Genealogy


Family tree

Several years ago, my father did quite a bit of research into our genealogy. Some folks in my wife's family have done a lot of research, too. I've collected some of the information they have and put it into an interactive family tree. You can start with my tree, or select from a list of people whose tree you can see.

Since the family tree would go on forever, I had to draw the line somewhere. What you see when you ask for a person's tree is that person, their spouse (former spouses are noted), their children, their siblings, their parents, and their grandparents. The person whose tree you've drawn is shown with a red box around their name. You can make anyone else on the screen the new center of the tree by clicking on the tree icon () next to their name. Eventually, you'll be able to get a "details" page for each person, but that's not implemented yet. Birth years aren't shown for people who are still alive, to offer some protection for those who are modest about their age.

If you notice anything in the tree that's incorrect, or if you have data I don't yet have in the tree, please contact me with the corrections or information. Or, if you'd like a portion of my raw data to add to your own tree, I can provide that.

The software

There's software available to put family trees on the web, but I like to make my own so it works just the way I want. The tree is drawn by a well-intentioned, but now almost out-of-control Perl script. The data is stored in GEDCOM format, which seems to be supported by just about all genealogy software. They may not all use that format natively, but they can all import and export it. I chose that format because it's a standard, and because I could use the Gedcom Perl module with it.

The hardest part in making the tree was figuring out programmaticaly how to line everyone up. I didn't think that would be too difficult, but it's one of those things that's easy for a human to do, but when you sit down to write exactly how the computer needs to do it, you realize that it's actually rather complicated. I went through many sheets of graph paper drawing trees and testing formulas. There are still a couple of trees that don't line up exactly how I'd like them to.

This is very much a work in progress. In addition to adding more people to the tree, everyone's names are clickable, which brings up a page with details about that person. The details include basic information like when the person was born, married, or died, and also will have pictures of the person or documents related to the person. I've got a box full of old pictures, newspaper clippings, and documents, and I intend to scan them all and attach them to the relevant people in the tree. But that's going to take a while.