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Kinship Diagram Template

Understand complex family relationships with a Kinship Diagram Template that keeps your relatives organized.

About the Kinship Diagram Template

A kinship diagram can be a useful tool for understanding how we relate to distant relatives. It allows you to map out relationships without getting hung up on specific names or other pieces of information. Most commonly used by anthropologists and genealogists, a kinship diagram can be a helpful way to learn more about your family.

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What is a kinship diagram?

A kinship diagram is a chart that shows the relationships between people in a family, society, or culture. Kinship diagrams are similar to family trees, but they don't have specific names or show one family. Kinship diagrams are used to understand how families in a culture work.

Anthropologists most commonly use kinship diagrams to chart social relationships. They can use kinship notation to quickly sketch out these relationships as they interview subjects.

A kinship diagram can be useful for anyone interested in family history or genealogy, even if they're not professional anthropologists.

Benefits of a kinship diagram

Kinship diagrams help to see how family, cultural, and societal patterns play out. They often convey not just the family roles themselves but which relatives hold the most influence over the family.

A kinship diagram can help you understand complex family roles and see where third or fourth cousins fall in relation to you without getting hung up on specific names.

Create your own kinship diagram

Get started on a Kinship diagram by simply opening up the template and following the steps below:

Step 1: Add “Ego,” or the starting point of your kinship diagram.

Ego's relatives will be listed in the diagram as you go. You can use the following shapes to denote gender when you add people to the kinship diagram:

  • Triangle: Male
  • Circle: Female
  • Square: Nonspecific gender

The default color for "Ego" on our Kinship Diagram Template is purple. By filling in "Ego", you can determine the starting point of your kinship diagram, even when it is very complex.

Step 2: Build out Ego's immediate relationships.

Ego's immediate relationships connections can include parents, siblings, children, and partners. Use shapes to represent the appropriate gender for each relative, it will make the diagram visually easy to read. Show connections between relatives with solid lines. A horizontal line between two people represents marriage. A vertical line descending from a marriage line represents children. To represent siblings, draw a horizontal line at the bottom of a childline. Then, draw an additional vertical line for each sibling.

Step 3: Continue to build out the diagram using kinship notation.

Keep adding to your family tree until you have a full understanding of your family system.

Step 4: Mark various life events.

If you're mapping out a real family system, you can use kinship notation to mark deaths, divorces, and other life events. Place an X over the shape for any deceased relatives. You can also use a / to note marriages that ended due to divorce or death.

Step 5: Add notes or comments to record additional information.

You can add more information to your kinship diagram to turn it into a family tree diagram, genogram, or pedigree chart. If you're working with other family members or a dedicated genealogist, you can invite them to collaborate on your kinship chart by adding their own findings. As you work together to learn more about your family system, you can easily share and edit the kinship diagram to meet your needs.

Use case for a kinship diagram

A kinship diagram can be a helpful starting point in family history research, before creating a full family tree. By sketching out your family system, you can get an overview of your family and plan the best way to approach your research, instead of getting lost in details.

A kinship diagram can also be used for other purposes, such as finding out how a distant relative is related to you in your family tree, or what the precise term for that relation is. This visual aid can help you find the answer quickly and easily.

FAQ about the Kinship Diagram Template

Who can use a Kinship Diagram Template?

The Kinship Diagram Template can help you understand family and social relationships in any context. Kinship diagram charts are simplified and standardized, which makes them a great way to start your research into genealogy and family history. By using a kinship diagram, you can get an understanding of how people are related to each other before looking at public records and family documents.

What is kinship notation?

Kinship notation is a system of symbols that anthropologists and genealogists use to map out our family and social structures. In kinship notation, shapes represent gender - triangle for male, circle for female, and square for nonspecific - and lines represent immediate relationships. In kinship notation, you can also use X or / to indicate deaths or broken relationships.

What’s the difference between a family tree and a kinship diagram?

A family tree is a specific history of one family that includes information about births, deaths, marriages and other life events when the Kinship diagram is a map that shows the broad family including the social structures that are most common in a culture.

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