Thursday, February 10, 2011

Six degrees of separation for Dracula and Queen Victoria

What began as a look at Bram Stoker's family in the English census returns has grown into a look at his servants, and their families. That's the beauty and the fun of looking at the census. You just never know where it will lead.

A few years back, I did a little research about a prominent family in Calgary, where I live, in the days before the First World War. Well, by the time I was done researching the history of a church they had helped to build, I was convinced that everyone in Calgary then was either related to each other, or about to be.

Of course, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but on the other hand, there's a lot of truth to it. The idea of "six degrees of separation" has been around for a while now. The theory is that you can connect anyone to anyone else via a chain of six intermediates or fewer.

For example, I have a friend (degree no. 1) whose husband (degree no. 2) is an executive producer on a great TV show, 30 Rock. I assume he's in one way or another acquainted with the stars of the show, so that makes me three degrees away from Tina Fey. Who knew?

If you use LinkedIn, you'll already know how easy it is to connect two people at the 3rd degree level, particularly if one of your 1st degree people has thousands of connections.

Rather than "six degrees of separation", I prefer "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon", a Web game where people trace anyone who's had anything to do with any movie at all, back to actor Kevin Bacon. I wonder if Kevin Bacon ever feels a bit odd about that. Must be strange to be the centre of the universe.

Anyway, after a little nosing around in the census returns, I've decided to make my own Six Degrees. In the next heartbeat, I decided to do two, because I came across a person who fits both.

Get ready to find out:

Six Degrees of Dracula
Six Degrees of Queen Victoria.

I'll try to include rankings for everyone I write about in this series if I can. I don't know how many 1-1s (only 1 degree from each) there will be, but we shall see.

This article is one in an ongoing series, starting with Bram Stoker, author of Dracula in public records: BMD (Birth, Marriage, Death).

Next: Thomas MARCH of 1 Charles Street, One degree from Queen Victoria

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