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  • Writer's pictureJessica Feinstein

Organizing your ancestors

One of the ways to organize your ancestors is to give them numbers, using the Ahnentafel system. My grandson Ari would be No. 1, his father would be No. 2, his mother No. 3, and so on.


I have created an Ahnentafel chart using Excel, colour-coded to show each of Ari’s grandparents’ ancestral lines, and I have completed it as far as his 5x great-grandparents, which gives us 255 of his ancestors. (Adding another column would take it to 501 ancestors, and another after that would be 1103.)


Of course some of the names are unknown (or unknowable), and it is interesting to look at why that is the case:


a) Most are because of illegitimacy, where the father and all of his ancestors are probably never going to be discovered.

b) Some are unknown because I have not yet found a record of someone’s birth or baptism to prove who their parents were, and several possibilities exist.

c) Several are unknown at the moment because I have not yet found a record that provides a mother’s name or maiden name, or the person has a first name but no surname because I have not found a record of it yet.

d) And some are unknown because I have not researched them yet.


Organizing your ancestors like this gives you another way to think about your tree and see where you might want to focus your efforts. This is the top part of the completed chart:



Happy to share my template if you would like to try it!

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