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Outline Descendant Tree (ODT)

Report Format

Table of Contents
Roderic A. Davis, 2nd
January, 2000

updated: September, 2001

P.O. Box 118
Hyde Park, NY 12538



The salient characteristics of the ODT (Outline Descendant Tree) report format, as used on this website, are presented here. This format shows the descendants of an ancestor in outline form, where each generation is indented. It is a "depth first" display, as contrasted with a "breadth first" display. Each person's data is displayed on a single line (which may be word wrapped for display purposes). The ODT is a very compact representation.



The various features described in this report are represented in the programs that produce them. The individual ODTs have not been uniformly regenerated with each advance, however, so you may see ODTs online in various stages of dress. Eventually, they will all be regenerated at one time or another, so they will "catch" up" with the current design by attrition.


The data is presented in top down fashion from a single ancestor to each of his or her descendants. The form is that of an outline, with individuals in successive generations increasingly indented from the left margin. Each individual is presented, followed by his or her spouse, and then by their children. Each child is treated in the same way.

Content summary

The header of the report contains the following:
  1. The title of the report, with the principle surname and the number of distinct ODTs included on the page.
  2. A list of known name forms (spellings) considered equivalent.
  3. A list of the progenitors of each family ODT On this page, in the form of hotlinks to the appropriate sections
  4. A count of the number of individuals in the ODTs on this page
  5. A hotlink to the xref links at the bottom of the page
  6. A reminder if this is a Collateral Line
  7. A link to a celebrity page for this family, if one has been prepared
  8. A link to a family photo gallery, if one has been prepared
  9. Special notes pertaining to this family
The following is presented for each individual:
  1. Name
  2. Birth date and place ("b:")
  3. Death date, place and cause ("d:")
  4. Reference Number ("#:")
Spouses will additionally have:
  1. Marriage date and place ("m:")
  2. Father's name ("Father:")
  3. Mother's name ("Mother:")
All names are presented with the surname first and set in upper case. Names include all titles and suffixes. For example:
WHITE, Sir Edward, of Cranbrook KEN, Immigrant

Single surname

Generally, each file is devoted to a single surname. Offspring of female family members are usually not represented, although there are exceptions. (see Collateral families)


The progenitor (male) is the common ancestor of all the people in the report, except for the spouses' parents, who are listed mainly for identification purposes. If you think of the family as a (mathematical) tree,  the progenitor sits at its apex.


The ODT is presented in a fixed-pitch font. This makes it easier to control the formatting.
Descendants of Thomas Starre
1   STARRE, Thomas
 2   STARR, Agnes
 2   STARR, Katherine
 2   STARR, Thomas [2]
.. 3   STARR, Jehosephat
.. 3   STARR, Dr. Comfort 
.... 4   STARR, Ruth
.... 4   STARR, Dr. Thomas [a1]
.... 4   STARR, Judith
.... 4   STARR, Mary
.... 4   STARR, Elizabeth
.... 4   STARR, Rev. Comfort [2]
.... 4   STARR, John B., Housewright
.... 4   STARR, Samuel
.... 4   STARR, Hannah
.... 4   STARR, Lydia
.. 3   STARR, Nostrength
.. 3   STARR, Moregifte
.. 3   STARR, William
.. 3   STARR, Mercy
.. 3   STARR, Constant
.. 3   STARR, Suretrust
.... 4   ROUSE, Mercy
.. 3   STARR, Thomas [3]
.. 3   STARR, Standwell
.. 3   STARR, Judith
.. 3   STARR, Truth-Shall-Prevayel
.. 3   STARR, Joyfolle
.... 4   STARR, John
.... 4   STARR, Jehosephat
.... 4   STARR, Thomas
.... 4   STARR, Elizabeth
.... 4   STARR, Joseph
.... 4   STARR, Joyfull
.... 4   STARR, Moregift
.... 4   STARR, Myriam
.... 4   STARR, Jehosephat
.. 3   STARR, Constante
.. 3   STARR, Anne
.. 3   STARR, Beloved
 2   STARR, Ann
 2   STARR, Joaias
 2   STARR, Samuel
 2   STARR, Hannah
 2   STARR, John


Some genealogical reports use a breadth-first presentation order. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register report format is perhaps a familiar example. All the individuals in each successive generation are presented in turn; All of generation 1, followed by all of generation 2, then generation 3, then four, then five, and so on.

