What is an ahnentafel?

AH'-nen-ta-fel: [n., german] an ancestor table.

An ahnentafel chart is literally a vertically-listed chart of one's direct ancestors. The beginning individual (which can be anyone within the lineage) is designated with the number one (1). The father of every person is given a number doubled that of the child; thus (1)'s father would be two (2). The mother of every person is given the father's number plus one; thus (1)'s mother would be three (3 = 2+1). This series continues ad infinitum (sometimes quite literally!) until the earliest-known individual in the direct lineage is reached.

Male ancestors will always have an EVEN number, while female ancestors will always have an ODD number. Spouses are always consecutively-numbered; thus the husband of 29 is 28 and the wife of 416 is 417.

The ahnentafel number at the beginning of each generation is equal to the number of persons possible in that generation. So, within the fifth generation, the numbering starts with individual 32, and there are 32 direct ancestors in that generation.

Not all numbers have corresponding individuals; these are generally not inserted into the Ahnentafel chart to conserve space. These missing numbers are ancestors which have not yet been discovered and/or proven.

If you have an ahnentafel and would like to share with others here at the Washington County site, please see our sharing information page for more helpful information about adding your information.

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