Not a Bigger Chart–I Want the Multiple Relationship Chart

[opinion alert]

Legacy Software had the “World’s Largest Family Tree Chart” at Rootstech in Salt Lake City recently. I wish they’d find a different type of family group to display instead of printing a chart that extends “as far back as possible.” It tends to make some think that the goal of research is simply to get back as far back as you can and that if your tree doesn’t go back that far then you simply must be doing it wrong or haven’t tried hard enough.

There has to be a way they can make a “big tree” without extending a pedigree back several thousand years. I get the impact a “big chart” makes in a convention center. But there has to be another way to put that many names on a chart without going back to the beginning of time to do it.

I’ve never been impressed with “large” charts, especially charts that claim to go back to Adam and Eve or even to the early Christian Era. There are a variety of issues with the accuracy of genealogical connections extending that far back.

A few random thoughts:

  • Bigger is not always better.
  • Further back is not always better.
  • Being related to famous people is a questionable research goal.
  • Accuracy (or at least being as accurate as possible) should be the focus.

The chart I want is one that easily shows multiple relationships:

  • Like my grandfather and his first cousin–who was also his second cousin–and was also his third cousin.
  • My third grade Sunday School teacher who was my Grandpa Neill’s first cousin and was married to my Granddad Ufkes’ first cousin, who was also my great-grandma Habben’s first cousin.
  • My great-great-grandparents were step-siblings; his niece married her brother; his sister (mother of the niece) married her cousin as her second husband; and his other sister had a child with another of her cousins.
  • One that easily shows my 6 descents from several different 16th century couples in the villages of Wiesens and Holtrop in northern Germany.

Multiple relationships (beyond double cousins) and pedigree collapse make for more interesting charts than simply a long line back to the beginning of time.




5 thoughts on “Not a Bigger Chart–I Want the Multiple Relationship Chart

  1. YES!! Me, too! I want to have a clear path to the uncle and niece who married and had my great grandfather. Every program wants her parents to be my great great uncle/aunt OR my great great grandparents but not both. And I have a Mayflower ancestor who with her second…..or was it 3rd husband became my something after she married into a different branch of the family. And then descendants of them both married each other. I have so many spiderwebs that only I know. My family just kept marrying each other generation after generation. You’d think we were royalty!

  2. An easy way to do this – at least for me! – is to use your favorite draw program. I use Corel but there are free programs such as Open Office which has a drawing app. You can go in either direction (ancestors or descendants) or both so it’s adaptable to whatever you are trying to graph. By using the old-fashioned method, ie using horizontal lines for marriages and vertical lines for children or parents, you can show all kinds of connections. These lines can be duplicated, resized, and moved to any spot on the page (I use legal size landscape mode which most printers can do). If you’ve given one family group too much space, simply move it over or resize it. Font sizes are easily changed; I use blue for names that I am not positive about; and sometimes color the vertical lines to indicate a male/family line for clarity. And it – at least Corel – can also be saved and sent as a PDF to others in your family. Voila!

    • This sounds promising – will have to practice this a bit. Would be a much easier way to show that Henry married second wife – sister of first – married 3rd wife – cousin of the first two. Hard for people to visualize on a standard chart.

    • A genealogy software should be able to do that and so far have found only one that does and it is French: Winancetres. It shows the implexes in the family. I only spotted two in my tree, but the software revealed 5 that I couldn’t tell.

  3. Cheryl Rothwell says:

    Has anyone tried Branches? It’s a program that visualizes your chart in a different way. I have spider webs, never really thought checking them out on that because I am so bedazzled by the interesting new view. I believe there is still a free trial for PC. It’s also on Apple – well, ipad – and I have begged for an Android app. I have no connection.

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