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  #1  
Old 06-24-2007, 07:31 PM
commasense commasense is offline
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Record for most generations living in a family

I was just at the second birthday party for my god-daughter's son. This boy and his cousins have two living great-grandparents.

It got me to thinking about the greatest possible "generation gap" (i.e. the largest number of generations separating two related living individuals) that might exist within a family, and what the actual record might be.

If we assume that a 13-year-old can start a new generation (we're not discussing the propriety or wisdom of this, you understand, just the physical possibilities) and the limit of human life as about 120 or so, then it would seem theoretically possible for a baby to have a living great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent, a gap of nine generations:

0 child
13 parent
26 grandparent
39 great grandparent
52 great great grandparent
65 great great great grandparent
78 great great great great grandparent
91 great great great great great grandparent
104 great great great great great great grandparent
117 great great great great great great great grandparent

Of course, this requires two rather contradictory circumstances: many generations having children extremely early in life, and an elder living to extreme old age. Before the last few centuries, the former was probably quite common, but the latter was quite rare. Today, the opposite is the case.

I did some googling, but couldn't think of any really good key words to use to track down what I'm looking for, and didn't find any answers to my question. But I figured my fellow dopers would have some ideas.

So does anyone know what the record is for largest documented number of generations between two living individuals?

Last edited by commasense; 06-24-2007 at 07:32 PM.. Reason: Clarified title
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  #2  
Old 06-24-2007, 07:39 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is offline
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Well, every so often you see those "Five generations" pictures in the paper, so the answer is at least five. I'd be willing to wager that six has happened.
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Old 06-24-2007, 07:54 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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My hometown has about 1300 people and I knew the following woman and even many members of her family before she died. This isn't a record but it is uncommon and a record for the most generations that I have known.

"The celebration of the life of Mrs. Barbara E. Liles Galloway was held Friday, February 25, 2005 at 2:00 p.m. at Rose Neath Chapel in Logansport. She was a 100.
She is survived by 30 grandchildren, 72 great grandchildren, 54 great great grandchildren and 20 great great-great grandchildren. "

That makes 176 people alive concurrently through the generations.

Bunch of whores.

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...=grandchildren

Last edited by Shagnasty; 06-24-2007 at 07:55 PM..
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  #4  
Old 06-24-2007, 08:07 PM
commasense commasense is offline
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I appreciate your answer Shagnasty, but I want to be clear that the number I'm looking for is the count of generations (i.e., how many "greats"), not the number of people.

But from the personal experience of one poster we're already up to five generations in just two posts. Let's keep going.
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Old 06-24-2007, 08:09 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is online now
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I have run across 6 living generations in my genealogical research in the past. Sorry, no cite at hand.

Last edited by Qadgop the Mercotan; 06-24-2007 at 08:09 PM..
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Old 06-24-2007, 08:16 PM
Chez Guevara Chez Guevara is offline
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Here is a six.
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  #7  
Old 06-24-2007, 08:40 PM
Chez Guevara Chez Guevara is offline
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Oh, and the matriarch in question claims to be only 79 years old hence a future seventh generation for this family, each with an extant member, is more than possible.

That said, I'd be willing to wager that seven has happened.
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Old 06-25-2007, 03:08 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Psst, Shagnasty's reference was a six. The obit neglected to mention Mrs. Barbara Galloway's children. Five's even easier; my grandmother has two living great-great-grandchildren (and I think the youngest parenthood in that sequence was 19).

For the record, though... Back when my mom was a teacher, she would sometime assign a project to her third-graders asking them to interview the oldest person they know. Based on the number of 60-something great-great-grandparents those kids had, I think it's safe to say that 14-year generations for many generations in a row is still a fairly common occurance. So there are almost certainly cases where a total of ten generations (counting the ancestor) have been born before the 120th anniversary of the ancestor's birth, as in the OP's hypothetical. Here, the problem we run into is that very, very few people ever reach 120. But a fair number top 100, and quite a few get into their 90s, so I'd say that 8 generations somewhere is almost certain, and I wouldn't be surprised if the record were 9.
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Old 06-25-2007, 09:23 PM
commasense commasense is offline
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Pssst, not the way I was counting. Although Shagnasty's cite provided an example of six living generations, but I was counting the gaps, with the youngest generation as level 0. I admit it might have been slightly confusing. But thanks for your observations.

I'm still interested if anyone knows how we could find documented examples. Surely someone doing genealogy research must have come across cases. Does anyone know if there online sources that might even offer an automated way to search?

