Problems Solved: Uncharted Waters

By Diane Haddad Premium

Q. How is a family tree chart set up? I downloaded a five-generation ancestor chart, but I’m not sure how to complete it.

A. A five-generation ancestor chart, like the one online at <>, shows your pedigree at a glance, starting with the most recent generation on the left. (Several other types of charts are available, including decorative ones.) You’ll include only your ancestors — parents, grandparents, great-grandparents — no aunts, uncles or siblings (record them on a form called a family group sheet). Below the line for each person’s name is space for his birth date and place, and death dare and place.

The name of the man in a couple is listed above the woman’s name (use her maiden name), and their marriage date and place go beneath his name. US locales should include the town, county and state — for example, Gallipolis, Gallia, Ohio. Format dates as day, month, full year: 15 Oct. 1905.

Each ancestor has an Ahnentafel number, which helps you keep track of him or her on family group sheets and other pedigree charts. Double any individual’s Ahnentafel number to get his or her father’s number. Add one to the father’s number, and that’s his wife. On your chart, you’re number 1, your father is 2, your mother is 3, your father’s father is 4 and so on.

At the top of the chart, write 1 for the chart number. Below that, you’ll see “1 on this chart =__on chart #,__.” Go ahead and write is in those spaces, too, because you’re 1 on this chart, and it’s chart # 1. Here’s where the Ahnentafel system really kicks in: Say you learn the name of ancestor 16, your great-great-grandfather, and you want to start a new five-generation chart for his ancestry. That’d be chart #2, for which Great-great-grandpa will be assigned number I. On that chart, you’d fill in the blanks to read “I on this chart = 16 on chart #1.”

See a completed five-generation chart at <>.

From the September 2004 Trace Your Family History