The ODT uses a depth-first presentation order, which may be familiar to you as an outline. In an outline, each topic is followed by all its subtopics. So the first major topic is followed by all its subtopics and their subtopics before the second major topic is introduced. The document you are reading is laid out this way.

The outline form may be described in graph theory as a left- or right-list scan of a tree. If you visualize the family as a branching tree, with the progenitor at the top, and his descendants arranged below him, a left-list scan goes like this:

  1. Present the individuals beginning with the progenitor and descendants following a path down the extreme left edge of the tree.
  2. When the bottom is reached, backtrack until a family is encountered with unexplored branches (offspring) to the right. 
  3. Take the left-most of the unexplored branches, again proceeding downward along the extreme left edge of that subtree.
  4. Repeat from step 2 until the apex is again reached by backtracking along the right-most branch.
This procedure is guaranteed to visit each node in a tree at least once. Simple adjustments accommodate multiple marriages. The end result looks like an outline, hence the name.

The example to the right shows how this works for a limited number of generations, and no spouses shown.


Successive generations are indented by the width of one character. This, together with the generation numbering, is usually sufficient to allow visual groupings. 

Word Wrap

In order to facilitate printing of the ODT, long lines are presented in pieces so that no data escapes beyond the print margins. Continued lines are further indented a single character, and prefixed by a dash. The wrap algorithm avoids separating certain elements of the data on different lines.


The two partners in a marriage are (in presentation order):
  1. The family member (a direct descendant of the progenitor)
    • Preceded by a generation number and a corresponding indentation. The progenitor's generation is "1", and successive generations are 2, 3, and so on.
  2. The spouse
    • Follows on the next line
    • A mid-line dot replaces the generation number, aligned under the partner's generation number.
    • Spouse's name is prefixed by a plus sign (+). 
3   MORGAN, Charles, of Gravesend b: 1648 New Amsterdam...
•   +FEAKE, Elizabeth b: 1633-1670 d: #: FEAK33* ...

See also multiple spouses, below.

Intrafamilial marriages

In cases where both partners are family members, i.e. descendants of the progenitor, the pair will appear twice in the report -- once at each partner's place in the outline as a descendant. Their rôles as spouse are reversed in each place, of course. Listing of offspring from the marriage is suppressed in the second instance. 

These duplicated individuals will be made apparent by prefixing the names of the pair with a bracketed number [N], indicating that the individual also appears elsewhere in the report. (see "Duplicated Individuals")

Parents of

If known, the spouse's parents will be indicated as "Father:" and "Mother:". Only their names are shown.

Multiple spouses

If a family member married more than once, the additional spouse will appear in marriage order following the family of the first spouse (if any). Each additional spouse will be preceded by a line saying, for example:
5   [6] MORGAN, Capt. James [2] b: 02 Apr 1716 ...
•   +Helena #: MORG931 ...
(descendants by 1st wife)
*2nd Wife of [6] James Morgan:
•   +MOREHOUSE, Ann b: 14 Sep 1718 d: 05 Nov 1755 ...
(descendants by 2nd wife)
*3rd Wife of [6] James Morgan:
•   +FICTITIOUS, Betty
(descendants by 3nd wife)
The asterisk will be aligned with the generation number of the indicated spouse, making it easier to find him or her. 

The "[6]" key links the multiple appearances of James Morgan in the report. (See also Links: Within the ODT)


blue Unvisited link
red Selected link
purple Visited link
Throughout the text of the ODT you may see certain items highlighted by your browser to indicate that they are hotlinks. A mouse click on them will switch your view to somewhere else. Normally, these items will be underlined and displayed in a different color, as shown in the table. Note that browsers differ in this area, and some allow you to specify your own colors. 

To other ODTs

When instances of intermarriage between members of different families occur, these are represented in a way that facilitates transition between the files. The two individuals are present is each file. The spouse in each case is the individual belonging to the other family, and that surname will be a hot link which will take you to that person's line in his/her family. In that file, the other partner is the spouse, with a link back to her/his family file entry. 

It sounds a lot more complicated than it really is.

Summary of links
All the links to other ODTs will be reprised at the end of the report.

To thematic material

In cases where additional material pertaining to an individual exists on the site, there will be a link from the individuals Reference Number (#:) to the appropriate page. This is usually because the individual enjoys some degree of fame or notoriety.

Within the ODT

There may also be hotlinks to other places within the same ODT: In each case, the individual is identified by a prefixed bracket with a unique (within the subfamily) identifying number. The numbers will be hotlinks to the next occurrence, or to the first from the last occurrence. (See Spouses: Multiple Spouses for a working example)

Elemental forms


Names have the following form:
SURNAME, title given names, suffixes
Any part may be omitted. The name will never end in a comma, nor will it contain successive commas. The surname is always presented in upper case.

