Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
A pedigree chart is a graphic representation of an individual's lineage or "pedigree," and may also be referred to as a family tree. The pedigree chart begins with a single individual and then branches out, to follow one's paternal and maternal lineage, hence the family tree metaphor. The pedigree chart and family group record are the two most commonly used forms in genealogy.
Designed to show only the most essential information, the pedigree chart is often referred to as a genealogy "road map," providing for each individual the name; birth date and place; death date and place; and name of spouse. The family group record, on the other hand, provides more detailed information and space to include the children of each union. The standard pedigree chart typically extends back four generations. Earlier generations can then be shown on additional pedigree charts. Larger pedigree charts are also available, showing dozens of generations. Today's genealogy software can print the pedigree chart of any individual in the database, as well as blank pedigree charts that can be filled in by hand. Blank pedigree charts are also widely available for purchase.