March 25, 2017

MyHeritage DNA Matching – What I Like About It

MyHeritage DNA is new on the scene of genetic genealogy. With the recent launch of their DNA Matching, I decided to give it a test drive for you. I have now uploaded my test results from another company. Follow along as I share what I like about the MyHeritage DNA site…maybe it is just what you’ve been looking for!

MyHeritage DNA matching

By James Tourtellotte, photo editor of CBP Today[1] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

There is no question that the launch of MyHeritage DNA fully into the genetic genealogy market is exciting news. We absolutely need someone to challenge AncestryDNA. Competition is good.

In September, MyHeritage began to provide matching results for individuals who had uploaded their test results from another company to their site. As of today, uploading your DNA test results to MyHeritage DNA is still free, so if you have been thinking about it, you may want to take advantage sooner rather than later. As expected, the matches are only as good as the depth of the database, and it is early in the game. Their DNA database is small, but even now we can get an idea of what to expect from MyHeritage as they take their first steps into genetic genealogy.

One of the most exciting elements of their November 7, 2016 announcement is their development of a Founder Population project where they have hand-picked individuals to represent their reference population for calculating ethnicity. They plan to launch with 25 population groups, but will likely increase to 100 in a fairly short amount of time. This is a far more advanced ethnicity report than is currently offered anywhere else.

Transferring Your DNA Results to MyHeritage DNA

After you have figured out how to download your raw data from your testing company (see my instructions here: http://www.yourdnaguide.com/transferring), and add it to MyHeritage (you have to add a family tree to MyHeritage to do this), you will need to wait the requisite time to process.  Then, you will receive an email notice that you have new DNA matches:

MyHeritage dna match alert

Email notice from MyHeritage regarding DNA matches.

You can access DNA matches when you log on to the site: under Discoveries, click DNA Matches (as shown below).

myheritage-dna-screenshot

My Favorite Features of MyHeritage DNA

As for my favorite features, I like how they list all the possible relationships that make sense between you and your match, taking into account multiple factors like your age, gender, and your genetics instead of a simple, generic range like 2nd-4th cousins. The accompanying chart, which visually shows you all possible relationships, is also very helpful. You can access the chart by clicking on the little question mark icon next to the relationship suggestions.

I like that these suggestions remind us that our genetic relationships have different genealogical interpretations. Meaning that genetically, a 2nd-cousin-once-removed, a first-cousin-twice-removed, and a second-cousin, all fall within a similar genetic range and it is impossible to determine your exact relationship based on the genetics alone.

myheritage-dna-screenshot-relationship-details

I also like how MyHeritage offers all three genetic descriptors of your relationship:

  • total amount of shared DNA
  • how many segments are shared
  • the size of the longest piece of shared DNA.

While this is more of an intermediate to advanced piece to your results, it can be important as your relationship analysis becomes more involved.

Addressing a Concern of Genetic Genealogists

MyHeritage makes a unique claim in their press release about their matching feature addressing a main concern genetic genealogists have: the lack of pedigree information provided by their matches. MyHeritage claims that 95% of their DNA samples have pedigrees attached. That is remarkable! However, from my own quick calculation of my matches, the number with pedigrees is more like 60%.

They also indicated that they will soon be doing a bit of pedigree-analysis for you by providing a list of shared surnames and locations between you and your match. This will be based on the pedigrees you have both submitted and will certainly be a welcome addition.

According to their November 9th Q and A, MyHeritage hasn’t decided yet if the ethnicity features will be available to those who only transfer, and they hint at many more features they have in the works that may only be offered to those who purchase their test.

In short, the MyHeritage DNA site is currently functioning much like the top three genetic genealogy sites (Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, and 23andMe) and like the free tool Gedmatch: it offers a meeting place for those who have been tested at one company to meet those who have tested at another.

More on DNA Testing and Genealogy

Super DNA quick guide bundleDNA testing is an incredible tool for genealogists. With several different types of tests and testing companies, hundreds of matches, and lots of technical jargon, it can be challenging to make sense of it all. My DNA Quick Guides to help you pick the right test, understand your results, and take the next steps with your matches. These guides can be purchased in printed format or digital downloads.