There may also be certain bracketed numbers within the name.

  • {231}: (braces, curly brackets) These are identifying numbers from an authoritative published source.
  • [3b]: (square brackets) These are nonce identifiers assigned by me to distinguish like-named individuals, or to identify a generation number.
These bracketed figures should not be confused with prefixed bracketed numbers used to identify duplicated individuals.
  • (surname): The true surname is unknown, and the surname of the husband is used in its place.
  • (infant): An infant with unknown name
  • (3sibs): A number of siblings are grouped together under this one "name" to indicate their existence when further details are either unknown or not germane.
  • <unmarried>: Used as a spouse name to explicitly indicate that the individual was known to have never married.
This "field" is used to record supplementary information:
  • Extended titles: e.g.
    • Duke of Northumberland (or "Duke Northumberland")
    • 5th Earl of Sunderland (or Earl5 Sunderland)
  • Degrees and honors: e.g.
    • DD - Doctor of Divinity
    • KBE - Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
    • Kt - Knight
    • LLD - Doctor of Law
  • Occupations: e.g.
    • Esq. - a lawyer or an elected official
    • Farmer
    • HC - House of Commons
    • Housewright
    • MC - Member of Congress (USA), Military Cross (UK)
    • MP - Member of Parliament
    • Shipwright
    • 41st POTUS - President Of The United States
  • Places of residence: e.g. 
    • of Hartford CT - note omitted comma
  • Special feats: e.g.
    • Passenger - (of Mayflower, 1620)
    • Signer - (of Declaration of Independence) 
  • Military service: e.g. (V:=veteran of)
    • V:KPW - King Philip's War
    • V:RW - Revolutionary War
    • V:SR - Shay's Rebellion
    • V:1812 - War of 1812
    • V:CSA  - Civil War (Confederate States of Americas)
    • V:CW - Civil War (Union)
    • V:SAW - Spanish-American War
    • V:WW1 - World War I
    • V:WW2 - World War II
    • V:KW - Korean War
    • V:VN - Viet Nam


All dates are presented in this format: (de mmm yyyy), e.g. (09 Jan 2000). This form combines brevity with unambiguity.
In cases where actual dates are unknown it is useful to bound the possibilities by supplying an estimated date. Careful estimated date ranges can facilitate future researches. Ranges are usually compiled from other known facts, such as the dates for burial (death will usually have preceded this date), baptism (which customarily shortly follows birth) or other known dates. A bounded range (from-to) is preferred to an unbounded range (e.g. Bef. 1999) because of the unbounded nature of the latter. A death date estimated as "Aft. 1800" is technically bounded on the upper end by today's date, but the true date is likely much earlier than that!
Range (e.g. yyyy-yyyy)
After, Before, About
Symbol Meaning Other
Before this Bef.
After this Aft.
About, circa Abt., ca.
Double Dates (e.g. 1543/44)
These estimates indicate that the event occurred during the period when two different calendars (Julian and Gregorian) were in simultaneous use. The first year is the Julian, or Old Style (O.S.), year, and the second is the Gregorian, or New Style (N.S.) year, For a reasonable explanation of double dates, see "Family Tree Maker's Genealogy Site:  Troubleshooting -- FTM for Windows: Double Dates".

These are estimates because the format does not account for the difference in days between the two calendars.

Other forms

Other special death date forms include the following, which are useful when exact dates are unknown:
  • Child
  • Dead
  • Deceased
  • Infant
  • Stillborn
  • Reference Numbers (#:)

    These are used to uniquely identify individuals. No two individuals within the site will have the same reference number. These have an alphabetic prefix which identifies the family to which the person belongs.


