How Many Generations can a DNA Test Trace My Ancestry?

You may hear about DNA in the news or in conversations. But what is DNA, really?

How Far Can a DNA Test Trace my Ancestry?
How many generations can you trace YOUR family back?

For most of us, that answer is, not very far…

Most of us knew our grandparents, and may even have records of our great-grandparents. Farther than that, the records get increasingly murky. You may have some paper records, but these seldom go back more than 5 generations. Records frequently destroyed or lost, and each migration opens up a new gap in the paper trail…

With autosomal DNA testing, you can trace your family much further back—which allows you to make discoveries that you never expected.

Standard Autosomal DNA Testing (5-7 Generations)

Most ancestry companies offer a solid view of your most recent 5-7 generations, with varying levels of detail. This is the report you’re used to seeing, with the pie chart and map of your recent ancestry. All of the major ancestry companies offer this, through a method known as “autosomal DNA testing”—which means that it focuses on the genetic markers that appear on your 23 pairs of chromosomes.

Tree_MT-1-Discover your recent ancestry with an autosomal DNA test.


Advanced Autosomal DNA Testing (50+ Generations)

Recently, more advanced DNA companies have been able to trace ancestry even farther with the use of cutting-edge technology like AI and DNA algorithms. Using these advanced techniques, the best companies can get you even more of your family history. CRI Genetics, for example, has a DNA timeline that reaches back 50+ generations, or up to 1,000 years, showing you each ancestry you have along the way. (For reference, 23andMe’s DNA timeline only goes back 8 generations at best).

TimelapseUnlock your ancient ancestry with an advanced DNA test.


Mt-DNA Haplogroup Testing (Up to 100,000 Years)

Finally, mitochondrial DNA (Mt-DNA) enables ancestry companies to trace your family history even farther with the use of haplogroup analysis. You see, mitochondrial DNA is passed down directly from mothers to their children, without any interaction from the father’s DNA. This means that it mutates 10X slower—meaning it can be traced much farther back than the traditional DNA we inherit from both our parents. You can use mt-DNA testing to trace your family history up to 100,000 years, and see each major step your ancient ancestors took along the way.

mtdna_sampleA sneak peek of what your Mt-DNA test could look like.


CRI offers all of these reports in our advanced 100X Ancestry Test, which you can view here.

If you’re still looking to trace your ancestry by hand, there are numerous free resources with which you can do so. Our research team just put together a list of the Top 50 Best Free Genealogy Sources. These include all major American ancestries, such as Irish & English, German, American Indian, Jewish, African-American, Asian-American, and many more. Enter your name and email to receive our Free Guide.