 

Limited time low introductory priced DNA test: Uncover Ethnic Origins with Global DNA Testing at MyHeritage

MyHeritage joins the future of genealogy with the announcement of their new Autosomal DNA testing and services. Learn more about MyHeritage DNA and how they compare to other DNA testing companies. Their low introductory price may not last long!

DNA testing at MyHeritage

MyHeritage has big news this week. They have just launched MyHeritage DNA, their global integrated genetic testing service. MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet says,

“DNA testing is the future of family history. We see DNA as a natural evolution of our business and look forward to harnessing it to reunite families, engage in new pro bono projects, and enrich the lives of millions of users.”

 

The MyHeritage DNA website has two main features. The ethnicity report maps the user’s ethnic and geographic origins. This report shows the percentage of the user’s DNA that comes from different populations around the world. Currently, the MyHeritage database includes 25 ethnicities, but will improve with time due to a special project called Founder Population. The Founder Population project is the largest of its kind ever conducted. MyHeritage says of the project:

“More than 5,000 participants have been handpicked for the project from its 85 million members. They were chosen by virtue of their family trees exemplifying consistent ancestry from the same region or ethnicity for many generations. In the next few months, the project will be completed, resulting in a rich DNA data set of more than 100 ethnicities that will enable MyHeritage to show users their ancestral roots with far greater resolution than other services.”

The second feature called DNA Matches, is used for finding relatives. Additional features are being planned for the future.

The Kit for DNA Testing at MyHeritage

Cheek swab for DNA testing at MyHeritageMyHeritage DNA offers a home-testing kit that is simple to use and affordable to the masses. The kit includes a cheek swab and there is no need for blood or saliva. The cheek swab sample is then mailed to the MyHeritage DNA lab. Once the results have been processed, the user is invited to view the results on the MyHeritage website.

According to MyHeritage DNA, test results take on average 3 to 4 weeks, compared to Ancestry sometimes taking between 6 to 8 weeks.

MyHeritage DNA kits are available for the limited time introductory price of $79, plus shipping and handling.

MyHeritage Cheat SheetYou may feel intimidated about starting your own family tree and navigating on MyHeritage. Genealogy Gems Editor, Sunny Morton, has authored MyHeritage.com Cheat SheetThis guide will help you use MyHeritage.com to its full potential! You’ll learn how to create a family website on MyHeritage, build your family tree, research records and other’s trees, get the most from the built in search tools, quickly navigate the website, and choose the best membership plan (free or paid) for your needs.

The MyHeritage Cheat Sheet is available in a 8.5 x 11 full-color physical guide that can be mailed to you, or as a digital download.

And, for a limited time, you can purchase the MyHeritage Cheat Sheets for 30% off using the code: SAVE30MH. (Offer ends November 30, 2016)

More on Using DNA for Genealogy

To learn even more about using DNA testing for genealogy, enjoy the collection of DNA guides by Diahan Southard. You might also check out our Premium Member video titled “Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy,” in which Diahan walks you through the answers to three important DNA questions. Watch the preview below. Not a Premium Member yet? Join today!

Why I Wish the DAR DNA Policy Was a Little Different

why the DAR DNA

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) accepts limited DNA evidence to prove descent from a Revolutionary War veteran. In my opinion, the DAR DNA policy is a little too limited. Here’s why–and what you can do.

Membership to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has been a holy grail for U.S. genealogists for 125 years. With its requirement of proof of a “lineal bloodline descendant from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence” in three categories: birth, marriage, and death, as well as proof of Revolutionary War Service, membership is exclusive to those with an iron-clad paper trail.

That is, until 2014, when the DAR added DNA evidence to its list of acceptable documents proving a relationship to a Revolutionary War ancestor.

What does the DAR DNA Policy Accept?

The DAR only accepts one of the three forms of DNA testing which is the Y chromosome test, or YDNA. The YDNA traces only a direct paternal line, making it a great choice when trying to link living males with their Revolutionary counterparts. This YDNA is basically passed unchanged from generation to generation, making the modern day holder of the YDNA the proud owner of possibly exactly the same YDNA that fought the Redcoats. That’s pretty cool, don’t you think?

