Sunday, March 27, 2016

How to Color Code Your Genealogy for Places

Previously, I wrote about how to color code your genealogy family research by family using the fan charts from FamilySearch. Well, a recent rush of tweets about #MyColorfulAncestry inspired me to take it a step further.

What about Places?

Color coding isn't just for family surnames anymore! Nope, it can actually be even more useful than that. It an actually help with focusing your research.  You can color code by places!

Using the amazing Ancestor Graph tool from HistoryLink, I automatically created the basic color wheel just by authorizing HistoryLink to pull in all my Geni data.  Once the chart displayed, I realized that I had a bunch of holes that needed to be researched, and a lot of the data I had entered wasn't consistent.  So, after only a slight side-track, I brought the wheel into Photoshop and changed the colors and added my own text labels.

Places of Birth Color Wheel
Wait, Why Places? 
It took me a lot longer to figure this out than it should have.  Surnames are nice and all, but where exactly your ancestors came from is really really important.  You don't realize just how important they are until you have to figure out which of the 27 Reichenbach's your family came from.  All the records you need are most likely somewhere near those places.

Looking at the color wheel, you can see that my relatives didn't just come from "Posen" as I first heard. Nope, they came from a bunch of specific places in Posen.

Also, you can see that I still have a lot of work to do in Silesia, which was part of Prussia back in the day -- it now lies squarely in Poland, and I just haven't what I need yet. Yet.

Another quick tip. Use the names of the places as they were back when your family was there. For example, Waibstadt is now in Baden-Württemberg, but that's nice. My family lived in Waibstadt before 1871 and at that time it was in the Grand Duchy of Baden.  Focusing my research on just Baden allows me to ignore the huge areas of Württemberg, Hohenzollern, and Swabia that joined Baden to officially become Baden-Württemberg on April 25, 1952.  It's all about narrowing the focus.

How to Create a Places Color Wheel for Your Family Tree

1) Update Geni with all your family tree information -- most of it might even already be there.

2) Run Ancestor Graph and change the display options to "by region, country of birth"

3) Fix errors that you can now see extremely clearly

4) Download the final image once you've gotten it looking better

5) Photoshop the final image to update the colors to match your standards and to add text

6) Tweet it out and post it to Facebook to show the world

7) Research those missing gaps now that you have reminded yourself where you need to look

1 comment :

  1. Dan,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!