Grandma’s Pie: A Fun Visual App from BYU

June 23, 2016  - by 
Grandma’s Pie: A Fun Visual App from BYU

By Jill R. Decker

Estonia! Really? After much encouragement, my husband, an extremely visual learner, recently used the Grandma’s Pie app and learned that he has ancestry from Estonia. Grandma’s Pie was developed in BYU’s Family History Technology Lab and is free with a FamilySearch account. Users can access the app through a FamilySearch account or through a GEDCOM file.

Described as a “visualization tool that allows you to see where your ancestry is from at a glance,” Grandma’s Pie “organizes your FamilySearch tree data in pie chart format in order to give valuable insight about your ancestors’ origins.”

Grandma’s Pie shows the countries of up to seven generations. It is color coded and charts the percentages of the user’s known ancestry by country. For example, in my husband’s case, 59 percent are from England, 25 percent are from the United States, some are from the British Isles, a few are from France, and, yes, a few are from Estonia.

By turning off the “Extrapolating Unknowns” option, researchers can see the holes in their family trees—either places in the pie where work is incomplete or where no work has been done. Again using my husband’s chart, and turning off the “Extrapolating Unknowns” option back to the sixth generation of grandparents, we can see that only about half of his ancestors have been identified.

Accessing my own line, I have learned that, going back to my sixth great-grandparents, 26 percent of my ancestors came from England and 20 percent were already in the United States. No real surprises, but it was fun to see the percentages and watch the patterns.

Grandma’s Pie can’t be used to enter or alter information in FamilySearch, but Grandma’s Pie gives visual access to the information stored in FamilySearch. In my “Pie” I noted some variations of the same country. For example, United States vs. USA or Denmark vs. Den. Grandma’s Pie shows me where those discrepancies are so I can correct and standardize them in FamilySearch.

Grandma’s Pie is interesting and definitely worth a look. It can be accessed or through the FamilySearch App Gallery under the category “Charts and Tree Views.”


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  1. I love the name ‘Grandma’s Pie’! The idea of giving people an instant (and easy to read) graphic displaying their origins is genius. Well done tech lab 🙂

  2. Just tried this new feature. It is great! I found three relative immediately whose locations were entered with incomplete data. I hope everyone tries this and takes a few minutes to correct their tree.

    1. I married Larry Earl Allen in the Salt Lake Temple June 19XX. My maiden name is Joanne McLelland. Can you tell me where is find my information from Scotland.