Pedigree Charts

by JL Beeken on 10-13-2010

When I was a kid, my family only bought dogs with pedigree and I think that was my first experience with the word ‘pedigree’. I didn’t understand why they had to be so uppity about it.

One of these days I have to look at the Child Status options in Legacy. My immediate family is a veritable circus of multiple marriages, divorces, step- and adopted children and half-siblings. The total number of recycled people is astronomical. Right off the charts so to speak. Whoever thinks the nuclear family is the bedrock of society hasn’t met mine.

Every time I get all the names memorized someone gets divorced, remarried or has more children. As soon as I hear of another change, I run over to Legacy to enter it in. Invariably with a lack of information that never completes itself through email. What’s the kid’s name? When was she born? What’s the father’s last name? Oh, you mean he’s not the father? Well, who is? Did they get married yet?

It couldn’t have been more than a couple of years ago I offered to make a pedigree chart for my mother using Legacy Family Tree’s Charting add-on. She was really excited. She reads a lot of historical romance novels.

The Making of a Pedigree

So, my mother and her husband, in their advanced years, dragged a tripod down to the ocean and took 48 shots of a seascape, their favorite view in the world. I put them together using AutoStitch and used it as the background for the chart.

Cockeyed PedigreeAfter some discussion of options, my mother decided she wanted to be at the top of the pedigree with her descendants and their spouses. That’s 4 generations and it’s enough so, sure, that made sense.

Stupid me, I tried to do this using my main Legacy database. Click on “Mother” and all else shall follow. Nope. Wrong.

The only way to get the 4 generations was to start with my mother married to my father and I thought … that doesn’t make sense. Why would my mother want a picture hanging in her house of a man she divorced over 50 years ago? But, if I take him out then someone who’s not my father seems to be my father and I don’t even know him. A similar problem repeated across almost every married couple in every generation from one side of the chart to the other, and I thought that might offend some people and I was getting quite a headache from the collision of past, present and outright lies.

I tried discussing this with my mother. She snapped back at me, “No-one cares about the truth!”

I’m not usually lost for words. But that stunned me into silence for a good 10 seconds. We’re trained in genealogy circles to tell The Truth. That’s what we do. We sweat and bleed searching for The g*d* Truth.

And then I realized, of course, pedigree charts don’t do extended and mangled families. Databases are multidimensional; pedigree charts are two-dimensional. And family is what you’ve got right now. A pedigree chart can be a snapshot of loosely-related people at any moment in time. I’ve always preferred the mutts with the twisted ears myself. The chart just needs a different name.

So, I created a new family file, deleted a dozen or so (properly-pedigreed) relatives, rearranged the remaining people, gathered together photos from afar and made the cockeyed chart.

Since the chart went on her wall there has been one more divorce, a second marriage and 3 more babies born. If she wants to she’ll pay someone to remove the frame and the non-glare glass and paste the new pictures onto it. I give up.

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