Pedigree refers to a person's direct ancestors.

The word is derived from the old French name for a genealogical chart which, in turn, comes from pied de grue, literally "foot of a crane." That's because of what the chart looked like. Most early genealogists were French. Standard practice back in the 1400s was to indicate lines of descent with three prongs. The clawlike, three-branched marks used to show succession.

A modern pedigree chart shows a person's pedigree in a graphical format and typically uses lines and/or the relative position of names to make the relationships clear.

Example Pedigree Chart

George Bezanson
b. 16 May 1781
d. after 7 Jun 1821
Jean Jacques Jacob Bezanson
b. 1754
d. 1806
Jean G. Bezanson
b. circa 1708
d. 1755
Catherine Boutilier
b. 7 Jan 1723/24
d. 26 Oct 1796
Anna Maria Ley
b. 27 Aug 1758
d. circa 1835
Joseph Ley
b. 1703
d. 27 Aug 1758
Anna B. E. (?)
b. circa Jun 1726
d. 26 Apr 1803

You can download an attractive free Pedigree Chart that you can fill out by hand yourself at