Why can FamilySearch.org Family Tree trace relationships only up to 15 generations?

If I find an ancestor who is 15 generations removed, the site will show me exactly how I am related, and will trace the lineage. But if s/he is more than 15 generations removed, it will not trace the lineage. Working back from myself, sometimes through the paternal line and sometime through the maternal line, I found an ancestor 19 generations removed, but now I can't find him again.

Any ideas for solving?

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to G&FH.SE! I am closing your question because it is unclear what you're asking. If your question is about FamilySearch's FamilyTree, please use the edit link under your question and add more information.
    – Jan Murphy
    Jun 24, 2018 at 18:49
  • I've edited your question title because only FamilySearch can answer the question about whether their relationship calculator is limited to 15 generations. What you really want is a work-around, so I've changed the title to reflect that better.
    – Jan Murphy
    Jun 26, 2018 at 2:48
  • I have ancestors in the nobility and all the way back, way more than 15 generations and its frustrating when you can't simply see the line beyond 13 people. Also, it says 15 generations but it actually shows only 13...
    – geo
    Dec 13, 2023 at 21:27

2 Answers 2


I'm assuming for this answer that the person you're looking for is indeed one of your ancestors and not someone on a collateral line.

One difficulty with doing this kind of search is simply keeping track of where you have already looked. Just to clarify things, you could try filling out a series of pedigree charts or ahnentafel (ancestor tables) of your own so you can see your data in a different way.

The website Genealogy Junkie has templates for a compressed 7-Generation Pedigree Chart where generations 1-3 run sideways to save space; it includes Ahnentaefel numbers. Filling out one of those charts for yourself and your close-by ancestors will give you an example of how the numbers work.

The advantage of using the ahnentaefel in a spreadsheet instead is that you can put the data in columns and the spreadsheet can be extended indefinitely.

However you want to keep track of your data, make a list of all the people that are at the farthest reach of the FamilySearch FamilyTree relationship calculator (the 15-generations out which you mentioned in your question).

Then, go through those people one by one in family tree, and use the the Fan Chart to display all the known ancestors for each person. You can do this by selecting Fan Chart from the drop-down menu at the upper left of the screen.

fan chart for Samuel Adams Burns

This will allow you to see several generations of that person's ancestors at once, making it easier for you to spot the person you're looking for than it would be if you traced each line separately.

Once you find people of interest, use the Watch feature on their profile (see the star) to keep track of them, and add them to your notes and ahnentafel so you can find them again.

profile box for Joshua Brainard


I actually had this same question and spoke with someone at FamilySearch about it. The response was that the system is designed to only show 13 generations when you click on see-relationship within a profile. Now when you click on View Tree, that information will show all lines going further back than 13 Generations. I was also told that there are a lot of people who can only trace 8 generations back. Generally, those that can trace beyond 13 and 16 generations more than likely have ancestors of nobility.

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