The DAR recently announced that to further help those wanting to use their YDNA as part of their application, they have formed a project at Family Tree DNA, the company that provides the YDNA testing. Projects are absolutely the best way to get the most out of your YDNA testing. There are surname projects, location projects, haplogroup (deep ancestral group) projects, and even special interest group projects, such as this one for the DAR.

While the results of the testing are only available to members of the group, the statistics page gives us an idea of the scope of this project. They currently have 1,242 total members and what looks to be about 430 YDNA tests completed (though it is admittedly difficult to tell based on the chart online.)  This means if you think your paternal line may be a candidate for the DAR, you can have a representative of your line tested and compared to the group. If you find a match, you will have relative certainty that you do connect to that Patriot, and can then be more confident in your traditional research in pursuit of the necessary paper connections.

In April the DAR opened up project membership to include mtDNA and autosomal DNA. They will not be using these two kinds of DNA in their applications (yet), but hopefully this project will pave the way for the addition of those tests in the future (though, for several reasons, inclusion of these tests in the application process will be more difficult.)

Though, in all honesty, they have made the YDNA process difficult enough. Let’s say that you are actually able to trace down multiple generations to find a direct male descendant of your Revolutionary guy to be tested, an individual who is, the DAR mandates, “sharing your maiden name or your mother’s maiden name,” and you convince that unassuming relative to give up his saliva, you still are only half way there. The DAR guidelines also state that you have to have a second individual who is “a descendant of the same Revolutionary War ancestor through a different unbroken male lineage that has been previously proven on a DAR application…” (I added the emphasis here.)

A Practical Example of the DAR DNA Policy

OK, so let’s say you are a genealogical whiz and, let’s face it, you were lucky, and you find two such candidates and have them tested.

Well, the DAR tells us that those two men must match EXACTLY on the 37 YDNA markers tested. Now there is no telling when that YDNA might experience a mutation. So to me it seems a little unfair to require perfection. So it is possible, that even after all the work of finding the right guys to be tested, the test itself may work against you, as even one difference is enough to keep this YDNA off of your application, at least for now.

So while I applaud the DAR for using YDNA testing at all, and for spearheading a special interest project at Family Tree DNA, the reality is that the limitations of direct paternal line genealogy and the requirements of testing make it unlikely that very many will be able to take advantage of the YDNA in their DAR applications.

However, there are a few things you can take away from this article now:

  • First, collect those DNA samples whenever you can, especially for key relatives, like your paternal line and the oldest living generation (whose DNA is less likely to have experienced any mutation.)
  • Second, keep your research paper trail strong. Nothing in the near future of the genetic genealogy industry tells us that distant relative connections (like to your Revolutionary War ancestor) will be provable by DNA alone.
  • And third, definitely look at crowd-sourced studies for your particular DNA. Those surname, location, haplogroup, and special interest group projects I mentioned from FTDNA are just some of the ones that might help your research—or that you could use to help someone else’s. I’ve talked about these studies before: click here to read about them.

My Complete DNA for Genealogy Research Guide Series

I am Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, and the author of a series of genetic genealogy quick guides. My guide called Y Chromosome DNA for the Genealogist is the perfect tool to help guide you through the testing and analysis process. Click here to learn more about this guide and here for all of my guides, or click here to learn more about my series of how-to videos, also available to Gems fans for a special price.

Thanks for sharing this post with your genealogy friends who do DNA research (especially those who may have Revolutionary War ancestors!)

DNA Questions: Are My DNA Test Kits Interchangeable?

“Are unassigned DNA test kits interchangeable? Does Diahan Southard do one-on-one DNA consultations for genealogy?” A listener asks, and we have the answers. 

Simona recently wrote in with compliments and two questions for Diahan Southard. Here’s the Q&A, on more resources from Diahan AND whether DNA test kits from Family Tree DNA are interchangeable if they haven’t been use:

Q: “No one, I mean NO one makes DNA easier and more interesting than…your DNA expert Diahan does! I am curious as to what Diahan charges for phone or email consults regarding who to test for what.”

getting started dna guideA: Yes, I agree, Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide and the resident Genealogy Gems genetics expert, is amazing! Diahan answers a lot of those initial question about who to test for what in her handy Getting Started: Genetics for the Genealogist Quick Guide (click to view/purchase). It’s very affordable and can give you inexpensive answers without needing to pay for one-on-one consultation.

