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… at a snail’s pace…

The Legal Genealogist occasionally indulges in the fantasy of advanced genealogist status.

You know the kind of status… the kind that says, loudly, “I can trace all my ancestors back however-many generations!”

Until I take the time to do a reality check.

And … sigh… realize however-many generations ain’t very many.

And … sigh… how very far I have to go.

I mean, seriously, think about it: in just about 250 years, give or take depending on how long-tailed a generation might be, we’re all going to have somewhere around 1,000 people in our direct ancestral lines. Go ahead and count ’em: two parents, plus four grandparents, plus eight great grandparents and so on. Even this FamilySearch chart is daunting — and it’s only to the third great grandparent level.

Family tree fan chart

And by the time we hit seventh great grandparents? There’d be 1,022 slots on that family tree chart.1

Oh, yeah, sure, some of ’em will be duplicates: we all probably have what’s called pedigree collapse — because of cousins marrying cousins somewhere, an individual or a couple ends up occupying more than one place in the family tree.2

But that’s still a lot of slots to fill.

So… how’m I doing?

Sigh… better than I was the last time I did this3… but at this rate, I’m going to need another lifetime or two.

Generation Number ID’d by 2012 ID’d by 2021
Parents 2 2 2
Grandparents 4 4 4
Great grandparents 8 8 8
2nd great grandparents 16 14 15
3rd great grandparents 32 22 25
4th great grandparents 64 25 41
5th great grandparents 128 25 36
6th great grandparents 256 16 24
7th great grandparents 512 10 13
Total 1022 126 (12.3%) 166 (16.2%)

Yeah… in nine years I’ve added another not-quite four percent. So with 83.8% to go, it should only take me, oh, give or take, 188 years or so.

It’s progress, for sure.

But at a snail’s pace.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Progress…,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 6 Nov 2021).


  1. See FamilySearch Research Wiki (, “Genealogy Numbering Systems (National Institute),” rev. 13 May 2019. Actually 1023 slots if we count ourselves…
  2. Wikipedia (, “Pedigree collapse,” rev. 13 Sep 2021.
  3. See Judy G. Russell, “More lost than found,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 18 Aug 2012 ( : accessed 6 Nov 2021).
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