New European Genealogy Records Now Online

Here’s a roundup of European genealogy records recently published online:

  • Danish military conscription rolls and the 1845 census;
  • English military, parish and burial records;
  • Irish police register and digital news archives;
  • records for Portugal,
  • Slovenia and Spain;
  • more Swedish church and household examination registers;
  • and a short documentary about digitizing the Nuremberg Trials.

Ready to explore more of your European genealogy? Millions of records have been published online recently! Scroll down to learn about free or subscription-access records for ancestors from:

  • the British Isles
  • Denmark
  • Ireland
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • and Sweden.

British Isles

Genealogy giant subscription website Findmypast recently announced several new additions for those researching their British family history. Here are the collections along with notes supplied by Findmypast:

British Armed Forces records:

  • British Armed Forces and Overseas Births and Baptisms. Over 92,000 records added. “This collection brings together records held by the General Register Office and The National Archives in one search and consists of birth records of children born to those working within the armed forces, merchant navy, and consular forces, as well as civilian ship passengers.”
  • British Armed Forces and Overseas Banns and Marriages. “Search through over 35,000 new additions and discover marriages pertaining to military personnel, British Consul staff, and other British nationals working overseas. Records will reveal a combination of your ancestor’s birth year, banns year, marriage year, marriage place, occupation, organization, marital status, father’s name, father’s occupation, the names of witnesses and spouse’s details.”
  • British Armed Forces and Overseas Deaths and Burials. “Search over 193,000 records to uncover the details of members of the British armed forces who died while serving their country overseas, British civilians who died while traveling or working overseas, and individuals, including seamen, who died at sea.”

Hertfordshire parish records. Over 87,000 records have been added to their collection of Search Hertfordshire Baptisms. (Transcripts list year and location of baptism, names of parents and father’s occupation. Images may include additional notes.) Nearly 62,000 records have been added to Hertfordshire Marriages. (Transcripts list the name of bride and groom, date of first banns reading, date of marriage, ages, and names of fathers. Images can include considerably more detail.) Over 66,000 records have been added to Hertfordshire Burials. Dating as far back as the 1400s, these records include burial date, age at death and burial place, and potentially more.

Burial inscriptions. The site has added thousands of burial inscriptions to multiple collections. These include 8,000 new records in Yorkshire Monumental Inscriptions (covering cemeteries in Rawmarsh, Thorpe Hesley, and Treeton); over 30,000 records covering 26 burial sites in Northumberland & Durham Monumental Inscriptions.

Denmark

Free genealogy giant FamilySearch.org has added over 71,000 records to their online collection, Denmark, Military Conscription Rolls, 1789-1792. According to the collection description, “The records usually include name, number, birth place, age, residence, height and other remarks.” The total records indexed are just under 150,000; images are included.

Subscription genealogy giant MyHeritage.com has published the 1845 Denmark Census, which also covered the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. “Information recorded in the census includes: name, residence, age, marital status, birthplace, position in family, occupation, and religious affiliation,” states the collection description, which also has additional helpful notes. To read it, click the down arrow next to the collection header when you’ve gotten to the collection page, as shown here. For example, you’ll find a description of how the census is organized in market towns and rural areas, and you’ll find a reminder about changing boundaries in Denmark since 1845.

Ireland

Nearly a century’s worth of the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) General Register has been published online as a free, browse-only record collection at University College Dublin’s Digital Library. “The Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) General Register covers recruitment and transfers within the Dublin Metropolitan Police,” states the collection description. “The first 252 pages of this volume are available through the UCD Digital Library. There are 12,567 entries on these pages, covering the period 1837-1925.”

Irish Times has reported on the digitization of two Irish news sources covering recent years:

  • An archive of 1500 hours of TG4 news bulletin broadcasts by TG4, an Irish-language program, of stories spanning 1996-2004. (Click here to read more on Irish Times.)
  • A new collection covering the Troubles and the 1990s peace process. The archive “features a wide range of material relating to the 1990s when Northern Ireland made the transformation from conflict, to a peace process, to the Belfast Agreement of April 1998.” Click here to read more on Irish Times.)

Portugal

Those researching Portuguese ancestors should know that FamilySearch continues to add to its collections of free genealogy records for Portugal. Updated collections in January 2018 are:

Slovenia

FamilySearch has nearly doubled the numbers of indexed names its free database, Slovenia, Ljubljana, Funeral Accounts, 1937-1970. The collection describes these records as follows: “Sheet recording the date and place of birth, death, and burial, as well as the cost of the burial for those dieing in Ljubljana, the capitol of Slovenia. The birth date and place are also reported. Includes an index which covers years 1915-1936 for which certificates were not acquired.”

