Monday, November 1, 2021

"Generations" and its use

TL;DR - An article in The New Yorker on recent generations motives a look at the dozen or so generations since John Winthrop's arrival. We have had several posts on generations and find the divisions to be of use. 30 years or 25 years? The graphic shows 30 years. With our database, we will be able to see how much of a range there is similar to the Mayflower data that showed the long span of their fifth generation. 


Meaning, of course, that the use of generation is arbitrary. A classical value was 30 years for a long time. We sort of stumbled on 25 years for various reasons. 

In a recent New Yorker, Louis Menand of Harvard reviewed a couple of books on the subject. His article was titled, It’s Time to Stop Talking About “Generations” , and covers some interesting points. Louis is a Professor of English. He was at Harvard Law before going over to Columbia for his Ph.D. His mother wrote a biography of Samuel Adams, so we will look at him further. 

With respect to the reviews, his graphic is an eye-catcher, showing the last four generations as we see in the press: Boomer, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z. Each of these four is considered to be about 15 years. Louis argues that these are very arbitrary giving not much more information than one finds with astrology. However, generations do make sense. In the graphics, we have a 30-year generational look that shows the Boomers to be in the 12th generation which is about right as looking back at Thomas Gardner and Margaret Fryer that is how many lines get filled in, say for an application to a heritage society. 

This post wanted to bring in motivations for looking more closely at generations. Too, this will be a regular type of study and report. We have had many posts so far on generational themes. Here are a few. 

  • Fifth generation - From July of 2020 when we were diving into the databases of SAR/DAR as well as looking at the particular families who were associated with events. The 5th bearing the brunt? Lots and lots to look at there. 
  • Hundred years - From June of 2020 as we got to looking at a spectral approach. Going backward from now: 100th (Dr. Frank's time), 200th (western expansion), 250th (Revolution), 300th (not long after the Witch fiasco, 400th (Weymouth next year, then Gloucester, then rolling on). 
  • America's Lost Generation - From November of 2020 when we realized by looking at families as we helped people with their applications that lots and lots of problems arise when people move several hundreds of miles away to someplace without infrastructure. Then, genealogists, in their antiquated logic, blame some brick wall when it's their thinking on the issue. Lots to discuss. If Lyman Porter is a sore spot, so be it. The recent database has him, a daughter, and brothers. Database? Yeap, from MF applications that were accepted. 
The frontier century was over 100 years long and potentially spans from three to five generations. We will be looking at that. 

Remarks: Modified: 01/08/2023

11/02/2021 --  Updated the graphic. 

11/03/2021 -- Lucy F. (Wilson) Gardner is of the seventh (or sixth) generation.  

01/08/2023 -- We had another icon (Charles Thomson) come up for our 250th (1774, Continental Congress) and 400th (Cape Ann as one of the first of the capitalization attempts of history). 


  1. As far as I can tell I am a descendent of Thomas Gardner, living in Saint George Maine. How can I document This as factual?

  2. Generally, applications to heritage societies can help. That is, one has to have birth, death, and marriage information for each generation. But, one can work on their own.

    In this post, we noted that we know of two families descended from Thomas of Salem who were in Maine.

    There are other families to look at, too, as well as other Gardner families.

    But, if you know by looking at the work of others and if they don't have sources, then work has to be done to prove the work. if they have sources, then that needs to be verified.

    Hence, work of others are mostly hints until proven.

    We are using WikiTree to slowly build up documented relationships. It's an ongoing process.

    BTW, having done dozens and dozens of applications, the common mode is sloughing along. Unless you luck out and find that someone else has already done the work. In that latter case, giving credit where due is the thing to do.

    Also, on WikiTree, each person has one profile (for good reason). If you find someone in your tree that is on WikiTree, let us know.