Mar 312016

J Paul Hawthorne came up with a way of visualising our family history data. #MyColourfulAncestry which has taken Facebook by storm

Paul has provided a downloadable 5 generation chart Thanks Paul!

Sometimes looking at our data in different ways can show perhaps where we are missing data or just show things in a different way. 

I took it up a bit to a seven generation chart showing the birthplaces of my ancestors.  By just looking at the birthplace it is cleaner without all the other data showing.

My father was born in Kent England and as can be seen by colouring the places of birth and seeing all that yellow, I have a lot of Kent ancestry!

There are a lot of things you can do. I have always been a strong advocate of researching your health history and so of course I had done a cause of death chart previously but have done it again. This shows the cause of death and the age.Cancer shown in red occurs more often than I would like. Tuberculosis also occurs as does heart disease although pretty good ages for most of my ancestors.

Emily Schroeder of GrowingLittleLeaves blog showed how she used the chart to interest her daughter in her family history by using the colours on the chart and colouring a map to match those same colours. A fantastic idea to get children interested!

Others have shown the religious affiliations of their ancestors. Some have done occupation charts. I am not sure about that as so many people have varied occupations during their lifetimes. My great grandfather was a tailor most of his life but became ill and in  the last period of time became an insurance salesman which is what was shown as the occupation on his death certificate. 

And didn’t that create an argument with my grandmother when I said he was an insurance salesman! Having said that I changed from using Personal Ancestral File to Family Tree Maker many, many years ago as my partner had five generations of blacksmiths on his line and I really wanted to be able to show it on a chart!

There are many things you can do in Excel (or any spreadsheet) to help in your family history. Facebook has a group Excel-ling Genealogists which has over 1000 members.

YouTube is another great resource and if you do a search for Excel and Genealogy you will find over 1400 videos. A YouTube channel I would recommend is Tessa Keough who has done a whole series of videos on Excel and also on Legacy. Tessa, like me, is also a One Name study researcher and uses Excel extensively for her study. Tessa’s YouTube channel can be found here.

So why not give it a go and visualise your data in a different way?