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Joan Stewart Smith

How To Fill Out Your Ancestry Pedigree Chart

Get a Free Pedigree Chart & Start Your Family Tree

Vintage photo two young girlsIf you’ve ever wondered who your ancestors are, there’s no better time than now to find out – especially with the plentiful genealogy online resources available for you to tap into. When you start your family tree, a good first step is to fill out your pedigree chart, one of the most widely used standard forms in genealogy.

But not many people are sure what a pedigree chart looks like or how to complete it properly, although it’s quite simple once you learn about it step-by-step. The word “pedigree” brings to mind dog breeds and racehorses, but the shining star of your pedigree chart is you.

The pedigree chart is basically a family tree turned sideways instead of upward, giving you a snapshot of essential info about your direct lineage, which you also can use to create an online family tree on genealogy websites or software. At first glance, anyone can follow the pedigree chart’s path between you and your direct-line ancestors, and check out their names, dates and places of birth, marriage and death (“BMD”).

Free Downloadable Pedigree Chart

Where do you find a blank pedigree chart? You can download this free interactive pedigree chart, which you can print and fill out by pencil.  Or you can enter the info directly on the form and then print it out.

Blank Pedigree ChartNow that you have the blank chart, you’re ready to start. Remember this first step of your quest is only to fill in the information that you already know, so don’t be frustrated if you think you should know more. You’ll start your detective work later when you ask other family members and begin to search for the missing information.

1. Write the number “1” where it says “Chart No.” in the upper right-hand corner. Then move your eyes to the far left side of the page. Fill in your name over the line labeled Number 1. Write the info requested under your name. If you’re married, write your spouse’s name on the line below. Now record your father’s name in the Number 2 spot and your mother’s name in the Number 3 spot, and fill in the info under each.

2. Before you continue, here are a few formatting tips: Capitalize all surnames such as JOHNSON or RODRIGUEZ.

Use only maiden names for all the women on your chart. If you can’t recall someone’s first and middle name, just leave it blank with spaces to fill in later. If someone has a nickname, enter it in quotes (“Katie”) with their given name. If you’re just not sure about something you wrote, flag it with a question mark in brackets.

3. Write dates down as “day month year,” so for example, you will record, “7 Sep 1955.” You don’t need to add punctuation after the month’s abbreviation. You won’t know all dates, of course, so simply leave the spot blank or write “abt. 1901.” When you list places, write the sequence “city, county, state, country” such as “Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA” or “Drangan, Tipperary, Ireland.” There is no need to write “county” with the county name.

4. Focusing back on the chart, do you see how your father’s side is growing toward the top of the chart and your mother’s side toward the bottom? Check out that all males are even numbers, and all females are odd numbers, With that in mind, add your paternal grandparents (your father’s parents) in Number 4 and Number 5, and your maternal grandparents (your mother’s parents) in Number 6 and Number 7.

5. If you can, continue adding names until you’ve filled in the last blanks on your chart, which is usually the 4th generation, your four sets of great grandparents. When you reach this point, you’ll need to start additional pedigree charts. Just re-enter each great grandparent’s name on a newly numbered pedigree chart, referencing his or her number in the original. For example, your great grandfather (your father’s father’s father), who is Number 8 on your chart, becomes ancestor #1 on a new chart.

You never know who you will discover in your tree…

Group of young girls thigh school 1928As you learn more about genealogy, chances are you will use the computer to record and track your research. Your genealogy software will display and print out the standard format of your pedigree chart, and other charts and forms used by genealogists everywhere.

At this point, you’re beginning to grasp just how vast are the many branches of a family tree.  After you finish your first pedigree chart, don’t worry if you can only go back so far. This is only the beginning of your exciting new adventure exploring your family history!

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