CHARTING YOUR FAMILY
by Cav. Anthony Lascio
requires tools. A major tool of a genealogist is a chart, specifically a
pedigree chart, unless, of course, you are interested in the reverse flow of
you family. In that case, the
tool is a descendent
chart, but more about that later.
To all who dabble
in the scientific yet artful avocation of genealogy, the pedigree chart
remains the cornerstone of recording ancestors in an organized and orderly
fashion, generation by generation, through the centuries.
If, by chance,
you have not seen this format or are unfamiliar with itís structure, a
pedigree chart is a ďstairwayĒ from you or your parents through your
grandparents and then your great grandparents to generations back in time
until no more names are extractable from historical archives.
Each ancestor is paired with their mate/spouse, two by two, just like
the biblical book of Genesis account of Noahís
Ark. Each generation doubles the previous number. It wonít take you too long
to recognize that you have 64 Great-Great-Great-Great Grandparents. Thatís
when you begin to realize you have ďmarriedĒ a project.
Along with each
name is a series of factual data so very necessary to establish identity of
the ancestor. Every name is a
person and every person had a life, hence, a birth date and a birthplace.
The recording of a date of birth may take one of two distinct forms.
The American method lists month followed by day followed by year. The European method shows day followed by month followed by
year. The choice is yours.
Many genealogists prefer the European manner because it accurately
reflects the exact way it was recorded in Europe and, after all, most of a
pedigree chartís names will be those of our European progenitors.
After the date of
birth is the birth place. Again, there are choices strictly up to you, as to how
you wish to note the location of an ancestorís entry into this world. Some
genealogists write the town, country, state and county.
For Italian genealogists, this becomes comune, provincia, regione, and
paese.. Practically speaking, town
(or city) and country is sufficient. You
may also choose to inscribe this information in Italian or English. Given names
should be exactly as recorded on the birth or baptismal document. If grandpa was
born Luigi, donít record him as Louis. As your pedigree chart progresses into
the annals of history, realize that by nature of the pedigree chartsí
configuration, you will experience a diminishing amount of space to work with as
the generations unfold.
After birth, the
next order of business is marriage. Some
pedigree charts merely ask for the date of nuptial bliss, while others ask you
to provide the location or place as well. Careful
here, because it would be presumptuous to assume everyone was married in the
place where they were born. Not so.
pedigree chart deals with the finality of each ancestor, their death.
Once again, a date and a place are most commonly required.
For most of us, this will represent the last data inserted on a pedigree
chart. Realize, however, there are exceptions.
I know of researchers who somehow squeeze in other data which they feel
important enough to display visually on their pedigree chart.
The two most notable examples are dates of emigration and naturalization.
Even though this type of data can become bulky to insert in a limited
space format, it can be accomplished. Iíve seen data in addition to an
emigration date such as: port of embarkation, date of sailing, steamship name
and company, date of arrival, and port of arrival.
Thatís a lot of baggage to include on a chart, but for the most part,
itís only recorded for one or two ancestors and generally at the beginning
where maximum space is available.
Today, many, if not
most genealogists are utilizing electronic means of conducting the business of
their genealogy. That means
pedigree charts are obsolete, archaic, right?
Wrong. First of all,
pedigree charts are still in use on most genealogy software such a Family Tree
Maker or others. Secondly, while
other types of charting methods are available, the standard tried and true
pedigree chart plotting the order of ancestors from first to last, left to
right, is still the most worthwhile manner to visualize your personal history at
a momentís glance and also the easiest way to share your family pride with
relatives and friends. There are also several varying types of charts which
present the structure or format differently.
So donít give up on this chart. Even
if youíve inserted your entire ancestry on a genealogy software program,
itís still fun and smart to keep a backup pedigree chart done by your own
hand. Where can one locate a chart? There
are several options: a genealogy supply catalog, a book store which carries
genealogy publications and materials, or one of several web sites which allow
you to print out a sample form. You can even create one yourself with very
As mentioned at the
forefront of this column, the reverse method of plotting names, dates and places
is something called a descendent chart. While
a pedigree chart begins with you and travels back into history, the descendent
chart begins with you or your parents and moves forward to the present.
This can be interesting and challenging also.
The major hurdle with the descendent chart, is every time there is a
marriage, birth or death, the chart must be updated.
It is a continuous non stop procedure which some
genealogists find to be a burden. So
satisfy everyone......do both.
© PIP Chapter 1, 2003 ~ Webmaster: LPRoots@yahoo.com ~ page last updated on Tuesday, April 22, 2003