    These are generally in this form:
    place, county, state, country
    • Country is usually abbreviated, and will be omitted entirely for places in the USA.
    • State will also be abbreviated, using conventional postal abbreviations.
    • County will be abbreviated where accepted postal conventions exist, e.g. in Great Britain, Ireland, Canada. 
    Special notations
    There are some special notations used in the place field to overcome certain program limitations.
    • % - (percent sign) "probably"
    • ? - (question mark) "perhaps"
    • (bp) - date & place are for baptism (also "bap", "bapt")
    • (bur) - date & place are for burial
    • (inv) - date & place is for estate inventoried (i.e. follows death)
    • (sp) - Sine prole (L.: without issue)
    • (wd) - date & place is for will date (i.e. precedes death)
    • (wp) - date & place is for probated will (i.e. follows death)

    Collateral Families

    A collateral family is a subtree of a family, but with a different surname than that of the parent family. Collateral families are formed by the union of a female from the parent family with an unrelated male. All of their descendants are also descendants of the progenitor of the parent family (and, of course, of the progenitor of the husband's family) but with the husband's surname. I have generally excluded collateral families from this study, with some exceptions where the collateral line contains descendants of particular interest. Note that these collateral descendants are not "second class" relatives in any sense.

    A simplified view, from my perspective, is that I have no ancestor with the surname of these relatives. Think of your own sisters. By my definition, each of them (potentially) heads a collateral family because their offspring will (usually) have a surname different from your own.

    Special considerations


    In the interest of privacy, certain information about living -- or presumed living -- individuals is suppressed.

    What is suppressed? Birth and marriage dates and places for that individual. Living is defined for this purpose as any individual with no death information (date or place) who was born within the past 120 years.

    Duplicated individuals

    Intermarriage will produce instances of duplicated individuals. These folks will be identified by prefixed numbers in square brackets, e.g. [3]. Each such individual has a unique prefix number, e.g. [3], which identifies the same individual wherever s/he appears within an ODT. These prefix numbers in square brackets are not to be confused with infix bracketed figures (see also).
    • SANDYS, Archbishop Edwin [1], M.A., D.D.
    • [6] SANDS, Ray Thomas {318}

    The numbers in the prefix brackets will be hotlinks to the other places in the report where that individual is referenced. The links for a particular individual will be arranged in a "ring", or loop, to that successive jumps will hit all references to that individual and bring you back where you started.

    Multiple ODTs in one (subfamilies)

    There are cases where the same surname pops up in more than one place in the family tree structure. There are surprisingly few cases where these represent different, unrelated families. These families will share the same Reference Number prefix, and will appear in the same ODT, each under their own progenitor:

    Multiple ODTs in one
    Descendants of ? Thomas, of London
    (his family)
    Descendants of John [1] Thomas
    (his family)
    Descendants of John [2] Thomas, (of Wiltshire?)
    (his family)

    If future research connects these families to a common ancestor, no reassignment of Reference Numbers will be required.


    Two symbols may appear in the left margin of the main part of the listing. (shown enlarged here)

    1. The bullet. These mark individuals with surnames from my other families who have not been linked to that other family. I use these as a guide when I'm "fishing" for connections.
    2. * Asterisk. These mark my direct ancestors. All the rest are cousins, aunts and uncles.

    Annotated Salient Featuresnew

    This is where you will find images of selected portions of real ODT pages, with annotations describing important features.
    Subfamily heading

    This little header introduces each subfamily.

    1. Identifies the position of this particular subfamily among all the subfamilies on the page.
    2. These are navigation aids to go to:
      1. The index of all subfamilies on the page (top)
      2. The next lower numbered subfamily (prev). From the first subfamily, this takes you to the subfamily index.
      3. The next higher numbered subfamily (next). From the last subfamily, this takes you to the subfamily index.
    3. Another navigation aid, to the summary of links to other families, which is located at the bottom of the page.
    4. This is a sketch of the pedigree for this subfamily, mentioning only the different family names, which are hotlinks to the corresponding subfamilies on their respective ODT pages. The shaded box is divided by a horizontal bar into two sections.
      Above the bar
      Ancestor families. Reading left to right, this shows the progression from myself (DAVIS) through various ancestral families (SANDS, MORGAN, etc.) in order to the subject family, if it is ancestral, or to an ancestral family common to myself and the subject family (KELLOGG, in this case). The superscripts show the generation numbers where the particular names first appear.
      Below the bar
      Collateral families. This will be populated only if the subject family is a collateral, or cousin, family. Starting with the common family (KELLOGG) on the right, and reading right to left, you will progress through each collateral family in turn until the subject family is reached.
    5. The name and timestamp of the source file for this subfamily.
    6. The subject family name is highlighted thus in the pedigree sketch.
    7. For a collateral subfamily, a link to the progenitor on the page of her family.
    8. The head of this subfamily. Male for an ancestor family. Female for a collateral family. She is a member of a different (parent) family, which explains why her surname is different from the other subfamily members.
    9. For a collateral family, this identifies the ancestral family common to myself and the collateral family, KELLOGG in this case.


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