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Wednesday, April 22, 2015


That's so cool! I admire you for taking the time. But I suggest you create visuals. Not for us, as issues of privacy and confidentiality. But Venn diagrams? Or color coded? I can't understand family relationships without seeing the patterns and connections in picture form. Those horrible Biblical recitations of just the male line begetting this one then that one make my eyes glaze. Whereas the complicated relationships you describe can become understandable and memorable if drawn on a huge wallboard perhaps in different colors. Or perhaps it would end up looking like one of John Nash's memo boards in "A Beautiful Mind"--too much information???

I've done drawings to clarify, but it's hard for people to keep it all straight. Sometimes at family events when I'm asked how someone is related to me, I'll just say: "several ways that I won't explain because you'll just end up more confused."

I do have the standard tree graphic and a variation used by ancestry.com, but it's a John Nash memo board/Carrie's wall from Homeland.

"...marriages of multiple siblings in one family to multiple siblings in another family and marriages between members of different sides of my family at multiple points..."

I can relate. :-)

It was 25 years ago that my daughter and I began entering family tree information on a PS/2 running DOS and using one of the first versions of Family Tree Maker. That file was saved, backed up, upgraded, shared, and converted into numerous genealogy formats. It still in exists in the latest Family Tree Maker format on my latest computer with the same file name. This reminds me that it's time to do some backups of that file. And no, I don't trust just one medium or storage area.

I don't remember the other individual involved, but we were trying to settle a dispute on just exactly how my father was related to someone so we asked that DOS version and I thought the computer had crashed and was regretting doing that when it finally came back with "These two individuals are not related". He was, of course, related in several ways.

The information we first entered was gathered by my mother's older sister. She started her research with family bibles and letters in the 1930s when she was in her teens and was still gathering information when the file was created. She was a remarkable woman in so many ways and her efforts still inspire.

One of the things that has really surprised me in our genealogy research is that not a single cousin marriage has shown up. Since most of my ancestors are southern hicks and hillbillies, I expected to find at least one 1st and several of the 2nd or 3rd type. Even on my father's side where several families married each other over several generations, it's been avoided. Cousin by marriage, yes. Cousin by blood, no.

And now I remember, it was a 2nd cousin by blood, step-sibling by marriage relationship that caused that early family tree program to hiccup.

" My father's maternal aunt is married to my mother's brother, so my dad's aunt is also his sister-in-law and his nephews are also his first cousins. "

my mind just doesn't work in figuring these sorts of generational family matrices and the above didn't make sense until I drew it out. people who can keep this straight must have either done really well in school or learned something the rest of us (or just me) missed.


Sicily is the Arkansas of Italy* ;-)

Tho I have even more of the first cousin marriages coming out of ancestors from the Province of Foggia.


I think it's hard to grasp without visuals. I can understand it more easily because these are people I knew well, and I knew all the links and relationships to people I knew well. But I do remember having a little trouble grasping it all when I was very young.

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