Instructions for

Creating Genealogical Charts

Copyright 1999-2015. Beverly Whitaker, MA
Provided by Genealogy Tutor

Even if you use a computer genealogy database software, you will have occasions when you will want to record information in a standard form.

Then too, if you have access to old genealogical material, you will run across forms containing a lot of good facts to help you get started.

Here are some detailed instructions on how to fill out the two most basic forms used by genealogists.

-- the Pedigree Chart and the Family Group Record.

You have permission to print one copy of the following instructions for your personal use; it is copyrighted material.

~PEDIGREE CHARTS~ (also called Lineage, Generation, or Ancestral Charts)

The most frequently used Pedigree Charts cover four generations; they provide space to insert complete information for the first three generations--names plus dates and places of birth, marriage and death. There is room to show the names of the members of the fourth generation along with a reference for each of any succeeding charts with the vital information recorded on those additional charts.

A Pedigree Chart becomes your road map to the generations. Each person listed is a direct ancestor. You will want to follow both the male and female lines. Charts connect. On each chart, you can complete a line identifying a related chart: "Person #_1_ on this chart is the same as Person #___ on Chart #___." Next to the names of persons in the fourth generation of each chart, you can record the numbers of the continuation charts.

Capitalize the surnames; this makes them stand out.
2. For females, use the maiden names.
3. Add nicknames in quotation marks.
4. Use initials only when you don't know the full name; leave room to add the full name when you have acquired it.
5. Include middle names whenever they are known. Occasionally someone will have as many as four or even five names; your earliest ancestors may have had only one name.

Record dates as in the military system. [Example: 4 July 1776.]

7. Record the place names in this order separated by commas: city, county, state.
[For example: Des Moines, Polk, IA.]
8. Use the accepted 2-letter post office abbreviations for states. For contrast, I use 3 letters for a country, and it appears last.
9. Include the name and location of the cemetery burial place when known.

Use the ahnentafel numbering system as you begin your research. Other systems can be added later if desired. Most commercial genealogy database programs will use a unique system numbering system but will often let you insert your own as well. Some software packages can even be instructed to run the ahnentafel numbers and insert them for you.
a. Number 1 may be male or female. (YOU)
b. All even numbers thereafter are MALE.
c. All odd numbers from 3 on are FEMALE.
d. To find the father of a person, double that person's number.
e. To find the mother of a person, double that person's number and add 1. The wife is always one number higher than her husband is.


~FAMILY GROUP RECORDS~ (also called Family Group Sheets)

Completed Family Group Records will provide the following information: name of husband with the date and place of his birth, marriage, death, burial, and the names of his parents, plus an I.D. number. Similar information appears for the wife and for each of the couple's children and the spouse's name. Most forms offer space also to insert information such as occupation, church affiliation, military service and perhaps places of residence.

The advantage of a Family Group Record over a Pedigree Chart is that it gives you more information about the parents and that it provides the names of all the children, together with their spouses. As you continue searching for your direct ancestors, you often will find your leads by way of these "collateral" lines. You may have difficulty locating your own ancestor, but his brother or brother-in-law may have appeared in more written records and provide helpful clues as a result.

1. For each marriage on your Pedigree Chart, fill out a Family Group Record sheet.

2. Follow the same rules as for the Pedigree Chart with regard to names, dates, and places.

3. The father's vital information should appear at the top of the page and should also include his ahnentafel identification number. The names of his parents should also appear here.

4. The wife's vital information follows that of the husband. List her parents' names also.

5. Next comes a listing of the children, in order of birth when known, and with indication whether male or female. It isn't necessary to include the surname unless the individual took a different spelling; even this would ordinarily appear on the family group record where he/she is a part of a parental couple. However, on a computerized record, because linkage is automatic, you may need to record the surname the first time you enter the individual.

6. Include only one family unit on this chart. If there is a second marriage, it should be recorded on a separate sheet. The name of another spouse should appear on this chart to remind you that there is another marriage and possibly other children.

7. Use the backside to make notes and to document the sources of your information.

Sources for Blank Forms

Group 1: Genealogy Tutor Charts and Forms
Relationship Chart
Pedigree Plotter


Group 2: Family Tree Magazine Charts and Forms
(download either as .txt or .PDF format)

General Research, People or Families, Census Forms, Tombstones or Artifacts

Group 3: Charts and Forms
(.PDF format, download to Acrobat Reader)

Ancestral Chart (Pedigree)
Family Group Sheet

If you are new to genealogy research, you can find help in getting started
at another of my web sites
, Genealogy Tutor Tips.


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Email: Genealogy Tutor Beverly Whitaker


Copyright 1999-2015, Beverly Whitaker