First, I found the question Tracing relationships on FamilySearch's Family Tree through more than 15 generations? which is very similar, but I was not satisfied with the answer (and maybe a new solution has arisen in the last 5 years).

On FamilySearch, if I find a person from a long time ago and want to find my relationship to them (even if I know it is a direct relationship), and if I click on the "VIEW RELATIONSHIP" button, I get this message: "It appears your tree does not have enough generations added to find a shared relative, or the shared relative is beyond 15 generations."

Relatedly, if I go to the Relative Finder [https://www.relativefinder.org/#/main] third party app, I am limited to 16 generations.

Is there a workaround to enable me to see how I am related to someone who is more than 15/16 generations back?

I seek any solution, including something in R or Python.

  • How do you know that you are a direct descendant of the far-away person? Note that the error message gives you two different scenarios: 1) not enough information to give you a result or 2) beyond 15 generations. Presumably in this case you know the years the far-away person allegedly lived, so you know it might be more than 16 generations. However, I wonder if there might be cases where BOTH of these options are true (beyond 15 generations AND there's not enough info for the algorithm). In which case, how would R or Python or anything else help you?
    – Jan Murphy
    Jul 30 at 19:47
  • @JanMurphy In some cases, I would be able to know I am descended from them just by clicking through my tree manually. In other cases, I have done that (clicked through the tree manually) and found an ancestor, but I didn't write down the relationship, so I am not sure how to get back to them. So I wanted to just use the View Relationship feature.
    – bill999
    Jul 31 at 3:55
  • 1
    I've added a note at the bottom of my answer, reminding people to follow profiles of interest.
    – Jan Murphy
    Aug 1 at 21:32
  • @JanMurphy, great advice about bookmarking. Thanks.
    – bill999
    Aug 2 at 1:30

1 Answer 1


If the Relative Finder app is limited to 16 generations, it is likely to be a limitation in FamilySearch Family Tree's API. The obvious clumsy workaround is to go back as far as FamilySearch will let you go, find the person who is a descendant of your person of interest, and run the Relative Finder or calculate the relationship of those two people.

While the FamilySearch API is closed to the public (per App Approval Considerations), I suggest looking over the developer resources at FamilySearch (e.g. the API resources). I see there that My Relationships, the "Set of how the current user is related to the passed in person." is marked as Deprecated, and the Relationship Finder "Find the set of relationships that show how {pid} is related to {opid}." is marked as a Prototype. Perhaps reading the docs will give you some clues as to how to find a better workaround.

Another possibility might be to try a software program which interfaces with FamilySearch, such as the free RootsMagic Essentials, fetch the data from FamilySearch FamilyTree, and use the Relationship Calculator or other tools in that program, unless they too are limited to 16 generations.

If you are interested in discovering how many different ways you might be related to this distant relative, consider putting your data into a graph database and using the path tools to show the connections.

Whenever you find a person of interest on FamilySearch Family Tree, I think it's a good idea to bookmark that person (as I write this answer, it is called 'Following'). You can choose to have notifications about when other users make changes to the profile. Another option is to save the profile's ID to your genealogy software or in a research log. Profiles do get deleted, but if you put the deleted ID into the search, FamilySearch's Family Tree is supposed to redirect you to the new profile.

I also like to print out a Family Group Sheet with sources whenever I view a profile, so I have a record of what I saw on a particular date when I visited.


  • Thank you very much. These are great thoughts. I really like the first one, but unfortunately I don't know which relative (if any) is related to the far-distant person.
    – bill999
    Jul 30 at 19:00
  • @bill999 How do you know that you are a direct descendant of the far-away person? How many more generations do you need to reach beyond 16?
    – Jan Murphy
    Jul 30 at 19:06

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