The Perfect Pedigree Chart

02-cold5x5This Roots to the Past column originally appeared in newspapers in July 2013.

The world wide web changes like the weather in Atlantic Canada. One minute it’s sunny, the next it’s raining; one day a resource exists, and the next it’s gone. Call me a dreamer, but I like finding things exactly where I left them. That’s easy when it comes to my car, not so painless when it comes to an Internet site that once provided information or a tool I occasionally used.

I was reminded of this unpredictability of the web when I searched for pedigree charts. This time I wasn’t mapping my own ancestors. I was trying to determine how a particular famous and well-bred Toggenburg buck fit into the linage of our doe.

It would be the same as if a relative told me that so-and-so was related through Great-grandaunt Maude. I’d want to know the blood line that connected us, so I could refer to them by the proper title. In this case, we were trying to determine exactly how much DNA our doe possessed of this award-winning buck.

Knowing only names and dates can confuse the issue if multiple spouses are involved, so the best method for me is to visualize. The pedigree chart is excellent for this. I can see who is who, in which generation they belong and draw lines if individuals connect in other ways, such as two brothers in one family marrying two sisters in another.

I began my search for pedigree charts on my hard drive. I had saved a few different types and knew they were there…somewhere. I was wrong. In the process of setting up my new computer 18 months ago, I had somehow lost them. No problem. There were plenty of charts on the Internet.

Unfortunately my searching didn’t turn up anything useful. I kept looking, but found nothing that didn’t include a lot of hassle to implement. Then inspiration struck. Instead of selecting ‘web’ in the Internet search engine I chose ‘image’. After all, pedigree charts are images, not just words on a page. Pop! There they were. Dozens of pedigree charts for the viewing.

Whichever way I preferred to display my family (or my goat) tree, there was a chart for it. There were simple line charts, fancy and frilly boxed charts, charts with special boxes to enter names and/or photographs, charts that mapped descendants, ones that charted ancestors and a few that would have me stuck in the middle and family lines going both ways: into the past and into the future.

The charts also came in various shapes: boxed, stretched across two pages, fans and in the image of an actual tree. Whatever I could imagine was there. There were even completed pedigrees in the mix, including those of the Messianic Genealogy, Royal Families, Julius Caesar and the every-day person.

I could list several links to great charts, but the links are too cumbersome. The easiest method to locate the perfect chart for your genealogical task, is to go to your favourite search engine (Google, Dogpile, etc.), enter the key words “pedigree chart” without the quotes and search using the images setting. Not every chart is available for free and not everyone is suitable for printing, but with so many results, it’s easy to find one that is free, printable and perfect for the pedigree you’re mapping.

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