I just don't know the terminology to use for the search.
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  #10  
Old 06-25-2007, 10:17 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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My great-grandmother saw the birth of her great-great-great-granddaughter shortly before she died in 1969.

Six living generations from the Salisbury (NC) Post, May 11, 1969
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  #11  
Old 06-26-2007, 07:22 AM
plnnr plnnr is offline
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I give you Eva Decatur, my late aunt:

http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2...6042006/196369

Only 4 generations of survivors, but there were 143 of them. Not what you were looking for, but she was a joy.
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  #12  
Old 06-26-2007, 10:33 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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I believe that there are examples of six generations living simultaneously. It's unlikely that there have ever been examples of seven generations living simultaneously. If the average generation gap was as low as 16 years, the oldest person would have to live to be 96. Societies in which people live that long tend not to have people marrying early.
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Old 06-26-2007, 10:36 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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There was a case in Spanish TV a couple years back of a family following that progression of "first baby at 13-15" - the oldest woman was in her 90's and the pregnant oldest daughter, 13 (she would be 14 when the baby was born).

They remarked that it's always the first daughter; later daughters apparently wise up having their niece at home.

Wendell, who said anything about marriage?

Last edited by Nava; 06-26-2007 at 10:37 AM..
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  #14  
Old 06-26-2007, 11:49 AM
commasense commasense is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner
I believe that there are examples of six generations living simultaneously.
Yes, there are at least two cited in posts above yours.
Quote:
If the average generation gap was as low as 16 years, the oldest person would have to live to be 96. Societies in which people live that long tend not to have people marrying early.
Yes, I said all that in the OP.
Quote:
It's unlikely that there have ever been examples of seven generations living simultaneously.
Here's where we disagree. It seems to me that in the history of humanity, seven is certain to have happened, and eight or nine are far from impossible, considering the billions of families that have lived. I suspect an eight or nine gap may have been reliably documented somewhere, sometime within the last two centuries.

BTW, for my purposes, it doesn't matter if members of the intervening generations have died. I'm only interested in the distance between the youngest and oldest living relatives. As long as baby and great-great-great-great-great-great-grandma are still alive, I don't care if great-great-great grandpa died last year.

So it's not number of generations alive simultaneously, it's the gap.
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  #15  
Old 06-26-2007, 05:00 PM
Max Torque Max Torque is offline
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I could swear that there was a picture in an old copy of the Guinness Book of World Records I used to have that showed seven generations of a single family seated together. But, I can't find any online copies, and it doesn't show up on the Guinness records page, either. It may be in the current print edition of the book. Anyone?
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Old 06-26-2007, 05:04 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Certainly not my family. One of my great-grandfathers was a Civil War vet and homesteaded a Kansas farm around 1880. That's only four generations including me.
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  #17  
Old 06-26-2007, 10:30 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Nava writes:

> Wendell, who said anything about marriage?

Excuse me, what I meant to say was that societies in which people live that long tend not to have mothers having babies that young.

_The Guinness Book of World Records 2007_ says that the youngest great-great-great-grandmother was 88 years, 50 days old. That would mean (if the intermediate generations were alive) that six generations would be alive in that case.
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Old 06-27-2007, 09:39 AM
FatBaldGuy FatBaldGuy is offline
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If you accept the Old Testament as evidence, when Adam died at the ripe old age of 903 there were 9 generations of living descendants. The 9th generation was Methusaleh, who lived to be even older, and was Noah's grandfather.

And please don't jump all over me for citing the Bible in GQ. I know a lot of people don't accept it, but it is a possible data point.

Last edited by FatBaldGuy; 06-27-2007 at 09:40 AM.. Reason: Fixed runon sentence
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  #19  
Old 06-27-2007, 11:54 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quote:
Excuse me, what I meant to say was that societies in which people live that long tend not to have mothers having babies that young.
Into which category would you put modern America? We routinely have both people living into their 90s, and mothers in their early teens.
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  #20  
Old 06-27-2007, 12:00 PM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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We had four generations living under one roof. That was pretty cool.
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Old 06-27-2007, 12:03 PM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBaldGuy
If you accept the Old Testament as evidence, when Adam died at the ripe old age of 903 there were 9 generations of living descendants. The 9th generation was Methusaleh, who lived to be even older, and was Noah's grandfather.

