me, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. Quite often if an elderly parent died near a child or in their home, that child would have inherited family photos.

Sometimes if you can't find a grandparent on a record for your direct line on a resource (marriage license, death certificate, obituary, etc.), you might find it on one of their siblings records. This sheet will come in handy for many reasons.

These blank charts are readily available online for you to print for free. I don't want to mention specifically where on my blog, as these may become dated, and I don't want to promote just any particular site. Search any engine to find them, or...

If you have any questions about these forms, please feel free to email me at:


If you'd like some assistance in researching your ancestors, you may find my services and rates on my webpage at: