Monday, January 6, 2014

How Many Ancestors Do You Know? Count Your Genealogy Numbers

I am finally getting back to genealogy and blogging after a busy month and then a very bad, never-ending (it seems) cold.

A recent post,  "What's Your Genealogy Score?", on Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings blog caught my eye late Saturday/early Sunday. He refers to two other bloggers who have done this in the past also. Anyways, his Saturday, January 4, post is about counting up your identified direct ancestors and determining what percentage of your ancestors you know by generation and overall (total).

Normally I don't care to hear someone say I have this number of people in my tree. When I hear this I usually think, "Yeah, but how much of it is really proved and accurate? And how many are really related to you?" I don't see genealogy as a collecting names game, to me it is more of a mystery/detective game.

But in this case, I think the numbers do mean something a bit more:  How much have I learned and how far do I have to go yet? The reality is that very, very few, if any of us, will have all 100% results all the way back through the generations. Natural disasters, people, and a simple lack of recording information have a way of keeping us from the answers we seek. But still we try.

So in between shoveling the driveway three times on Sunday, I started to put together my genealogy numbers.

Using my genealogy program I made an Ahnentafel Report and then proceeded to add up my ancestors by generation. Along the way I made a form in Microsoft Word that includes a table that does the math for you with a few clicks of the mouse and, of course, directions. I'm making it available for anyone to use for personal use only (no commercial use/copying). Here is the form you can download and then edit. (I think I set up access correctly.).

My numbers are pretty much what I expected. I did perfect (100%) up to my 2nd great grandparents (the fifth generation). And did pretty good on my 3rd great grandparents (the sixth generation) scoring in the 90s. After that it was down hill.

I'm mostly German. Luckily for me most of those ancestors were from Mecklenburg-Schwerin where there are bountiful records available. If that had not been the case, my numbers would have been even lower.

BUT some of those German ancestors of mine were from the Vorpommern area and Brandenburg where records are not so available and that pulled down my numbers. And then there is that one non-German line where I have a third great grandfather of whom nothing is known but his name. On top of this, that branch contains my only colonial roots that is for the most part keeping mum about itself. Though I've made some progress here and there, I still have not gotten another generation further back yet.

So here is a screen capture of my results. Randy and the rest (see the comments made to his post) were comparing their results at the 10th generation level. So overall for my 10th generation, I am at 17.99%.

But if I have correctly determined the parents and thus ancestry of one of my 4th great grandmothers (my some progress), I will have added several more generations of ancestors to my results. Curious, I wrote the potential ancestors on my Ahnentafel printout and added up the changes it would make to my eighth generation and beyond. Below are the alternate results. My 10th generation moves up to 18.96%.

Hopefully, this year I can find a bit more proof to finally feel comfortable adding this line to my tree. So if the genealogy angels/fairies are reading...

Happy New Year!

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  1. Hello, I really liked your idea of this chart! I number my ancestors using the 15 generation chart accordingly thru out my Trees. It makes things so much easier. I would like to use this chart for myself and possibly share this site with the genealogy society if you would allow it. Thank you, DAS

    1. DAS
      I am glad you like the form. Please see my Belated Update 2017 post that explains the proper (my preferred) ways to share this form. Here is the direct link to that post.

      The easiest way (shortest url) would be to share the main url and then tell them to click on the label Genealogy Numbers which will bring up all posts (four so far) regarding the Genealogy Know Your Numbers form.

      Gone Researching