Understanding genealogical charts and forms

By the time that you have information on a few hundred people, it will become nearly impossible to keep all of those ancestors straight. To make life simple, family historians use charts and forms to organize research and make findings easier to understand and share. Some examples include Pedigree charts that show the relationships between family members, Descendant charts that list every person who descends from a particular ancestor, and census forms in which you can record information enumerated about your ancestor during particular years. Some of these charts and forms are available online at sites like Genealogy Today at


The sooner you become familiar with the most common types of charts and how to read them, the sooner you can interpret a lot of the information you receive from other genealogists. (Chapter 2 examines some of these charts and forms in greater detail.)

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