Sunday, February 22, 2009

The beauty of Ahnentafel

In his weekly Saturday Night Fun post, Randy at Geneamusings suggested we write about our ancestor who is #21 on our Ahnentafel charts.

Ahnentafel is a numbering system for genealogical ascents. For those who like math, it is a very intuitive numbering system. For person X, the father is 2*X, and the mother is (2*X)+1.

For example:
1. Yourself

2. Your Father
3. Your Mother

4. Your father's Father
5. Your father's mother
6. Your mother's Father
7. Your mother's mother

Those who like math will instantly note that something fun and exciting is happening here with each generation. The paternal ascent follows the powers of 2. So? It suggests that converting the numbers to binary might have some benefits.

1. Yourself
10. Your father
11. Your mother
100. Your father's father
101. Your father's mother
110. Your mother's father
111. Your mother's mother.

Every binary number is going to start with '1' - treat that as yourself (or whoever your source person is). Every 0 indicates a paternal branch and every '1' indicates a maternal branch.

So when Randy asked who my #21 was, my thought process went something like this:

* Broken down in powers of 2, 21 is 16+4+1.
* So the binary ahnentafel would be 10101.
* That's my father's mother's father's mother.
* Annie Perlik Dudelsack/Feinstein (Apr 1868-Aug 10, 1932)

[Note: The dates I had to look up.]

Her Hebrew name was Nechama meaning 'comfort.' She married Selig Dudelsack somewhere in Poland. They immigrated in 1890 and 1891, with Selig coming first, and Annie following several months later with children and mother-in-law. They changed their name to Feinstein in America.

I have been unable to find a photograph of her so far, though I am hopeful some cousin will turn up with one. I have several Feinstein family photographs pre-dating the 1930s, so I'd be surprised if no one ever got her on film.

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