The above chart is a fan pedigree chart. I first saw one of these at the York Family History Fair a couple of years ago and thought then that they make a very useful way of seeing your progress.
Typically, I then forgot all about it until I did the recent "Organising Your Genealogy" course which I have blogged about previously. [See Pharos for course further details.]
This week, though, I printed off a new set of blank fan charts. You can do this by simply Googling "fan pedigree chart" and choosing your preferred website. There are also sometimes blanks available to print or download in the "learning center" areas of Familysearch or Ancestry.
The reason I did so was to check my progress with a friend's maternal family tree. I have been working on this for some time - having to take a break due to not having enough "dog sleeping hours" in the day when the puppy arrived! - and I was anxious to gauge my progress.
It was actually very gratifying because the fan chart enables you to see clearly how many generations you have gone back on each line and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had done six generations on at least three lines and five on most of the others. I must say, I had not realised, from my pile of notes, quite how many generations I had gone back. Fortunately, her ancestors were all mostly in the same areas and were devout church goers - handily picking churches with registers that ended up on Ancestry!
So as you can see on the chart, you put the name of the "owner" of the tree in the centre bottom circle. The fan then progresses outwards with the boxes getting smaller and smaller (tricky if you are hand writing the chart!) as the generations expand. On the above chart, the main four colours denote the four lines from the owner's grandparents. Within each colour way, the shading denotes the increasing number of different families per generation.
A simple version of a chart like this - with perhaps four generations - is an excellent way to show family history to children. My daughter really understood her grandparents' lines once she saw a simplified fan pedigree chart. You don't even necessarily need colours but a coloured in chart, framed, does look nice - a good gift for grandparents maybe, this festive season?!
The other advantage that this week's exercise has given me is that I can now see where the main gaps in the tree are and I m able to concentrate my efforts on filling these in, rather than just pushing back the lines which have proved easier to follow. I would like to get all lines to six generations as this means 1700's rather than 1800's. And I am so pleased to be saying that - the tree is a real testament to all the people who transcribe all these random church registers and other documents. I salute their efforts. You try reading some of the "original images" on the websites and see whether you would be confident enough to publish what you have deciphered!