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A family tree, also called a
genealogy Genealogy (from el, γενεαλογία ' "study of family trees") is the study of , family history, and the tracing of their lineages. Genealogists use oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain inform ...

genealogy
or a
pedigree chart A pedigree chart is a diagram that shows the occurrence and appearance of phenotype right , Here the relation between genotype and phenotype is illustrated, using a Punnett square, for the character of petal color in pea plants. The letters B ...
, is a chart representing family relationships in a conventional
tree structure A tree structure or tree diagram is a way of representing the hierarchical nature of a structure in a graphical form. It is named a "tree structure" because the classic representation resembles a tree, even though the chart is generally upside ...

tree structure
. More detailed family trees, as used in
medicine Medicine is the science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (proced ...

medicine
and
social work Social work is an academic discipline and practice-based profession A Profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing special kno ...

social work
, are known as
genograms A genogram (also known as a McGoldrick–Gerson study, a Lapidus schematic or a family diagram) is a pictorial display of a person's family relationships and medical history. It goes beyond a traditional family tree by allowing the user to visuali ...
.


Representations of family history

Genealogical data can be represented in several formats, for example, as a
pedigree Pedigree may refer to: Breeding * Pedigree chart, a document to record ancestry, used by genealogists in study of human family lines, and in selective breeding of other animals ** Pedigree, a human genealogy (ancestry chart) ** Pedigree (animal) ...
or . Family trees are often presented with the oldest generations at the top of the tree and the younger generations at the bottom. An ancestry chart, which is a tree showing the ancestors of an individual and not all members of a family, will more closely resemble a tree in shape, being wider at the top than at the bottom. In some ancestry charts, an individual appears on the left and his or her ancestors appear to the right. Conversely, a descendant chart, which depicts all the descendants of an individual, will be narrowest at the top. Beyond these formats, some family trees might include all members of a particular surname (e.g., male-line descendants). Yet another approach is to include all holders of a certain office, such as the
Kings of Germany This is a list of monarchs who ruled over East Francia East Francia (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area arou ...
, which represents the reliance on
marriage Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people called spouse A religious marriage. A spouse is a significant other Significant other (SO) is colloquially used as a term ...
to link
dynasties A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). Th ...
together. The passage of time can also be included to illustrate ancestry and descent. A time scale is often used, expanding radially across the center, divided into decades. Children of the parent form branches around the center and their names are plotted in their birth year on the time scale. Spouses' names join children's names and
nuclear families A nuclear family, elementary family or conjugal family is a family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The ...
of parents and children branch off to grandchildren, and so on. Great-grandparents are often in the center to portray four or five generations, which reflect the natural growth pattern of a tree as seen from the top. In a descendant tree, living relatives are common on the outer branches and contemporary cousins appear adjacent to each other. Privacy should be considered when preparing a living family tree. The image of the tree probably originated with that of the
Tree of Jesse The Tree of Jesse is a depiction in art of the ancestors of Jesus Christ, shown in a branching tree which rises from Jesse of Bethlehem, the father of King David. It is the original use of the family tree as a schematic representation of a gene ...

Tree of Jesse
in medieval art, used to illustrate the
Genealogy of Christ The New Testament provides two accounts of the genealogy of Jesus, one in the Gospel of Matthew and another in the Gospel of Luke. Matthew starts with Abraham, while Luke begins with Adam. The lists are identical between Abraham and David, but d ...
in terms of a prophecy of
Isaiah Isaiah ( or ; he, , ''Yəšaʿyāhū'', "God God, in monotheistic thought, is conceived of as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith Faith, derived from Latin ''fides'' and Old French ''feid'', is confidence or trus ...

Isaiah
(Isaiah 11:1). Possibly the first non-biblical use, and the first to show full family relationships rather than a purely
patrilineal Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship In , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact ...
scheme, was that involving family trees of the classical gods in
Boccaccio Giovanni Boccaccio (, , ; 16 June 1313 – 21 December 1375) was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch, and an important Renaissance humanist. He was known par excellence as the Certaldese, and one of the most important figur ...

Boccaccio
's ''
Genealogia Deorum Gentilium ''Genealogia deorum gentilium'', known in English as ''On the Genealogy of the Gods of the Gentiles'', is a mythography Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales o ...
'' ("On the Genealogy of the Gods of the Gentiles"), whose first version dates to 1360.


Common formats

In addition to familiar representations of family history and genealogy as a tree structure, there are other notable systems used to illustrate and document ancestry and descent.


Ahnentafel

An ''
Ahnentafel Seize quartiers coat of arms display document (1786) An ''ahnentafel'' (German language, German for "ancestor table"; ) or ''ahnenreihe'' ("ancestor series"; ) is a genealogical numbering system for listing a person's direct ancestors in a fixed ...

