Counting Generations

07/22/20 - posted by John Martini

There's a question that keeps coming up among locals whenever we discuss our City roots: "What generation San Franciscan are you?"

Some of my friends maintain that when people move to the city (either as foreign immigrants or re-located U.S. citizens) their kids born here are "first generation" San Franciscans. Their kids, in turn, would be second generation and so on. By this logic, if you're grandparents immigrated here, you'd be second generation San Franciscan.

But this begs the question, what were the original immigrant arrivals? The "zero generation"?

Other folks maintain that the first folks to settle in the City are the first generation, their kids second, and so on. Using this logic, if you're grandparents immigrated here, you're a third generation San Franciscan.

To settle the matter, I went on-line and consulted several genealogy sites. All the reputable sites agree with the second theory: immigrants are First Generation.

In more personal terms, my maternal great-great grandfather arrived in SF on a ship in 1849, so I'm 5th generation -- on my mom's side. By contrast, my paternal great-grandfather arrived in SF in the early 1880s so I'm 4th generation on my dad's side.

Confused? Check out Family Search:

The Western Neighborhoods Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.