Thursday, October 24, 2013

FamilySearch Family Tree 7-Generation Fan Charts - What I Do With Them

I was reading the Larry Cragun Family and Genealogy Blog this morning and saw his post Are We Cousins? If Yes, Let's Work on This Together.  He showed his own FamilySearch Family Tree fan chart, and noted that printing it out reveals two more generations.  So you get a seven-generation fan chart.

I've been working occasionally in FamilySearch Family Tree adding families that were not previously included (most of my ancestors from the last five generations were not included) and trying to fix those that have duplicate data, little data or wrong data and relationships.  But how can I determine what needs to be worked on next?  I figured out that making a fan chart would easily show the ancestral families that needed "help" and I could focus on one family at a time to "improve" in the FamilySearch Family Tree.

I decided to make fan charts for each of my grandparents.  Here is the one for my paternal grandmother, Alma Bessie Richmond (1882-1962):

The fan chart above has five generations, including the key person (Alma Bessie Richmond), plus her spouse and five of her seven children.

There is a "Printer" icon on the left side of the screen, just under the "Pedigree | Fan Chart" links.  I clicked on that, and a PDF of the fan chart appeared, which included 7 generations (the key person plus six ancestral generations):

I can save the PDF to my hard drive, and then print it out.  The PDF file size for this fan chart is 794 kb, so it is not large.  An 8.5 x 11 fan chart has about 6-point type, but is readable with a magnifying glass.  A 22 x 17 fan chart will print over four pages, with perhaps 12-point type (I'm guessing).

From the four fan charts, I can now tell which ancestral families may have a problem that's needs my "help" and "improvement."  For instance, on the Alma Bessie Richmond chart, I can see that:

*  The parents of John Richman (1788-1867) are given as John Richman (1765-????) and Jane Child, and parents for John Richman (1765) also.  I have seen absolutely no evidence tying John Richman (1788) to those parents, so I need to work that problem.  First, I will start a Discussion about it, and see if anybody else has evidence that I have not obtained.  I may disconnect John Rivhman (1788) from those parents if there is no evidence presented.

*  The mother of Amy Frances Oatley (1826-1864) is given as Mary Champlin (1797-1863).  My records, and the Oatley book and a Champlin will, say the mother is Amy Champlin (1798-1865).  So I need to review what evidence the Family Tree provides, add my own information and sources, start a Discussion, and correct the parent of Amy Oatley.  Hopefully, that adds the correct parentage of Amy Champlin to the FamilySearch Family Tree and to my fan chart.  If not, I'll have even more work to do!

I see several other entries that need "improvement" and "correcting" on the fan charts I created using the FamilySearch Family Tree for my grandparents.

What I'm doing here is finding the "low hanging fruit" for improvement and correction on the Family Tree. If I can improve my own ancestral families so that I can create accurate fan charts for my grandparents, then I can work further back in time on earlier generations where I know there are a lot of erroneous relationships and facts.

I like the colorful chart that is created by the fan charts, but I wish it showed more generations.  My ideal fan chart would be very large with, say, 12 generations of ancestors from the key person, that could be printed on a fairly large wall chart (something like 5 feet high by 7 feet wide).  I would like to see larger type on that large chart, at least for the latest generations.

I also like Larry's attitude - he's saying "hey, here's my tree, are you on it?  Can you add to it?  Let's work together!"  It's called "collaboration" and "crowd sourcing."  We all need to do it.  Providing a fan chart such as the Family Tree chart to a cousin or another researcher may spark an interest and response that provides critical information about an ancestor or family.

Are you working on your ancestral families in the FamilySearch Family Tree?  Are there research clues for your ancestral families in the Family Tree?  The only way the Family Tree reaches its tremendous potential (and stated FamilySearch goal) as an open, source-centric interconnected family tree with accurate names, dates, places, relationships, events, sources, etc. is if everybody contributes information to the Family Tree.  I'm trying to do my small part.  I hope that all genealogists and family historians do the same.

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


eva goodwin said...

Wow, these are gorgeous! I haven't used this feature of FamilySearch. Thanks for demonstrating.

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to print one of these ever since I read your post and it's not working for me....A new tab opens with this message - We are unable to generate your pedigree pdf at this time. Please try again later.

I have tried different browsers, computers and different people in the tree and on several different this feature actually working and it's operator error? Thanks!