(+) What is a Genogram and Why Should I Create One?

The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

Almost all genealogists are familiar with pedigree charts. These are basic charts for recording parents, grandparents, and earlier generations for an individual. Pedigree charts are used to show bloodlines and are limited to displaying only ancestors. Pedigree charts do not display siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles or other extended relatives. Here is an example of a pedigree chart:

Click on the above image to view a larger example.

Pedigree charts have long been a standard tool used by genealogists and others. They are easy to understand and clearly display a lot of information in a small amount of space. However, pedigree charts are limited in what they can display, normally showing only the name of each individual and the places and dates of birth, marriage, and death. They do not show relationships of siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, or other extended relatives. They also do not display the dynamics of a family over multiple generations.

Medical professionals also have a need to show family relationships in order to understand inherited medical conditions. The medical community often needs to collect and display information about patterns of mental and physical illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, cancer, substance abuse, and other diseases that seem to run in families. Pedigree charts are ineffective for such uses.

Luckily, other charts can display such information in a manner that displays hereditary patterns and psychological factors within a family, even including non-blood relatives, such as step-brothers and sisters, adoptions, and more. A genogram is one of the more popular means of charting such relationships.

A genogram is a pictorial display of a person’s family relationships and medical history. Genograms were first developed and popularized in clinical settings by Monica McGoldrick and Randy Gerson in 1985 through the publication of a book titled Genograms: Assessment and Intervention. Genograms are now helping various groups of people in a variety of fields such as medicine, psychiatry, psychology, social work, genetic research, education, and many more. Some practitioners in personal and family therapy use genograms for personal records and/or to explain family dynamics to the client.

According to Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genogram:

In genealogy, genograms are used to record family history through the lives of each of its members. Genograms allow the genealogist to graphically portray complex family trees that show marriages and divorces, reconstituted families, adoptions, strained relationships, family cohesion, etc. Genealogists can use genograms to discover and analyze interesting facts about their family history, such as a naming pattern, sibling rivalry, or significant events like immigration.

 

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