Ahnentafel
'' (
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
for "ancestor table") is a
genealogical numbering systemImage:Eytzinger - Thesaurus principum.jpg, 300px, The first Ahnentafel, published by Michaël Eytzinger in ''Thesaurus principum hac aetate in Europa viventium'' Cologne: 1590, pp. 146-147, in which Eytzinger first illustrates his new functional theo ...
for listing a person's direct ancestors in a fixed sequence of ascent: # Subject (or
probandIn medical genetics Medical genetics is the branch of medicine that involves the diagnosis and management of hereditary disorders. Medical genetics differs from human genetics in that human genetics is a field of scientific research that may or m ...
) # Father # Mother # Paternal grandfather # Paternal grandmother # Maternal grandfather # Maternal grandmother and so on, back through the generations. Apart from the subject or
probandIn medical genetics Medical genetics is the branch of medicine that involves the diagnosis and management of hereditary disorders. Medical genetics differs from human genetics in that human genetics is a field of scientific research that may or m ...
, who can be male or female, all even-numbered persons are male, and all odd-numbered persons are female. In this
scheme
scheme
, the number of any person's father is double the person's number, and a person's mother is double the person's number plus one. This system can also be displayed as a tree:


Fan chart

A fan chart features a half circle chart with concentric rings: the
person of interest "Person of interest" is a term used by law enforcement in the United States, Canada and other countries when identifying someone possibly involved in a criminal investigation Criminal investigation is an applied science that involves the study ...
is the inner circle, the second circle is divided in two (each side is one parent), the third circle is divided in four, and so forth. Fan charts depict paternal and maternal ancestors.


Graph theory

While family trees are depicted as trees, family relations do not in general form a
tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only wood plants with se ...
in the strict sense used in
graph theory In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no gen ...
, since distant relatives can mate. Therefore, a person can have a common ancestor on both their mother's and father's side. However, because a parent must be born before their child, an individual cannot be their own ancestor, and thus there are no loops. In this regard, ancestry forms a
directed acyclic graph In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...

directed acyclic graph
. Nevertheless, graphs depicting
matrilineal Matrilineality is the tracing of kinship through the female line. It may also correlate with a social system in which each person is identified with their matriline – their mother's Lineage (anthropology), lineage – and which can inv ...
descent (mother-daughter relationships) and
patrilineal Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship In , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact ...
descent (father-son relationships) do form trees. Assuming no common ancestor, an ancestry chart is a perfect binary tree, as each person has exactly one mother and one father; these thus have a regular structure. A Descendant chart, on the other hand, does not, in general, have a regular structure, as a person can have any number of children or none at all.


Notable examples

Family trees have been used to document family histories across time and cultures throughout the world.


Africa

In Africa, the ruling dynasty of Ethiopia claimed descent from
King Solomon of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg, Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco (altepetl), Texcoco King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female eq ...

King Solomon
via the
Queen of Sheba The Queen of Sheba ( he, מַלְכַּת שְׁבָא‎, ''Malkaṯ Šəḇāʾ''; ar, ملكة سبأ, Malikat Saba; gez, ንግሥተ ሳባ) is a figure first mentioned in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is ...

Queen of Sheba
. Through this claim, the family traced their descent back to the House of David. The genealogy of
Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a that is characterized by , , a form of government, and systems of communication (such as ). Civilizations are intimately associated with additional char ...

Ancient Egypt
ian ruling dynasties was recorded from the beginnings of the Pharaonic era circa 3000 BC to the end of the Ptolomaic Kingdom; although this is not a record of one continuously-linked family lineage, and surviving records are incomplete. Elsewhere in Africa,
oral traditions Oral tradition, or oral lore, is a form of human communication Human communication, or anthroposemiotics, is the field dedicated to understanding how human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of prima ...
of genealogical recording predominate. Members of the
Keita dynasty #REDIRECT Keita dynastyThe Diallo dynasty ruled pre-imperial and imperial Mali from the 11th century into the early 17th century. It was a Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam, a Monotheism, monotheistic Abrahamic religio ...
of Mali, for example, have had their pedigrees sung by
griot A griot (; ; : jali or jeli (in : , ''djeli'' or ''djéli'' in French spelling); : kevel or kewel / okawul;. Regional Office for Education in Africa, ''Educafrica, Numéro 11'', (ed. Unesco, Regional Office for Education in Africa, 1984), p. ...

griot
s during annual ceremonies since the 14th century. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, many ruling clans–most notably those descended from
Oduduwa Oduduwa was a Yoruba people, Yoruba God king, divine king. According to tradition, he was the holder of the title of the ''Olofin'' of Ile-Ife, the Yoruba holy city. He ruled briefly in Ile-Ife, Ife, and also served as the progenitor of a number of ...
–claim descent from the legendary King Kisra. Here too, pedigrees are recited by griots attached to the royal courts.