That said, Diahan does offer DNA consultation services. She also teaches a series of how-to videos that’s, again, much more affordable than a DNA video training Genetic Genealogyconsultation (and much more affordable than taking the wrong test or staring at your results afterward with NO idea what to do with them next). Like Simona says, Diahan demystifies DNA like no else does, and these video tutorials are no exception.

Genealogy Gems listeners get a discount on her video series. A year’s access to is regularly $39.95, but Gems listeners can click on a special link to get it for just $24.95. Click here to learn more.

Q: “I have 5 FamilyTree DNA kits on the counter. Are they all the same kits in the raw? I intended them for a Mtdna test, a Y test and 3 autosomal tests for various family folk. Can I switch tests and persons at this stage?”

A: Diahan says: “Yes, the Family Tree DNA kits she has can be used for any test, provided you correlate everything with the customer service team at FTDNA and get all the kit numbers changed to the appropriate tests.

genealogy blog posts countdownDiahan Southard is definitely a valuable “GEM” here at Genealogy Gems. Whether you’re just starting to learn about DNA testing for genealogy research, or you’re trying to get the most out of your results, click here to read tons of free DNA how-tos and advice from Diahan. And thanks for sharing this post with your friends and genealogy buddies!This is so, so important as I know of too many women who have mistakenly used their husband’s YDNA kit number and had their sample run, which won’t produce any results. But FTDNA still ran the test, which means you still pay for it. So be EXTRA careful to make sure you have all of your ducks in a row.”

 

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 192 is Ready

GGP 192The free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 192 is ready. It’s perfect pre-family reunion listening: learn to make oh-so-shareable family videos, gather health info from relatives and more.

It’s tough to pick one favorite part of the new Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 192. I loved the segments that have inspired me as I’m getting ready to attend a family reunion this month:

  • Lisa teaches us how to easily create professional-looking family history videos–and I do mean EASY and BEAUTIFUL (see the example below);
  • A listener shares a favorite database that can help us find and connect with living relatives.
  • The inspiring story of how DNA solved one family’s adoption mystery.

But there’s more! New Genealogy Gems team member Amie Tennant shares insights as she prepares for professional certification. And you’ll hear a fun segment from the Genealogy Gems Book Club interview with author Helen Simonson on The Summer Before the WarYou’ll also hear something new about Dropbox and a new initiative to capture the family histories of remote, indigenous populations.GGP thanks for sharing

Whether you’re in tech mode, prepping for a family reunion or looking for tips and inspiration to be a better genealogist, this episode has something for you.

Who else do you know who will enjoy this free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #192? Will you share it with them? Thank you!

3 Ways to Talk about DNA at Your Next Family Reunion

talk about dna at your next family reunion

Wish your family would take more interest in its history and even have its DNA tested? Here are 3 tips for talking about DNA at your next family reunion or gathering.

In the northern hemisphere, it’s summer time–prime family reunion season! If any of your plans this summer involve visiting with extended family, check out these 3 tips for using DNA to get your family excited about family history.

1. Show your ethnicity results.

Start off with the most flashy and entertaining part of the DNA test, your ethnicity results. Most of the time they don’t actually help you DO family history, but they definitely get people interested.

When you pull out the results, you might also want to have handy your family’s migration chart. This was recently popularized by J. Paul Hawthorne and is a simple way to describe the birth locations of your ancestors so you can visualize the migration of your family over the course of several generations. If you want to try it, here is a link to a spreadsheet I made based on his.

Then you can pull out your DNA test results and talk about how much of your DNA test results are reflected in your ethnicity chart. You might even have a good chuckle over some of the more outlandish claims (22% Scandinavian?! Where did that come from?). Now is a good time to mention any family stories about Native American Princesses or African cousins.

2. Show your DNA match list.

Next, it’s time to segue to how DNA testing really helps your family history. Show them how your relatives show up on your DNA match list. You can then show them an individual on your match list that you have figured out your relationship to.  You can weave in just a bit of the genealogical research you did to find your common ancestor, and end with the cool fact that you actually have DNA from that ancestor, and so does your match! If you are especially lucky, the person you are talking to will also have some connection to this ancestor, and you can tell them that if they take a DNA test, it can help them document their relationship to this ancestor as well.