And please don't jump all over me for citing the Bible in GQ. I know a lot of people don't accept it, but it is a possible data point.
Just out of curiosity, do YOU believe this? Do you believe that anyone in the history of the planet lived to be 903 years old?
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Old 06-27-2007, 12:45 PM
FatBaldGuy FatBaldGuy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalhoun
Just out of curiosity, do YOU believe this? Do you believe that anyone in the history of the planet lived to be 903 years old?
I don't want this to turn into Great Debates, but to answer your question, Yes, with reservations.

I consider myself to be a Christian, and generally believe the Bible to be true, but I am willing to consider one or more of the following possibilities.
  • In those days "years" may have been calculated in a different manner than we use today.
  • Moses, or some subsequent scribe got the numbers wrong, or they were somehow messed up in translation.
  • In the years before the flood humans had longer lifespans because many/most of the diseases we have today were not yet around, coupled with healthy lifestyle and diet. After the flood, it seems that reported lifespans decreased dramatically, for whatever reason.

Last edited by FatBaldGuy; 06-27-2007 at 12:48 PM..
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  #23  
Old 06-27-2007, 12:49 PM
commasense commasense is offline
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Okay, I would just like to step in and say that "evidence" from scripture is not acceptable for my purposes and ask that any religious discussions take place in a more suitable forum. Thanks.
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  #24  
Old 06-27-2007, 10:27 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Chronos writes:

> Into which category would you put modern America? We routinely have both
> people living into their 90s, and mothers in their early teens.

Compared with the U.S. as of, say, 200 years ago, we have a much higher percentage of people living into their 90's and a much lower percentage of mothers in their early teens.
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  #25  
Old 06-27-2007, 11:39 PM
groman groman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalhoun
Just out of curiosity, do YOU believe this? Do you believe that anyone in the history of the planet lived to be 903 years old?
You know, if you count age in lunar months rather than years, those start to make a bit more sense, at least to me.
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  #26  
Old 10-24-2010, 12:11 AM
JENSTONE0428 JENSTONE0428 is offline
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six generations

Does anyone know what the record for the most generations living in a family is? I am in 4th position of 6 (generation) in my family..... I have 2 daughters that have both had children. My oldest daughter had a little girl so that made my family 6 generations of all female then my second daughter had a little boy 3 months later and made my family 5 female 1 male. My great grandmother will be 101 this Feb. 2011 and seems to be in great shape. I promise if you had to guess her age you prob. wouldn't guess anymore than 75-80! I cant find alot of info on 6 living generations...... are we a rare find? Where do I research this or who should I contact? Can anyone help me?
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  #27  
Old 10-24-2010, 01:46 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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It appears that the record is seven generations alive at the same time:

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content...1_9SB7LFL.html
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  #28  
Old 10-24-2010, 03:21 AM
FuzzyOgre FuzzyOgre is offline
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With the doubling that occurs as you go back into the grandparents it becomes increasingly likely that someone is alive that you dont know about.

Seven generations back there are 128 people responsible for your existence.
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  #29  
Old 10-24-2010, 04:23 AM
Captain Midnight Captain Midnight is offline
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Before my paternal grandmother died, she was a great great grandmother. If my mother in law can live another 15 years (and she is a healthy old Chinese woman) she could also be a double great also.

On the show "Raising Hope", the character of Cloris Leachman (who is 84 years old) is a great great grandmother to the baby on the show named Hope. The grandmother on the show is the beautiful Martha Plimpton who is 40 years old, who had the son who is the father of the baby when she was 15.

I wonder in socieities where getting married very young is the norm, or back in ancient times when people had children very young with those children having children and so on.
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Old 10-24-2010, 01:07 PM
Duckster Duckster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
"The celebration of the life of Mrs. Barbara E. Liles Galloway was held Friday, February 25, 2005 at 2:00 p.m. at Rose Neath Chapel in Logansport. She was a 100.
She is survived by 30 grandchildren, 72 great grandchildren, 54 great great grandchildren and 20 great great-great grandchildren. "

That makes 176 people alive concurrently through the generations.

We attended a wedding of a coworker wedding yesterday. A second marriage for both. Both in their 70s. Both Mormons. During the ceremony the Elder said the two shared 54 grandchildren and about 30 great-grandchildren.

First time we were ever inside a LDS church, let alone a LDS wedding. It was amazing by the number of their friends with multi-multi-generations at the ceremony.
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  #31  
Old 10-24-2010, 01:26 PM
commasense commasense is offline
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Wendell, thanks for the most helpful contemporary reply to my three-year-old question. I suspect that historically there may be examples of seven or eight generations, but this is the best we've found so far.

