One way to measure how far you’ve got with your family history research is to count how many forebears you can name at each generation.

I know the names of all my great great grandparents and all my husband’s, Greg’s, great great grandparents.

A useful statistic is the number of forebears you can name in the previous ten generations. The possible maximum, including yourself, is 1,023 individuals. [Cousins sometimes marry, so there might be duplicates.]

On my side of the family I can name only 22%, 230 of the possible 1,023. On my husband’s side I know the names of only 13%, 138. If I look at our tree from our children’s perspective the figure is 31%, 319.

When I did these sums two years ago I could name only 25%, 253, of our children’s forebears back 10 generations. Since then I have documented the names of 66 more. There’s a lot left.

Chart generated by MacFamilyTree8. A larger version of this chart is available. Direct ancestors back to the tenth generation whose names I know are coloured; blanks represent those whose names are unknown to me.

Generation Possible number Me Greg Children me % Greg %
###### Children%
1 1 1 1 1 100% 100% 100%
2 parents 2 2 2 2 100% 100% 100%
3 grand parents 4 4 4 4 100% 100% 100%
4 great grand parents 8 8 8 8 100% 100% 100%
5 great great grand parents 16 16 16 16 100% 100% 100%
6 3rd great grand parents 32 24 30 32 75% 94% 100%
7 4th great grand parents 64 35 32 54 55% 50% 84%
8 5th great grand parents 128 45 22 67 35% 17% 52%
9 6th great grand parents 256 49 19 67 19% 7% 26%
10 7th great grand parents 512 46 4 68 9% 1% 13%
Total 1023
Score to generation 10 230 138 319
as a % 22% 13% 31%

Some of my progress has been helped by DNA testing. I think DNA matching with cousins will be an important tool for finding my missing ancestors.

Several bloggers have reported on the completeness of their family tree as measured by this counting method. Among them are: