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Cavaliere Anthonly Lascio

Cav. Anthony Lascio Chapter - PIP 1
Charting Your Family

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by Cav. Anthony Lascio

Every trade 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.

Finally, the 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 little ingenuity.   

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 both.              


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