3. Invite relatives to test.

If you find yourself at a family reunion for a particularly pesky set of ancestors for whom you don’t know much about their parents or grandparents, this is a perfect time to help your family members understand that they might be THE ONE, the one who holds the right combination of genetics to help you bust through that brick wall.

I myself will be attending the Chenoweth Family Reunion this year, though I am only an honorary Chenoweth. They have the ambitious goal of finding direct paternal line descendants of the 21 continuing lines of the 29 grandsons of John Chenoweth and Mary Calvert, and they are over half-way there! As part of their festivities they are including a special DNA lecture on the progress of their project.

Having a specific goal like this really helps focus your family on a particular effort, and lets them track the progress of both the DNA and the traditional research. It is also very unifying, especially for a group as large as theirs. They all wear different colored T-shirts to represent the different lines they descend from. But when we look at the DNA, it is clear that, at least in their YDNA, there is no distinction, they are certainly all part of the same paternal line.

DNA ethnicity results may varyMore DNA Gems from Diahan Southard

3 Reasons to Test Your DNA for Genealogy

When to Do an mtDNA Test for Genealogy

Results May Vary: One Family’s DNA Ethnicity Percentages


DNA Testing for Family History: New Premium Video

getting started in genetic genealogy dna testing for family historyReady to start DNA testing for family history? Or maybe you’ve tested but need help getting the most out of your results. Here’s a new video for you: Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy.

If you’re new to DNA testing for family history–or floundering along the way–the new Genealogy Gems Premium video tutorial may be just what you’re looking for. Millions of people have already tested, and savvy genealogists use those test results to better understand their ethnicity and family connections.

Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard, author of a fantastic series of laminated DNA guides, walks you through the answers to three important DNA questions in Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy:

1. Which test should I take?

2. What will I get from the testing?

3. Will it help?

In this video, Diahan reminds us that “genetic genealogy is not about miracles.” In fact, DNA testing for family history works best when paired with good old traditional research. You know, creating a pedigree chart, finding records, and searching dusty courthouse basements. (You didn’t think you were going to get out of that, did you?)

Diahan breaks down the elements of atDNA, mtDNA, and YDNA testing. You will want to hear why she gives a five star rating to YDNA, but only a three star rating to mtDNA! Click the video below to get a quick preview of this exciting class:

DNA testing supplements traditional genealogy research in many ways. For the majority of us, even the basic autosomal DNA test can provide us with a long list of cousin matches. The more family members you have tested, the more matches you will find. Cousin matches are fun, but they are also the tools we need to break down those brick walls. Maybe your DNA results will lead to finding Cousin Susie who just happened to get the family Bible. Wouldn’t you like to have the opportunity to get to know her?

Premium_2016In my own family, our true ethnicity was carefully hidden. Traditional research hinted to our racial identity, but it wasn’t until a DNA test was taken that we were sure. Adoptees and foster children are also finding DNA tests helpful in locating their next of kin.

Genealogy Gems Premium website members have exclusive access to Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy and 30 additional full-length video tutorials on topics ranging from research strategies to technology tools. They also have access to the full audio archive of the Genealogy Gems Premium podcast. Click here to learn more about Premium website membership.

More Gems on DNA Testing for Family History

YDNA3 Reasons to Test  Your DNA for Genealogy

Confused by Your Ancestry DNA Matches? Read This Post

YDNA for Genealogy: 3 Scenarios When YDNA is Useful

Free Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 191

GGP 191

The free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 191 has been published. You’ll hear German genealogy records online, best apps for local history, Google research success stories and MORE!

I’m pleased to announce that the free Genealogy Gems podcast episode 191 is now published and available for your listening pleasure.

