Your Family Tree Genealogy – Choosing the Correct Family Tree Charts For Your Family Search

Carmen D. Lade

How do you determine which type of family tree you want before you begin researching? Everyone putting together their family history is faced with certain choices. Who to include in the research? Where do I begin to research? These are all important questions that will determine the type of chart you decide to build.

When you are researching your family tree, you may just start out by finding out about grandparents and great grandparents but to find out who they really were and to find out those little, but important facts, you might want to consider broadening your research. There are several ways that you can do that, and below you’ll find out about all the different charts that you can follow.

What is a family tree chart?

A family tree by definition is a diagram of someone’s ancestry. So in essence it’s a map or chart showing the members of a family, their relationship to one another and even the dates of birth, marriage and death. But a family tree is so much more than that. Or it can be. Depending on the type of tree you choose to create, it could include all the relatives, spouses and even friends and neighbors of a family.

The types of Family Tree Charts

Mapping out your ancestry is a time consuming activity that involves close attention to detail and a desire to find the answers to those burning questions of who am I? And where did I come from? Before you begin, you need to know that not all charts are made the same.

Pedigree, Direct Lineage or Ascendant Family Tree Chart

The Pedigree Family Tree Chart is sometimes called a Direct Lineage or Ascendant Family Tree. This is perhaps the most common type and the one most people think of when referring to family trees. The pedigree chart begins with you (or a parent, or grandparent) and then follows a single bloodline or family name back through the generations as far back as you can go.

If you are researching your pedigree with both your mother’s and your father’s bloodline, your pedigree chart would start with you, then your parents would be listed, then both sets of grand parents would come next, then all four sets of great grand parents and so on.

If you are researching your father’s surname and bloodline, the pedigree chart starts with you, then next on the chart would be your parents, then your father’s parents, then your grandfather’s parents and so on. In any case, the pedigree chart is the most common and is an excellent starting point for budding genealogists and for anyone interested in tracing their history and their direct bloodline.

Descendant Family Tree Chart

A Descendant Family Tree Chart is the opposite of the Pedigree Chart. This type of chart starts with an ancestral couple pretty far back in the family history and then lists the descendants of that ancestral couple generation by generation until the present. Usually the Descendant Chart is created after the Pedigree Chart is complete as a way to illustrate all known descendants of all lines of the family. The Descendant Chart can then become the outline for writing the family history.

Family Lineage Family Tree Chart

The family lineage family tree chart is similar to the pedigree chart but for one difference. In a family lineage chart, you would include the siblings of your direct lineage or pedigree. So you would include your aunts and uncles, great aunts and uncles and so on. This gives a more complete picture of the family rather than just focusing on your direct bloodline.

Family lineage charts are very helpful in identifying your family members and helps to keep all your ancestors organized. It also is an excellent way to find out about relationships between members of your pedigree and their siblings which can lead to you finding out more interesting facts about your family.

Where to Start?

If you are just starting your genealogy search you might consider developing a Pedigree Chart before you get too deep into your research. One problem that novice genealogists encounter is they get excited about the research and end up losing track of who and what they are researching. Although the research always turns up interesting facts and stories, you might get frustrated that you wasted time or didn’t get to the ancestors you had hoped to find in the time you allotted for research. If you keep track of names, dates and places of your direct family line on a Pedigree Chart, you are less likely to get confused and go off on searches you don’t need to do.

Free Printable Family Tree Charts

Get started right away by downloading a free printable family tree chart. Then begin by filling in all the information you already know like your name, your parent’s names, your grandparent’s names and so on. Now you have the beginning of an excellent Pedigree Family Tree Chart and a guide for your research. Your first research step after filling out the chart as much as you can, is to interview your parents and grandparents if possible and don’t forget that aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings are a good source of information too. Good luck and have fun!

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