Thursday, March 02, 2006

READER'S FEEDBACK: Numbering Systems

From: Virginia
In reading this last e-mail about a genealogy numbering system, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has a program called PAF 5.2 that numbers each individual person as you enter them into the program. The program can be purchased under $10.00 at the Salt Lake Distribution Center, 1999 West 1700 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84102. 801-240-3800. [It’s a free download from ] -- Hope this helps.


THANK-YOU FOR your response! I am glad you wrote, because I think ol' Myrt here forgot to differentiate between the type of numbers assigned during data entry with genealogy programs such as PAF and the numbering system my previous reader was requesting. Remember that computers think a little differently, and prefer to remember people as numbers. Programs such as PAF assign the next available number automatically as you mentioned. Actually I think they all do, but PAF makes this record number visible if you so set the option. This is known as a person's RIN (record id number) and is assigned in the order you type individuals into the program. However, this number is not a decipherable code indicating relationships.

The numbering system the my previous reader was looking into would be one where a parent might have a number, and the child would have that number as a prefix, and his/her own unique number 1, 2, 3 etc. as an indication of his/her birth order as that parent's child. It would then be possible to trace direct ancestors in a book by removing the last digit(s) to indicate the father to find in that book, then repeating this to find grandfather, etc.

Another numbering system is found in the Ahnentafel chart, where your parents are multiples of your number on the chart. If you are number 1, then your father is number 2, your mother number 3, your paternal grandfather number 4 (a multiple of your father's number). Notice the women are odd numbers? This is an almost universally understood numbering system. When I traveled to Germany on my research trip 11 years ago, I took an ahnentafel chart and found I was able to communicate more readily with that chart than with my extremely limited German. 'Course it didn't help me order Sauerbraten in Düsseldorf.

The Richard Pence articles <> explain the numbering systems required if you wish to submit your genealogy for publication in the NATIONAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY or the NEW ENGLAND HISTORIC GENEALOGICAL REGISTER, two well-regarded family history periodicals with exacting specifications for documentation and submissions. Pence also provides descriptions and examples of other numbering systems that are less familiar to ol' Myrt.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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