When you receive your family history from Ancestry Angel, you will see that what we will be most concerned with are great-grandparents and cousins. Cousins is also the most common relationship discovered with dna analysis, so it's important to understand how kinship works.

Many people are confused by cousin relationships. What makes someone my "third cousin" and what does "removed" mean? It is not as complicated as it might seem, but different people are able to understand the concept in different ways. Below are three links to cousin explanations, all with charts. Number one is what makes it most clear to me, but you may find one of the others easier to understand.

1. Family History Quickstart - Cousin Relationships 

2. Genproxy - Cousins Chart

3. Wikipedia - Cousin (scroll down for charts)

Explanation of Terms

What is a GEDCOM file?

The term "gedcom" stands for "genealogical data communication" and this type of file was developed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church. It is a data file that organizes genealogical information such as names, birth, death and marriage dates, locations, census records, etc. into a format that is compatible with many programs that deal with family trees and genealogical study. Such a file, that contains your family tree information and structure, can be uploaded to online ancestry services such as or to home computer programs like Family Tree Maker. It can be stored on your computer or saved on a back up drive for the safekeeping of your data.

What is an ahnentafel chart?

The word "ahnentafel" is German for "ancestors table". It is really a numbering system for organizing the generations in your family tree. Basically, the numbering begins with the single person, the "base" of the tree, who is #1. The first person's father is #2 and the mother is #3. Grandfather is 4, grandmother 5 and paternal great-grandfather 6,  paternal great-grandmother 7 and so on. This way, all males are odd numbers and all females (except for #1 if she is a female) are even numbers. Following this system, the father of any person in the tree is double the person's number and their mother is double plus one. 

An ahnentafel chart can then be displayed broken up into the succeeding generations. For example, generations one is the "base" person. Generation 2 is the parents of that person. Generation 3 is the 2 sets of parents of those parents, etc. When printed out that way, it is easy to examine the generations without having to deal with the complexities of a diagram such as a tree or circular family chart. Here is an example of an ahnentafel family chart for Barack Obama. As you can see, each succeeding generation is double the size of the previous one. Understanding the numbering system helps you to navigate the chart and figure out who is who!