My favorite segments of the show are host and producer Lisa Louise Cooke’s conversations she had on the road at recent conferences with two genealogy experts:

james beidlerFirst, you’ll hear from German expert Jim Beidler about some of the new German resources coming online and how to use them. I love his tips for understanding the difference between the types of records you’ll find, like original church records versus duplicates, abstracts or transcripts.

amy johnson crow interview rootstech 2Then you’ll hear Lisa’s conversation with Amy Crow from RootsTech. It’s fun to hear them get excited about genealogy apps they love! Amy shares four favorite apps for local history. Don’t miss these! Some were totally new to me.

More highlights from this episode include:

  • An inspiring Google research success story from an inspiring young family historian;
  • Tips on organizing Evernote notebooks;
  • A big new update from AncestryDNA with Diahan Southard;
  • Thoughts on The Summer Before the War with Sunny Morton;
  • Upcoming Canadian genealogy conferences;
  • Lisa’s next live-streaming sessions and other genealogy news.

Click here to listen to the Genealogy Gems podcast episode 191. OR….

get the appClick here to get the Genealogy Gems app. In addition to how easy it is to listen, Genealogy Gems app users get access to unique BONUS content in several episodes. Bonus content for this episode: an extra segment about several National Archives websites, with a spotlight on the U.S. and mention of sites for Canada, the U.K., and Australia.

Thumbs-Up: AncestryDNA Improves Genetic Matching Technology

ancestrydna matches improvedDouble good news: AncestryDNA has made some improvements to the way they calculate your genetic matches, but they haven’t messed with the site format or layout. There is one downside–so keep reading.

Change is afoot at AncestryDNA. Again.

While stability and predictability seem like honorable qualities in a company or product, when it comes to tech tools, in the ears of tech companies, those words sound more like dated and old. Of course, we are used to this by now. I had a client tell me recently that he wanted to be in touch sooner, but his grandson “upgraded” his computer to Windows 10 and then promptly left for college the next day, leaving him fighting with a new interface and operating system.

The good news is, you won’t have this problem with Ancestry’s new update. There aren’t any changes to the interface or the layout of the information. In fact, many of you will not even notice at first that your match list has changed. You’ll just see this notification when you log in:

AncestryDNA match improvement announcement

But in fact, there likely have been some adjustments made to your match results:

  • Some of your third cousins have been demoted to fourth cousins.
  • Some of your fourth cousins have been demoted to 5th-8th cousins.
  • Some of your Distant Cousins have disappeared off your match list
  • You have new cousins on your Distant Cousin match list.

In general, from what Ancestry has showed us, you gain more than you lose.

Changes in the dregs of your match list may not seem like that big of a deal. But Ancestry has made some big changes in the way that they are calculating matches. They are getting better at it. Which means you match list is now more representative of your ancestral connections, even at the very distant level.

There are two big pieces to this matching puzzle that Ancestry has tinkered with in this latest update: phasing and matching.

You will remember our discussion on DNA phasing and how it can impact your matching. Ancestry has developed a robust reference database of phased DNA in order to better phase our samples. Basically, they have looked through their database at parent-child duos and trios and noted that certain strings of DNA values often travel together. It’s like they have noticed that our DNA says “A black cat scared the mouse” instead of  “The brown cat ate the mouse” and they can then recognize that phrase in our DNA, which in turn helps our DNA tell the true story of our heritage.

In addition to updating the phasing, Ancestry has revamped their matching method. In the past they viewed our DNA in small windows of information, and then stitched those windows together to try to get a better picture of what our DNA looked like. Now instead they have turned to a point-by-point analysis of our DNA. Again to use a sentence example, with the window analysis we may have the following sentence windows:

ack and J

ill went t

he hill t

etch a pai

l of water.

AncestryDNA match comparisonOf those windows, you may share the “etch a pai” with another individual in the database, earning that cousin a spot on your match page. However, the truth is, that bit could say “sketch a painting” or “stretch a painful leg” or “fetch a pail.” With Ancestry’s new method, they are able to see farther on either side of the matching segment, making this clearly “fetch a pail.” That means better matching, which means more confidence in your cousin matches.

The downside to this update is going to come in the reorganization of some of your relationships. Ancestry has tightened their genetic definition of your third and fourth cousins. Basically, that means that some of your true 3rd cousins are going to show up as 4th cousins, and some of your true 4th cousins are going to be shifted down into the abyss of 5th-8th cousins.

