Twenty-four degrees of separation

Global Family Reunion - chart for V-BThousands are expected to gather on Saturday, June 6, at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows, Queens, for the very first Global Family Reunion – founded by bestselling author A.J. Jacobs – who describes himself as “father of three, the husband of one, and the cousin to millions.” Expected to be the biggest, most extraordinary, and most inclusive family reunion in history, the world of genealogy is indeed watching this one and smiling.

I’ll be attending the well-publicized event on Saturday in representation of NEHGS – the country’s oldest and largest genealogical society – because this family reunion isn’t one to be missed. Naturally, I want my t-shirt and mug, and I can’t wait to nibble on the delicacies my relatives are bringing for the feast. But most importantly, I want to meet some of the “cousins” I’ve found on a family tree that I never imagined existed until the Global Family Reunion craze spread across multiple media platforms on the Internet, at RootsTech 2015, and at most of the larger genealogical conferences held during the past year.

Scholars of genealogy may take issue with what’s happening here, but let’s be clear about something. Family has many meanings, many definitions, and many roles to play in our history, our society, and even in our understanding of our own genealogy. So I’m embracing the fact discovered yesterday that I’m a “cousin” of the organizer of this glorious reunion of relatives about to gather on the site of the legendary 1964 New York World’s Fair. I’ve done the math and I am playing the game, although perhaps not in Register style or according to the certified elements of genealogical analysis upon which our resident scholar Robert Charles Anderson would insist. But my research using WikiTree’s “Relationship Finder” as a genealogical cousin calculator concludes that A.J. Jacobs and I have only 24 degrees of separation.

You’ll see according to the chart above that A.J.’s aunt’s husband’s other wife’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Stephen Emery is the half-brother to my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Israel Webster.

So I’m off to the Reunion. Since my “cousin” A.J. is, in fact, the cousin to millions, I sure have a lot of catching up to do – and will report back about my experience on Monday.

Global Family Reunion - DALambert

David Allen Lambert

About David Allen Lambert

David Lambert has been on the staff of NEHGS since 1993 and is the organization’s Chief Genealogist. David is an internationally recognized speaker on the topics of genealogy and history. His genealogical expertise includes New England and Atlantic Canadian records of the 17th through 21st century; military records; DNA research; and Native American and African American genealogical research in New England. Lambert has published many articles in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, the New Hampshire Genealogical Record, Rhode Island Roots, The Mayflower Descendant, and American Ancestors magazine. He has also published A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries (NEHGS, 2009). David is an elected Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, Mass., and a life member of the New Hampshire Society of the Cincinnati. He is also the tribal genealogist for the Massachuset-Punkapoag Indians of Massachusetts.View all posts by David Allen Lambert