[I wasn't expecting to count zombie generations!]
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  #32  
Old 10-24-2010, 03:44 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quoth groman, some time back:
Quote:
You know, if you count age in lunar months rather than years, those start to make a bit more sense, at least to me.
The ages start to look reasonable, but then you end up with folks begetting at too young an age. Maybe there's been an eight-year-old father at some point in history, but it can't be very common.
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  #33  
Old 10-24-2010, 04:04 PM
groman groman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Quoth groman, some time back:The ages start to look reasonable, but then you end up with folks begetting at too young an age. Maybe there's been an eight-year-old father at some point in history, but it can't be very common.
I guess any sort of reasonable non-year unit would have to be non-linear. Something like the decibel-year, 20*log(biblical age) = solar age.
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  #34  
Old 10-24-2010, 04:13 PM
groman groman is offline
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I'm past the editing threshold, but something occurred to me -- it's fairly easy to imagine a culture that only starts counting (or resets) age after some sort of initiation or coming-of-age ritual. Combine with ages in months instead of years, and it becomes a somewhat palatable explanation. Although easily falsifiable if we have evidence to the contrary or it would be somehow inconsistent with other data.
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  #35  
Old 12-30-2010, 07:36 PM
ellesa ellesa is offline
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this is crazy! I was just serching for the average gererations still alive in one family. My Grandmother has not been well and I am worried about her.And I have grandchildren, I thought at one time my grandmother would be still alive to see my grandaughter have her first baby, that could happen in approx 15 years my grandaughter will l be 17 hopefully not till she 30, but if it was to happen it would be nice for my grandmother to see it, she would be 97 hey it seemed possible. But latley she is not well, we are five generations living all women.

Great Great Grandmother 83
Great Grandmother 63
Grandmother45
Daughter 24
Grandaughter 2 yr old Lilliah and one one the way !!!



Quote:
Originally Posted by commasense View Post
I was just at the second birthday party for my god-daughter's son. This boy and his cousins have two living great-grandparents.

It got me to thinking about the greatest possible "generation gap" (i.e. the largest number of generations separating two related living individuals) that might exist within a family, and what the actual record might be.

If we assume that a 13-year-old can start a new generation (we're not discussing the propriety or wisdom of this, you understand, just the physical possibilities) and the limit of human life as about 120 or so, then it would seem theoretically possible for a baby to have a living great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent, a gap of nine generations:

0 child
13 parent
26 grandparent
39 great grandparent
52 great great grandparent
65 great great great grandparent
78 great great great great grandparent
91 great great great great great grandparent
104 great great great great great great grandparent
117 great great great great great great great grandparent

Of course, this requires two rather contradictory circumstances: many generations having children extremely early in life, and an elder living to extreme old age. Before the last few centuries, the former was probably quite common, but the latter was quite rare. Today, the opposite is the case.

I did some googling, but couldn't think of any really good key words to use to track down what I'm looking for, and didn't find any answers to my question. But I figured my fellow dopers would have some ideas.

So does anyone know what the record is for largest documented number of generations between two living individuals?
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  #36  
Old 01-22-2011, 11:26 AM
gmaof24now gmaof24now is offline
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We have six gererations

i come from a family of 6 generations my great grandmother is still alive at the age of 107 she lives in flint mi and i and my grand children live in greeneville tn and both of them make up our six generations thank you
Quote:
Originally Posted by commasense View Post
i was just at the second birthday party for my god-daughter's son. This boy and his cousins have two living great-grandparents.

It got me to thinking about the greatest possible "generation gap" (i.e. The largest number of generations separating two related living individuals) that might exist within a family, and what the actual record might be.

If we assume that a 13-year-old can start a new generation (we're not discussing the propriety or wisdom of this, you understand, just the physical possibilities) and the limit of human life as about 120 or so, then it would seem theoretically possible for a baby to have a living great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent, a gap of nine generations:

0 child
13 parent
26 grandparent
39 great grandparent
52 great great grandparent
65 great great great grandparent
78 great great great great grandparent
91 great great great great great grandparent
104 great great great great great great grandparent
117 great great great great great great great grandparent

of course, this requires two rather contradictory circumstances: Many generations having children extremely early in life, and an elder living to extreme old age. Before the last few centuries, the former was probably quite common, but the latter was quite rare. Today, the opposite is the case.

I did some googling, but couldn't think of any really good key words to use to track down what i'm looking for, and didn't find any answers to my question. But i figured my fellow dopers would have some ideas.