This brings us to the downside of this AncestryDNA update: changes to the Shared Matches tool. The shared matches tool allows you to gather matches in the database that are related to you and one other person, provided you are all related at the 4th cousin level or higher. This tightening of the belt on 4th cousins means that some of them are going to drop through the cracks of that tool, really limiting its ability. Grr. Hopefully Ancestry will fix that, and expand this tool to include all of your matches. They have their fairly good reasons for this, but still….

So, as the winds of change blow yet another iteration of the AncestryDNA match page, I think we can see this as an overall win for doing genealogy with our genetics at Ancestry.

More AncestryDNA Gems

AncestryDNA circles not connectionsWhen DNA Circles DON’T Mean Connections on AncestryDNA

Confused by Your AncestryDNA Matches? Read This Post

AncestryDNA Works Toward Genetics + Genealogy Integration


 

YDNA for Genealogy: 3 Scenarios When YDNA is Useful


YDNANot sure how to use YDNA for genealogy? Check out these 3 common reasons to test–or have a male relative do so.

The Y chromosome DNA test, more affectionately referred to as the YDNA test, is the darling of the DNA testing industry. (At least, I think so.) In fact, of the three kinds of DNA tests, the YDNA is my favorite. It has several excellent qualities that make it useful in many genealogical scenarios, but let’s look at three.

Use YDNA for Genealogy When…

1. You Have a Missing Father

Now all of us should be able to identify with this genealogical problem. Every line in your family history has this problem. Any ancestor whose father is currently unknown falls in this category.

And YDNA can help.

The specific quality of YDNA that makes it so attractive in this case is its faithfulness in passing down its record generation after generation, without fail, without changing, from one man to the next. That means that any living male today has the same (or very similar) YDNA as every male in his direct paternal line, back 8, 10, 12+ generations. Therefore every man’s YDNA is the clue that could lead you to discover that missing father. Usually what it takes is a match in the YDNA database with another descendant of your common ancestor. Ideally, this person knows something that you don’t about that missing father, and the two of you can work together to verify and extend your family history.

2. Your Relative is worried about Privacy

While DNA testing has certainly entered a season of relative acceptance among genealogists, there are still many skeptics who wonder what the eventual ramifications of having your DNA tested might bring. While this is a subject that certainly deserves some attention, the YDNA is actually the easiest test to sell to a nervous relative. The very qualities that make YDNA testing valuable, namely that every male descendant of a given ancestor will have the same YDNA, make it equally impossible to identify any particular individual uniquely. This means that the YDNA record that is created when a man takes a YDNA test cannot ever be traced back to him alone. That same record could have easily come from his brother, or 1st, or 5th cousin.

Similarly, the YDNA test results do not have a link to your health. The regions that are tested are generally parts that are not useful for determining any kind of personal health or trait information.

3. You Have a Surname Mix-up

One of the best applications of YDNA for genealogy comes when trying to disentangle the relationships of various men living in close proximity with other men of the same or similar surname. Having descendants of these men test their YDNA is like traveling back in time and conducting personal interviews of each of these men. It’s like saying, “Excuse me, Mr. Moffat? Is this neighbor of yours, Mr. Moffit, your uncle?” Wouldn’t you give anything for a chance to have that conversation? Well, YDNA testing gets you almost there. You might not be able to determine if they are uncle and nephew, but you will at least know if they are kin.

The bonus quality of YDNA is that it is only offered at one testing company, Family Tree DNA. So you don’t even have to decide where to be tested. Your biggest decision will be in determining what level of testing to choose. If your budget allows, you can go with the 67 marker YDNA test. But the 37 marker test is also a very good choice, and you can always upgrade to more markers at a later date without submitting a new sample.

So what are you waiting for? If you have your own YDNA, go out and start the testing process. If you have been blessed instead with two X chromosomes, send this article over to your favorite male relative and let him know that he holds a very old, very valuable record in his DNA and you want to help him make use of it.

Using DNA for Genealogy Ancestry Family Tree DNA GuidesIf this post gets you antsy to test some “Y,” I recommend you check out two of my DNA quick guides: Y Chromosome DNA for Genealogists and Understanding Family Tree DNA. Or learn more from me at YourDNAGuide.com.