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03 August 2010

Genealogical Forms – Pedigree Chart, Family Group Sheet, Research Log (1)

Genealogical Form-Pedigree, Generational or Ancestry Chart
This is the first in a series of three articles explaining basic genealogical forms: pedigree chart, family group sheet, research log.

Welcome. Some of the first questions asked by someone new to genealogy are: “How do I keep all this information straight?” or “I can’t remember the name of my great-great grandmother on my father’s side.” In this series of articles, the new genealogist will be introduced to three forms: the pedigree chart, the family group sheet, and the research log. Each form will be explained with examples and definitions. Have a pencil and copy of the form available to complete your family pedigree chart, family group sheet, or research log.

In research, always work from the known facts to the unknown facts. Example, while searching for the parents of John Schuler of Lockport, Illinois, another John Schuler was discovered. After filling in a pedigree sheet with the dates, one man is clearly the son of the other. Also, other facts, dates, and documents lead to this conclusion. A written pedigree chart displays this lineal line of descendants.

In order to fill in the forms, a few genealogical definitions are necessary:

A pedigree chart, generational chart, or ancestry chart all refer to the same format of writing a generational list of lineal ancestors.

The surname is a person’s last name. In the example above, SCHULER is the surname. A surname written in capital letters is easily spotted.

The given name is a person’s first name. In the example above, John is the given name.

An ancestor is someone born before the person. In the example above, John SCHULER is the ancestor of John SCHULER, Jr.

A descendant is someone born after the person. In the example above, John SCHULER, Jr. is the descendant of John SCHULER.

A lineal line is in a direct blood line - either ancestral or descendant - such as parent, grandparent, or son. In the example above, John SCHULER, Jr. is the son of John SCHULER.

A collateral line is an indirect blood relative such as a brother, sister, cousin, aunt, or uncle. In the example above, Charles Henry SCHULER is the brother of John SCHULER, Jr.

The paternal side of the family is the father’s blood relatives. As an example, John Jr. and Charles Henry SCHULER’s father is John SCHULER.

The maternal side of the family is the mother’s blood relatives. For example, John Jr. and Charles Henry SCHULER’s mother is Anna VON GUNTEN. Anna VON GUNTEN’s parents are Johannes VON GUNTEN and Elisabetha BUHLER.

The pedigree chart is a four- or five-generation form in lineal format. The form represents a skeleton of your blood relatives with information such as names, dates and places of birth, marriage, and death.

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 in the boxes above your name. Your father’s father, who is your paternal grandfather, is number four. Your father’s mother, who is your paternal grandmother, is number five.

Number three is your mother. Your mother’s ancestors are written in the boxes below your name. Your mother’s father, who is your maternal grandfather, is number six. Your mother’s mother, who is your maternal grandmother, is number seven. Female surnames are the maiden name. Again, if the name is unknown, either leave blank or write unknown. Example, the wife of John SCHULER is Anna VON GUNTEN.

Write all names as surnames and given names; for example, surname - SCHULER, given name, -Charles Henry. Don’t use familiar names such as Uncle Charlie or Cousin Charles. These names are too confusing. If a name is unknown, the space may be left blank or write in unknown.

In genealogy, dates are written as day, month, and year. The dates are to be written out completely without abbreviations. For example, 6/3/10 can be June 3, 1710; June 3 1810; June 3, 1910; June 3, 2010; or March 6, 1710; March 6, 1810; March 6, 1910; or March 6, 2010. The format, 3 June 1910, describes only one date.
Many different styles of pedigree forms are available. Some forms offer room for marriage dates or event
locations. The location of the event is written out in full. In the example above, the family information is Lockport, Will County, Illinois. As city names or county formations change, a future article will explain how to identify locations according to specific dates.

Always write your name with the current date on the chart: “prepared by . . . .” Even as additional information is found, keep these charts to follow your progress.

The form may be printed in many designs. For variety, search or For genealogical terms, search

Now it is time for the new researcher, you, to take a pencil and a pedigree form and fill in your family information.
  • Write your name in the first box.
  • Write your father’s name in the second box.
  • Write your mother’s name in the third box.
  • Write the dates that you know for each person.
  • Write your name and the current date as the preparer on the page.

If you have any questions or comments on your pedigree chart, please contact me.