The Americas

In some pre-contact Native American civilizations, genealogical records of ruling and priestly families were kept, some of which extended over several centuries or longer.


East Asia

There are extensive genealogies for the ruling dynasties of China, but these do not form a single, unified family tree. Additionally, it is unclear at which point(s) the most ancient historical figures named become mythological. In Japan, the ancestry of the
Imperial Family A royal family is the immediate family of kings/queens Queens is a borough of New York City, coextensive with Queens County, in the U.S. state of New York. It is the largest borough of New York City New York City (NYC), often simp ...
is traced back to the mythological origins of Japan. The connection to persons from the established historical record only begins in the mid-first millennium AD. The longest family tree in the world is that of the Chinese philosopher and educator
Confucius } Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; or commonly zh, s=, p=Kǒngzǐ, labels=no; ) was a Chinese philosopher Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring States period (), ...

Confucius
(551–479 BC), who is descended from King Tang (1675–1646 BC). The tree spans more than 80 generations from him and includes more than 2 million members. An international effort involving more than 450 branches around the world was started in 1998 to retrace and revise this family tree. A new edition of the Confucius genealogy was printed in September 2009 by the
Confucius Genealogy Compilation CommitteeThe Confucius Genealogy Compilation Committee (孔子世家谱续修工作协会) is responsible for collecting, collating and publishing the 2,500 years' worth of genealogical data associated with Confucius } Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūz ...
, to coincide with the 2560th anniversary of the birth of the Chinese thinker. This latest edition was expected to include some 1.3 million living members who are scattered around the world today.


Europe and West Asia

Before the
Dark Ages Dark Ages or Dark Age may refer to: History and sociology *Dark Ages (historiography), the use of the term ''Dark Ages'' by historians and lay people **Byzantine Dark Ages (7th–8th centuries), period of large-scale transformation but obscure du ...
, in the
Greco-Roman The term "Greco-Roman world" (also "Greco-Roman culture" or ; spelled Graeco-Roman in the Commonwealth), as understood by modern scholars and writers, refers to geographical regions and countries that culturally—and so historically—were ...
world, some reliable pedigrees dated back perhaps at least as far as the first half of the first millennium BC; with claimed or mythological origins reaching back further.
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...
clan and family lineages played an important part in the structure of their society and were the basis of their intricate system of personal names. However, there was a break in the continuity of record-keeping at the end of
Classical Antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, ...
. Records of the lines of succession of the
Pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state o ...

Pope
s and the Eastern Roman Emperors through this transitional period have survived, but these are not continuous genealogical histories of single families. Refer to
descent from antiquityIn European genealogy, a descent from antiquity (DFA or DfA) is a proven unbroken line of descent between specific individuals from ancient history and people living today. Descents can readily be traced back to the Early Middle Ages, but beyond tha ...
. Many noble and aristocratic families of European and West Asian origin can reliably trace their ancestry back as far as the mid to late first millennium AD; some claiming undocumented descent from Classical Antiquity or mythological ancestors. In Europe, for example, the pedigree of
Niall Noígíallach Niall ''Noígíallach'' (Old , Old Irish Old Irish (''Goídelc''; ga, Sean-Ghaeilge; gd, Seann Ghàidhlig; gv, Shenn Yernish or ; Ogham, Old Irish: ᚌᚑᚔᚇᚓᚂᚉ), sometimes called Old Gaelic, is the oldest form of the Goidelic for ...
would be a contender for the longest, through
Conn of the Hundred Battles Conn Cétchathach (; "of the Hundred Battles"), son of Fedlimid RechtmarFedlimid Rechtmar (; "the lawful, legitimate" or "the passionate, furious") or Rechtaid ("the judge, lawgiver"), son of Tuathal Techtmar, was, according to medieval Irish lege ...
(
fl. ''Floruit'' (), abbreviated fl. (or occasionally flor.), Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communic ...
123 AD); in the legendary history of Ireland, he is further descended from
Breogán Image:Torre de Hércules - DivesGallaecia2012-62.jpg, Breogán statue and the Tower of Hercules in A Coruña Breogán (also spelt Breoghan, Bregon or Breachdan) is a character in the ''Lebor Gabála Érenn'', a medieval Christian history of Irel ...
, and ultimately from Adam, through the sons of Noah. Another very old and extensive tree is that of the Lurie lineage—which includes
Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud ( , ; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist Neurology (from el, νεῦρον (neûron), "string, nerve" and the suffix -logia, "study of") is a branch of medicine M ...

Sigmund Freud
and
Martin Buber Martin Buber ( he, מרטין בובר; german: Martin Buber; yi, מארטין בובער; February 8, 1878 – June 13, 1965) was an Austrian Jewish and Israeli philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy ...

