Step 1 - Pedigree Chart


For this exercise, we are going to start with the pedigree chart. Why is it called a Pedigree chart? Go to Why a Crane? to find out. The Pedigree chart is what you will begin with. Once you have printed the blank chart, write your full name in space #1. In space #2, write the name of your father. In space #3, write the name of your mother, using her maiden name as her last name (surname).

If you are adopted and do not know the name of one or both of your parents or if one of your ancestors was adopted, click on adoption research. It is a personal preference for adoptees to research adoptive and/or birth parents. Be sure to come back to this spot so you can continue learning how to do your research.

Space #4 on the chart is for the name of the father of your father (your paternal grandfather). In space #5, write the name of the mother of your father (your paternal grandmother) and in space #6, add the name of the father of your mother (your maternal grandfather). Space #7 is for the name of the mother of your mother (your maternal grandmother).

Information about important events in the lives of your ancestors will go on the pedigree chart, such as, the dates and places of births, marriages, and deaths. Birth dates are sometimes abbreviated as b, birth places as bp, marriage dates as m, marriage places as mp, and death dates as d and death places as dp. Spouses are abbreviated as sp. When writing dates, it is good to get into the habit of writing the day, the month abbreviated, and the four digits for the year, i.e. 11 Feb 1889 even though most of us learned in school to write the date as 2/11/89. In some older records or records from other countries, the day is often written first, then the month, and then the year. In the above date, it may be confusing as to what month you are referring, February or November, and what year, 1689, 1789, 1889, or 1989.

Make note of complete locations – town, county, and state; or for places outside of the United States - village, parish, county, and country.

Example:                 Martha GREER

                                b 12 Feb 1807

                                bp Ferguson, Cabell Co (now Wayne Co.) Virginia  (now West Virginia)

                                m  Sept 1823

                                mp Wayne Co., West Virginia

                                d  22 Mar 1891

                                dp Ironton, Lawrence Co., Ohio

                                sp  Rice McCARROLL

Many genealogists prefer to write surnames in all capital letters so they are easily distinguished from given names (first names), including maiden surnames and surnames from previous marriages. When you are quickly reading a chart or document, it is easy to spot surnames when they are all caps and it makes it easier to see if the document pertains to your family.

You will notice that all the even numbered lines will be men in your ancestry and all the uneven numbered lines will be women. Continue filling in the chart until you no longer have information to fill in the blanks. If you are doing the chart by hand, use pencil in case you find more reliable information and need to erase. It is easy to calculate the pedigree numbers for any ancestors; you double the child’s number to determine the father’s number and to determine the mother’s number, you double the child’s number and add one. For example, if you have information on your great-grandfather who is #12 on your pedigree chart, you already know that his father will be #24 and his wife, your great-grandmother, will be #25.

Some researchers like to use these unique pedigree numbers throughout their genealogy and arrange their files by number rather than alphabetically by name. There is a section on numbering and organizing your genealogy; you can go to it now or you can continue reading and wait until it comes up.

Click here to view a pedigree chart that has been filled in.

On this pedigree chart, you are the first generation, your parents are the second, and your grandparents are the third, your great-grandparents are the fourth, etc. Common sizes for pedigree charts are 4, 5, or 6 generations on an 8-1/2” x 11” sheet, and 12 or 15 generations on an oversized sheet. We have seen some very large charts that have 32 generations. Some are fan or circle-shaped, and many poster-sized charts have attractive art work in the background.

When using a smaller pedigree chart such as a 4, 5, or 6 generation chart, you will need to expand the older generations on to additional charts. Most charts have in the upper right-hand corner, Chart No._____. Fill this in with a consecutive number for each new chart. When you expand onto an additional chart, there is usually written near the top on the left-hand side, a phrase for you to fill in showing continuations. For example, Thomas J. MOSELEY is number 8 on your chart, his father, John MOSELEY is number 16 but there is not enough room to fill in information about him. There is usually a phase under his name that states “Above name continued on Chart No. ____.”  Then on the new chart will be a phrase stating “No. 1 on this chart is the same person as No. __ on Chart No. 1.”  Therefore, the person on Chart 2, No. 1 is No. 16 on Chart 1. Sound confusing? Don’t worry, Janna and Daniela will help you out. Just click on Help Me! and ask your question.

When using a genealogy computer program to fill in your chart, it will automatically fill in the numbers for you as it continues on to other charts. Some programs allow you to print out multigenerational charts that can be taped together to form a huge wall size chart.

Step 2 – Family Group Sheets