“Second Cousins,” “Once Removed”, and More Explained in Chart Form

It’s simple: “Figure out the common ancestor between two relatives. Then select the relationship of the first relative to the common ancestor in the top row. Move down to the row that corresponds to the relationship of the second person to the common ancestor. The result is the relationship of the second person to the first.”

OK, so maybe that isn’t so simple after all. I am not sure if a chart is worth a thousand words or not but a cousin relationship chart at http://flowingdata.com/2014/11/05/chart-of-cousins does save a lot of words. It is easier to understand than the above explanation.

See you yourself at http://flowingdata.com/2014/11/05/chart-of-cousins.


Yes, this is a very good chart. There is a lot to learn about ‘kinship.’ I have a book also that I enjoy reading entitled “Kinship It’s All Relative” I have the second edition by Jackie Smith Arnold. If you really want to delve into family relationships, good reference books with charts and examples can be of help; especially in the more complicated cases some families have. A public library with a genealogical collection should offer some of these in their ‘how to’ sections.


The whole “removed” thing is badly defined. The way we do it in English, there is no way to tell which of the removed cousins is the earlier generation and which is the later generation.
There are languages which are much more specific on many relationships, distinguishing between aunts and uncles on the mother’s side and those on the father’s side, for instance.


My mother used to call distant relatives spring mattress relations but I like to work out the correct relationship and I’ve been contacted by many worldwide.

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Some time ago, I read an article about doing this ‘calculation’ in what I considered a simple way. Count the number of grand or great grand parents for each person to the common ancestor. The lower number indicates the cousin number and the difference indicates the removed number. So if you are 6 grand/great parents away from our common ancestor and I am 4 away, then we are fourth cousins and (6-4=2) we are twice removed (4C, 2R). No form required; just make a quick chart showing the relationship and count. My apologies to the person who wrote this up for not citing their name!


Can a second cousin once removed ever “return?”


It’s a useful chart, but I think the “Child” column, which includes “Brother or sister” and “Uncle or aunt” should not revert to nephew and nieces categorizations, but stick with uncle and aunt.


Our local genealogical society has this chart on its website. You can download it free for the next 30 days at https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/105855423/RelationshipChart.pdf.


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