Martin Buber
—and traces back to Lurie, a 13th-century rabbi in Brest-Litovsk, and from there to
Rashi Shlomo Yitzchaki ( he, רבי שלמה יצחקי; la, Salomon Isaacides; french: Salomon de Troyes, 22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), today generally known by the acronym Rashi (see below), was a medieval French rabbi A rabbi is a spi ...
and purportedly back to the legendary
King David David (; ) (traditional spelling), , ''Dāwūd''; grc-koi, Δαυΐδ, Dauíd; la, Davidus, David; gez , ዳዊት, ''Dawit''; xcl, Դաւիթ, ''Dawitʿ''; cu, Давíдъ, ''Davidŭ''; possibly meaning "beloved one". is described in th ...
, as documented by Neil Rosenstein in his book ''The Lurie Legacy''. The 1999 edition of the ''
Guinness Book of Records ''Guinness World Records'', known from its inception in 1955 until 1999 as ''The Guinness Book of Records'' and in previous United States editions as ''The Guinness Book of World Records'', is a reference book A reference work is a work, ...
'' recorded the Lurie family in the "longest lineage" category as one of the oldest-known living families in the world today. Family trees and representations of lineages are also important in religious traditions. The biblical genealogies of Jesus also claim descent from the House of David, covering a period of approximately 1000 years. In the Torah and Old Testament, genealogies are provided for many biblical persons, including a record of the descendants of Adam. Also according to the Torah, the
Kohanim Kohen ( he, כֹּהֵן' Cohen, "priest", pl. Cohanim, ' "priests") is the Hebrew word for "priest", used in reference to the Aaronic Priest#Judaism, priesthood, also called Aaronides. Levite, Levitical priests or ''kohanim'' are traditional ...

Kohanim
are descended from
Aaron Aaron ''′aharon'', ar, هارون, Hārūn, Ancient Greek, Greek (Septuagint): wikt:Ἀαρών, Ἀαρών; often called Aaron the priest () and once Aaron the Levite () (Exodus 4:14)., group="note" ( or ; ''’Ahărōn'', Arabic: هار ...

Aaron
. Genetic testing performed at the
Technion
Technion
has shown that most modern Kohanim share common Y-chromosome origins, although there is no complete family tree of the Kohanim. In the Islamic world, claimed descent from the prophet
Muhammad Muhammad ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mohammed, ...

Muhammad
greatly enhanced the status of political and religious leaders; new dynasties often used claims of such descent to help establish their legitimacy.


Elsewhere

Elsewhere, in many human cultures,
clan A clan is a group of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of ...

clan
and
tribal The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living o ...

tribal
associations are based on claims of common ancestry, although detailed documentation of those origins is often very limited.


Other uses

The author
Pete Frame Peter Frame (born 10 November 1942 in Luton, Bedfordshire, England) is an English people, English music journalist and historian of rock music. He has produced outlines of the history of Rock and roll, rock bands for various magazines, such as ''So ...
is notable for having produced "family trees" of
rock band A rock band or pop band is a small musical ensemble A musical ensemble, also known as a music group or musical group, is a group of people who perform instrumental An instrumental is a recording normally without any vocals, although ...
s. In this instance, the entries represent a membership of certain groups, and personnel changes within them, rather than family relationships. Several books have been produced with his family trees, which in turn have led to a
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London. It is the world's oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcasting, broadcaster in the world by ...

BBC
television series about them, including interviews from the bands depicted in the trees. Another common use is in the creation of episcopal trees in
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

Christian
traditions that believe in
apostolic succession Apostolic succession is the method whereby the ministry of the Christian Church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followe ...
. In this case, the connection is not made through blood, but through the order of succession of bishops.


See also

*
GEDCOM GEDCOM ( ) (an acronym An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguis ...
*
Genealogical numbering systems Several genealogical numbering systems have been widely adopted for presenting family tree A family tree, also called a genealogy Genealogy (from el, γενεαλογία ' "study of family trees") is the study of , family history, and th ...
*
Genealogy software Genealogy software is computer software Software is a collection of instructions Instruction or instructions may refer to: Computing * Instruction, one operation of a processor within a computer architecture instruction set * Computer prog ...
*
Genogram
Genogram
*
List of family trees This is an index of family tree A family tree, also called a or a , is a chart representing family relationships in a conventional . More detailed family trees, as used in and , are known as . Representations of family history Genealogica ...
*
Pedigree chart A pedigree chart is a diagram that shows the occurrence and appearance of phenotype In genetics Genetics is a branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, phy ...
*
Tree of life (biology) The tree of life or universal tree of life is a metaphor A metaphor is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a ...
*
WikiTree WikiTree, a free, shared social-networking genealogy website, allows users individually to research and to contribute to their own personal family tree family tree A family tree, also called a genealogy or a pedigree chart, is a chart repr ...

WikiTree


References


External links

* {{Authority control Genealogy Charts