#1: Genealogy for Who?

1.1  This blog used to be called Genealogy for Baby Boomers…it was a sub-blog, a once-per-week feature, of a daily blog called Deep Fried Hoodsie Cups, which began as a celebration of growing up in New England in the 1950s and 60s, but evolved into a general Baby Boomer nostalgia blog. G4BB was renamed Related How Again? and split off as its own blog starting with post #118. The focus had shifted from BB’s to…everybody!

1.2  BTW…why are paragraphs numbered, like some sort of text book? Because my sister said: That’s cool!…that’s why… 😉 😉

1.3  But as a result of the redo, the first several posts needed to be rewritten…sort of like when the second edition of a book comes out…Completely Revised and Updated!  And I have to say, my early posts were awfully wordy…geez louise. But it’s like in the good old days of hard copy…nothing like taking a red pencil and going zaaaaaap…you’re gone!

1.4  The inspiration for this blog was something that a lot of us are doing these days…reconnecting with relatives via the Internet and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Sharing old photos…who’s that? …how are we related?  My great grandfather’s 2nd cousin? That makes him what to me? Many of us used to know but have forgotten…many of us never knew…and that’s why we’re here!

1.5  Related How Again? doesn’t deal so much with how to research your family tree, altho we will touch on that from time to time.There are many resources, both on and off the net, to help you with that. We examine how the information you’ve gathered fits together…the “inner workings” of our kinship system…how who is related to who. You might think, Well, gee, I know all that stuff.  Maybe you do. Your grandparents, your nieces and nephews, your uncles and aunts, your 1st cousins, sure. You might even know who your 2nd cousins are…and beyond…but then again, maybe you don’t. A lot of people don’t these days…families over the past 2 generations have spread out geographically, and lost track of one another. Thank you, horseless carriage!

1.6  Take for example your mother’s grandmother’s niece. How is she related to you, to your mother, to your daughter, to your own niece? I’m guessing the answers didn’t roll off your tongue. How is your 2nd cousin related to your 3rd cousin? How are your father’s uncles related to your nephews? Do you know what double cousins and half-cousins are? How about Enhanced Half-Siblings? Um, does that mean they’ve had an operation? Good try, but no. And what in the heck is removed supposed to mean? I mean, we do, but they keep coming back!

1.7  The twists and turns are seemingly endless. Consider this scenario: You have a half-brother Al, who is not related to your wife…and your wife has a half-brother Zeke who is not related to you. And yet, Al and Zeke are half-brothers to each other! Some of you may have immediately thought: sure, that makes sense…but I’m guessing not a lot of you.

chart 1

1.8  So let’s get started with Chart 1. It is of my own making, as will be 99% of the diagrams we’ll use. Chart 1 at first blush looks mighty complicated…when I’ve shown it to people, the response is often a satisfying Wha–? But that’s because a lot of basic information is packed in there, in a way I’ve not seen elsewhere, altho I’m sure someone has done it…nothing new under the sun, right?

1.9  Chart 1 is actually 3 charts in one…it focuses on 3 individuals…YOU, the green square…YOUR FATHER, the yellow square…and YOUR GRANDFATHER, the pink square. And yes, for simplicity’s sake, I am using the male terms…obviously what’s true for father/son/brother/uncle/nephew is true for mother/daughter/sister/aunt/niece.The gray arrows indicate parentage and offspring. The individuals they point to are all your relatives…and each box in divided into 3 parts…the Green part tells how that person is related to YOU…the Yellow, how they are related to YOUR FATHER…and the Pink, how they are related to YOUR GRANDFATHER.

1.10  For example, start with the green square labeled YOU. The individual represented by the square directly to the right of YOU is divided into 3 colored sections. This person is your brother (the green part), your father’s son (yellow), and your grandfather’s grandson (pink.) Now look at the individual to the right of YOUR FATHER. The three colored sections tell you this is your uncle (green), your father’s brother (yellow), and your grandfather’s son (pink.) These 2 examples deal with relationships you are completely familiar with. But we also move both vertically and horizontally to parts of the family tree you might not be as familiar with.

1.11  “C” means cousin, and “R” means removed…thus “2C 1R” is a 2nd cousin once removed….these are standard abreviations in the world of genealogy.

1.12  The most important thing you should notice in Chart 1 is this: Who are your “cousins”? Look at the horizontal line of relatives directly to the right of YOU…in the green sections of the boxes, you will see: 1st cousin, 2nd cousin, 3rd cousin, 4th cousin…and had I extended the chart, 5th, 6th, 7th, etc. These “cousins”…which collectively I call “numbered cousins,” to distingished them from “removed cousins”…make up YOUR GENERATION…along with your siblings, of course.

chart 1 a

1.13  I know…that may not be the way you “do it” in your family…to you, a 2nd cousin is the child of your 1st cousin, not as here, the child of your father’s 1st cousin. But you are wrong. Trust me, according to all genealogical authorities…as well as civil law, church law, anthropology, what have you…this is how cousinship is reckoned. You’re perfectly free to persist in this mistake. If somebody tells you Cindy is your 2nd cousin, you can put her under one of your 1st cousins if you like…I guarentee your family tree will be a mishmash of incorrect and inconsistent connections.

1.14  True, most dictionaries say both definitions of 2nd cousin are in common use…but to clearly and unambigously communicate with other people, this is the standard way genealogy defines cousins, and you might as well get used to thinking that way. In everyday talk, “cousin” can refer to any relative who is NOT covered by some degree of father/son or uncle/nephew…”degree” here indicated  by grand and great. That’s like saying both apples and oranges are fruits, which is fine. But if you then call an apple an “orange”…well, good luck at the farmers’ market…and see you next week!


Copyright © 2011 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved



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