Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Squares and Circles

Thirty years of practicing Family Medicine has taught me a number of things about families. Patient charts were central to this care, and one aspect was the family information we called a "geneogram". This information was collected over a number of office visits, and would take up about 1/2 page. It was made up of "squares" and "circles" connected by vertical and horizontal lines that drew a picture of the family unit. Very early I applied this technique to my own family tree climbing. It is this method that has served me well, and after 50 years of doing genealogy I would recommend it to those who are just starting their own family tree.

It begins by using the first page of the graph paper you have just purchased. You will need a ruler and pencil, and in the middle of the page draw a "square" if male, and a "circle" if female. [four little blocks will work] This symbol becomes you! Now take a vertical line a few blocks below the symbol and draw additional symbols that make up your family. If married, you draw a "square"/"circle" at the exact level of your symbol. You then connect this symbol by using a horizontal line that ties to the vertical lines that you have already drawn. Presto...a family unit: male, female, and you begin your family tree. It is here that you begin with what you know! List the dates of birth, marriage, etc., next to each symbol that you have drawn. The marriage date is placed on the horizontal line that connects the "square" [male], to the "circle" [female].

It is best to use a pencil since changing information is very frequent as the family geneogram grows. You will soon see that the picture you draw shows your family as you begin to add information. For me, this is so much better than filling in charts with names and dates, since this geneogram allows one to see their family tree! The squares and circles do not have to be perfect, but as you get use to drawing them you will get better.

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