Ahnentafel Explained

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A funny word that basically means your ancestors displayed in text linked by assigned numbers. A quick explanation is that the numbers are patterned so the father is always double the child’s number and the mother is always double +1. Thus your paternal line would be 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, etc.

Anyone familiar with computers will recognize this as something totally different. Yes, it is a binary series. And if you convert your ahnentafel numbers to binary they make much more sense. You always start as 1. Then you add a 1 for a mother or a 0 for a father and progress from there.

So for example someone with an ahnentafel number of 24 converts in binary to 11000. This means 1(you) 1 (mother) 0 (father) 0 (father) 0 (father). So 24 is your mother’s father’s father’s father.

If you hover on your wikitree number on your homepage you will see “Family Tree & Tools” in the drop-down. Below your ancestor tree is “Genealogy Research” with the first item as “Ancestor list for X”. This is your 7 generation ahnentafel.

But I want 10 generations you say. Here is where converting to binary is really handy. I have one ancestor who is numbered 90. This is where you go and get the ahnentafel for him. (even number is male, odd is female) Now I found Samuel Adams in HIS ahnentafel as 58.

Now 90 is 1011010 in binary. And 58 is 111010. Here is the neat part. In the first one, the 1 is you. In the second one the first 1 is him. But your number for him is 1011010. So if you want to get the ahnentafel number for HIS ancestor (Samuel Adams) but as your extended tree number, remove the first 1 for him and put your number in there for him.

1011010 & 111010 or 1011010 & (1)11010 to (1011010)11010 or 101101011010 which converts to 2906. So his ahnentafel number is 2906 in MY ancestry tree and the binary number lets me know he is my father’s mother’s mother’s father’s mother’s father’s mother’s mother’s father’s mother’s father.

So Samuel Adams is my 9th great grandfather. And yet oddly enough I can’t stand the taste of beer. LOL I hope this helps explain the subject for you.

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I really thought this would have got more attention.
I, for one, appreciate it! I love me some ahnentafel, and this is a fantastic explanation.
Just ran into a Tibbetts duplicate you are involved with and checked your profile. I noticed you were into the whole Ahnentafel thing and was going to link you to this. I guess you already saw it. LOL
Heh, thanks!  My current ahnentafel still lives in a spreadsheet rather than on Wikitree, and even in that format it's unwieldy!
Great explanation! Now, how do you say it? ;)

Neat, the binary aspect never occurred to me.
answered by Chris Hampson G2G6 Mach 8 (88.9k points)
+1 vote
This is the coolist thing I've read all week! Saw the title and wondered what there was to explain about ahnentafels.  What a surprise! A truly good learning experience.  As you said, I too am surprised that this didn't get more attention, though I expect that when most people saw the words "binary numbers" they just automatically went Next Topic!  Thank you for a very enjoyable read.  Your explanation of the binary system and how to  read it was quite refreshing.  Learned something new today.
answered by Art Black G2G6 Mach 1 (17k points)

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