Modern Software Experience


ancestor series


Ahnenlist is a German word. The literal translation is ancestor list. An ahnenlist is an ancestor list; a list of ancestors of in a particular sequence.

ancestor list

An ahnenlist enumerates ancestors in a particular sequence; generations by generation, each new generation listing the parents of the individuals in the previous generation, with these parents in the same sequence as their children, and always listing the father before the mother. Unknown ancestors are skipped.

Ahnenlist for Henry III

First Generation

1. Henry III, b. 19 Sep 1551 JC, Château de Fontainbleau, France, d. 2 Aug 1589 JC,Saint-Cloud, France.

Second Generation

2. Henry II, b. 31 Mar 1519 JC, Saint-German-en-Laye, France, d. 10 Jul 1559 JC, Paris, France.

3. Catharine de Medici, b. 13 Apr 1519 JC, Florence, Italy, d. 5 Jan 1589 JC, Château de Blois, Anjou, France.

Third Generation

4. Francis I, b. 12 Sep 1494 JC, Cognac, Charente, France, d. 31 Mar 1547 JC, Château de Rambouillet, France.

5. Claude of France, b. 14 Oct 1499 JC, d. 20 Jul 1524 JC.

6. Lorenzo de’ Medici, b. 12 Sep 1492 JC, d. 4 May 1519 JC.

7. Madeline de la Tour d’Auvergne, b. abt 1501 JC, d. 28 Apr 1519 JC.

A three-generation ahnenlist. Notice that the ancestors are numbered.

Ahnenlist properties


An ahnenlist is a genealogical presentation format. It is a textual pedigree report, not a graphical pedigree chart.
Lacking genealogy software, an ahnentafel is easily created in a word processor.


An ahnenlist is a report of known ancestors, but it need not be a complete report of all known ancestors. It is common to list all known ancestors up to a fixed number of generations ago.


An ahnenlist is an ancestor report; a proper ahnenlist contains nothing but ancestors. Many individuals in the report have other partners and additional children, but these are not included in the report.


An ahnenlist is an ancestor list, not an ancestor table; the ancestors are not presented in some table format, but in a free-flowing text which can be broken into pages. Page size does not impose a practical limit on the number of generations in an ahnenlist.

vital data

An ahnenlist typically includes all vital data; the birth, death and marriage dates and places, and it is customary to include christening and burial events instead of or in addition to the birth and death events. It generally includes any other basic data that is available, such as the individual’s occupation.
When no vital data is available, some alternative report or chart type, such as the compact presentation of an ahnentafel or a fan chart, may be a better choice.

more data

The free-flowing nature of an ahnenlist makes it an excellent basis for a more extensive ancestor report that includes additional information, such as photos or small biographies.


Many applications will not just produce an ahnenlist, but will optionally  include an alphabetical index as well. Such an index can be very handy for a large ahnenlist.
When presented as a web page, an ahnenlist is often hyperlinked for quick navigation between children and parents.


An ahnenlist is a textual report type well suited for paper publication. It is not limited to small number of generations, will typically include all vital data, and forms an excellent basis for a more extensive report that includes additional data.
An ahnenlist can be quite long. The lack of overview can compensated for by including a few ahnentafels, fan chart or other diagrams.


The German word is ahnenliste (notice the Latin Small Letter E at the end). Some people object to ahnenlist because it is a mix of English and German. Somewhat odd, as genealogists have been using Tiny Tafel for decades.

I speak fluent Dutch and German is similar, yet ahnenlist comes more natural than ahnenliste.

I originally thought of ahnenlist as an Anglicised form that retains the distinctive German word ahnen, but perhaps it really is acceptance of the German word ahnen that genealogists around the world have been using so long into the English language.


not an ahnentafel

A list is not a table. An ahnenlist is not an ahnentafel. Many genealogy applications will produce an ahnenlist, yet mislabel it ahnentafel. As genealogist look to their software for examples, these errors have caused much confusion about what an ahnentafel is.
Most genealogy software that mislabels ahnenlist as ahnentafel does not support ahnentafel at all, but only ahnenlist.

ahnen numbering

An ahnenlist commonly uses ahnen numbering.


2010-10-01 sidebar ahnenliste

Added the ahnenliste sidebar to address a common comment.