Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Every Family Historian will at some point interact with someone who declares
"Oh, I finished researching my family history."
We'll stare at them, confused. Finished?

It's very confusing from a mathematical perspective. Two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents. It keeps building. 4096 10th great grandparents. I know a handful of my 10th great grandparents, but not even double digits. Sure, there is undoubtedly some pedigree collapse, but I still have to identify the ancestors each time, so there are 4096 slots to be filled in that generation regardless of how many names get repeated.

And even if at some point I have all 4096 identified, there are 8192 11th great grandparents. And then 16,384 12th great grandparents. How can anyone finish?

And here I am only addressing one's ancestors. Family trees don't only go backwards in time. There's also the research of siblings, and descendants.

So, no, don't tell me you finished. Maybe you stopped. Maybe you gave up. Maybe you are satisfied with what you have found. (I guess that is possible) But, no, you didn't finish. You left the rest of the research for someone else to accomplish. (Please tell me you took good notes, and cited all your sources. Sigh.)

1 comment:

Janice Harshbarger said...

I, like you, am amazed when someone gives me a similar comment. I guess if they haven't truly been bitten by the bug, they might have only a mild case of "the genealogy stuff". But I've been badly infected, and I don't think there's a cure. There are always more facts and stories to be found, and that next ancestor I find might have the most fascinating story of all!