So does anyone know what the record is for largest documented number of generations between two living individuals?
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  #37  
Old 03-11-2011, 10:38 PM
Dave Again Dave Again is offline
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21 living generations

Yes this is absurd but technically possible. The world's youngest mother was a child from Peru named Lina Medina. She had a condition called precocious puberty and gave birth to a child at the age of 5 years and 8 months. If she had given birth to a daughter (she actually had a son) and her daughter continued the family tradition of giving birth to a daughter at the same age, by the grand old age of 118 years and 8 months, Lina Medina would the grand matriarch of 20 generations!
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Old 03-11-2011, 10:55 PM
Dave Again Dave Again is offline
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The longest family tree in the world today is that of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551 BC-479 BC) He was a descendant of King Tang (1675 BC-1646 BC). The tree spans more than 80 generations, and includes more than 2 million members.
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  #39  
Old 03-11-2011, 11:05 PM
Snarky_Kong Snarky_Kong is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBaldGuy View Post

And please don't jump all over me for citing the Bible in GQ. I know a lot of people don't accept it, but it is a possible data point.
No, it is not.

Please don't argue with me and just accept that you're wrong.This is GQ and not GD afterall.

Last edited by Snarky_Kong; 03-11-2011 at 11:09 PM..
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  #40  
Old 03-12-2011, 06:38 AM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Tasty aged braaiins!
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Old 03-12-2011, 09:05 AM
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I once saw a picture of six generations of women in a family. The oldest was 103, and was the great-great-great grandmother of the youngest, a ten-month old girl. It was a direct female line of descent, from mother, to daughter, to granddaughter, and so on.

We have several five generation lines in my mother's family. I'm fifty-six, and have a living grandmother, who is one hundred and six. I have no kids, but some of my cousins are grandparents, giving Grandma great-great-grandchildren.
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  #42  
Old 09-18-2011, 11:21 AM
Normalname71 Normalname71 is offline
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Seven Generations is the Record

Forgive me if someone has already posted the correct answer. I read a lot of non-answers and decided to just research it myself.

The most generations in a family alive at one time ever was seven. The current living record is six.

http://www.worldrecordsacademy.org/h...rd_112295.html
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  #43  
Old 09-20-2011, 12:13 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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My stepmother is 93 (I think) and has (among others) a great-granddaughter of 18 and another of 16. Fortunately they are well-behaved, smart, and pursuing academic degrees, so for now it looks like she won't see any great-greatgrandchildren, barring any carelessness or accidents.

I worked with a woman who was a grandmother at 35; her grandchildren seem to be well-behaved and smart however (not sure where they get that from - mst be peer pressure), they are now both about 20 or so and still no prospect of great-grandchildren.
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  #44  
Old 09-20-2011, 12:50 PM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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A friend of mine became a great-grandfather when his mother was still alive--six generations. She died at 103.
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  #45  
Old 09-20-2011, 07:58 PM
Hyperelastic Hyperelastic is offline
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My 86-year-old aunt has a great-great-grandchild. Four straight generations of women knocked up by jerks who didn't stick around.
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  #46  
Old 09-20-2011, 08:21 PM
Dr. Girlfriend Dr. Girlfriend is offline
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A friend of mine is a caretaker for a lady who just turned 107. Her great-great granddaughter is pregnant with the first 3-greats grandkid.

A customer at work became a grandmother at 32. She has a kid and a grandkid about the same age.
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  #47  
Old 11-02-2011, 08:48 PM
delveeny delveeny is offline
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5 Generations

I live in a situation where we have 5 living generations right now, and with a small chance of there being 6. My grandfather is 82 years old and my grand daughter is going to be 4 years old. Now my grandfather's father lived to be 103 years old and my grandfather's oldest living sister is 97 years old and moves like she is much younger. So if my grand daughter was to have a child at a young age, say like sixteen and my grandfather lived to be 95, then there would be six living generations. But for now I do know for sure of five living generations.
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  #48  
Old 11-02-2011, 09:14 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Greenbelt, Maryland
Posts: 11,540
So far we have at least five generations in this zombie thread. Yes, it has been revived at least four times. Maybe that's a record. Seriously, people, the question in the OP has been answered several times. The record is seven generations alive at the same time. We don't need your personal anecdotes about how many generations are alive in your family.
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  #49  
Old 02-07-2012, 03:32 PM
Nikki27 Nikki27 is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Six Generations

http://www.worldrecordsacademy.org/h...rd_112295.html
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  #50  
Old 05-10-2012, 08:50 PM
bforr bforr is offline
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Join Date: May 2012
I just read that the world record is seven living generations. My son, who just turned three months, is the sixth living generation in my wife's family. :-)
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