February 5th, 2013

A Jolly Good Genealogical Jaunt – The Lord of the Rings Genealogy Project

If you’re familiar with the family names of Baggins, Brandybuck and Bolger, visit the Lord of the Rings Genealogy Project, where you can have fun, and demonstrate your genealogy skills at the same time!

Yes, you read correctly! There is an ongoing project to chart and discuss the genealogy of Middle Earth, the society created by J.R.R Tolkien in his Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Silmarillion novels. As you might imagine, the project is a huge undertaking, and those involved face similar challenges to anyone compiling an actual genealogy. There are also some aspects that are unique to charting a fictitious family and world history. Perfection and innovation are important to the creator of the project Emil Johansson, who has expanded the project to include several interactive features to satisfy his creative energies.

Emil Johansson is a Chemical Engineering student who lives in Gothenberg, Sweden, and who is obviously a huge J.R.R Tolkien fan. He is also a fan of people having a creative outlet, even if it is conceives as frivolous or fanatical by others. Johansson had read all of Tolkien’s works before they were made into movies, so his conceptualization of Middle Earth is unique to him. The subjects of the genealogy however are as real and accurate as their characters in the books. In addition to the genealogy of Middle Earth, the project also charts statistics such as the world population during the times of specific novels and events, and even the make-up (male – female ratio) of that population.

The Lord of The Rings Genealogy Project is relatively young, only started in January, 2012. Since its release however, many people have contributed to the project in the form of corrections or suggestions. It has truly become a community project, not surprising with the popularity of both genealogy and Tolkien’s works. Some of the individuals who have hopped on board to help with the project are Tolkien aficionados such as Shaun Gunner, who is Deputy Chair of The Return of the Ring, an organization which in its own words is “a celebration of Tolkien in its purest sense”, and is also the administrator of Tolkien Gateway and Trustee and Publicity Officer of The Tolkien Society.

The expertise of such individuals such as Shaun Gunner definitely lends credibility to the site, and a visit to the website shows just how much work has been done already.  There are hundreds of characters already charted, though not all have information about them as yet. The website itself is a bit difficult to understand, there is no real description about how to help or contribute, except in the About section, and that is specifically about how to donate money or purchase the Android app they have developed. It was by pure luck that I found the individual family trees for dwarfs, hobbits, trolls, elves, birds and men under the More tab. If you go to another page, it is also difficult to navigate back to the page you left from.

This is not meant as a criticism, but merely a statement of fact. This project is financed almost single-handedly by Johansson, who is also a dedicated student in a very difficult field. He can’t be expected to maintain a fully functional user-friendly website; it’s a treat that he has started this project at all. Perhaps if you have IT skills you could contribute your talent and help with the website design and function. If you’d like to donate money towards the project or download the Android app you can do so from their website Here.