The academic paper titled GeneaQuilts: A System for Exploring Large Genealogies [aviz.fr] presents a novel data visualization technique for representing large genealogies of up to several thousand individuals. The scalable visualization technique takes the form of a diagonally-filled matrix, where rows are individuals and columns are nuclear families.
Genealogies are represented in the form of a layered, diagonally-filled matrix, which eliminates crossings and accommodates very large datasets in the order of thousands of individuals. By depicting individuals as rows and families as columns, with parents always at a higher layer (generation) than their children, the visualization exhibits marriage and parent/children relationships, as well as other interesting relationships such as cross-generational and consanguine marriages.
The system includes an overview, a timeline, search and filtering components, and a new interaction technique called Bring & Slide that allows fluid navigation in very large genealogies. In front of each name is an icon that indicates the person's gender. Black dots indicate relationships within families. Dots above a family icon point to the parents and dots below point to the children. Round dots point to females while square dots refer to males.
The technique has been evaluated with 3 anthropologists and 4 historians. The results of this user testing and more detailed information can be found in the original paper (PDF), which was presented at the Infovis 2010 conference.