Spain

Online Journalism Blog reports on the publishing of the first central database of victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime. The database has been created by the Innovation and Human Rights (IHR) association to document the “125,000 people [who] died, disappeared or were repressed in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and during the Franco dictatorship, according to historians. Many of their families still do not know, 40 years later, what exactly happened to them.”

FamilySearch.org has added nearly 140,000 indexed names to its free online collection, Spain, Diocese of Cartagena, Catholic Church Records, 1503-1969. According to the collection description, “These records include: baptisms, confirmations, pre-marriage investigations, marriages, deaths, indexes, testaments, and parish financial and land records. Some of these records have been indexed and are searchable as part of this collection. Additional indexed records will be published as they become available.”

Sweden

MyHeritage.com announced the addition of three decades of records to its important collection, Sweden Household Examination Books, 1860-1930. This “primary source for researching the lives of individuals and families throughout the parishes of Sweden” now extends back two more decades (1860-1880) and forward an additional decade (1920-1930) not previously covered on the site. MyHeritage claims these records are uniquely available online at its site.

FamilySearch has added more than 35,000 indexed names to its collection, Sweden, Örebro Church Records, 1613-1918; index 1635-1860. Note that actual record images are available earlier and later than the timeframe of records currently indexed. As always, FamilySearch volunteers continue to index additional records and the site posts these updates as frequently as possible.

The Nuremberg Trials

Harvard Law Today recently reported on its progress digitizing some of the 20th-century’s most valuable legal history documents: a million pages relating to the Nuremberg Trials, held just after World War II to prosecute the Nazi regime. They have released this short video about the ongoing project.

More help for European genealogy

We make it easier to start researching your ancestors in a new country! Our free series of beginning genealogy articles introduce you to the key records and research strategies for your ancestors’ homelands, including these European nations:

Scots-Irish genealogy: Getting started (NEW!)

Beginning Swedish genealogy

Irish genealogy help: DIY and Pro

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

About the Author: Sunny Morton

About the Author: Sunny Morton

Sunny is a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems; her voice is often heard on the Genealogy Gems Podcast and Premium Podcasts. She’s  known for her expertise on the world’s biggest family history websites (she’s the author of Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites); writing personal and family histories (she also wrote Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy); and sharing her favorite reads for the Genealogy Gems Book Club.

MyHeritage DNA Matching Update AND a New Chromosome Browser!

We have a MyHeritage DNA matching update! Not only has MyHeritage DNA released a much better matching algorithm, the company that lets you upload your DNA for free has also introduced a chromosome browser. Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard shares the good news—and a quick introduction to her favorite matching tools on MyHeritage DNA.

In my first job as a grocery store clerk, I learned that most customer service issues can be solved if you listen carefully to the customer and do all you can to make it right. This is what MyHeritage has done.

For months after the launch of their in-house DNA testing product in the fall of 2016, their DNA matching algorithm had problems. Even a year later, there were concerning reports of discrepancies between the match lists of parents and children. And yet, the genetic genealogy community was patient—because MyHeritage had so far delivered on every promise they had made to the community. They had delivered a competitive origins (ethnicity) product, adopted a stringent privacy policy, and let everyone upload their DNA for free.

MyHeritage DNA matching update

Now in January of 2018, all that patience has paid off. MyHeritage has updated its matching algorithm and recalibrated all the DNA matches in their system. The result is a much more robust depiction of our relationships with others in the database. Most users are seeing a dramatic increase in the total number of matches, and a significant decrease in the number of false positives, or matches that are on your match list but shouldn’t be.

Additionally, to the delight of many genetic genealogists, MyHeritage has launched a chromosome browser. This tool allows you to see the locations on the DNA that are shared with your match. Many genetic genealogists like to use this tool to help them visualize the shared DNA, and group their DNA matches.

Now that the matching algorithm has improved, I’d like to recommend three great tools you should be using at MyHeritage to help you identify your genetic matches. Yes, one of them is the chromosome browser–but take a look at these others, too. And take note: you won’t find these exact tools at AncestryDNA.

Tool #1: List of possible relationships for your genetic matches

In a recent blog post, I described how you can narrow down your possible relationships to your genetic matches by comparing your total shared DNA to a table developed by genetic genealogy experts. MyHeritage DNA simplifies that process for you with a customized chart for each of your genetic matches. Each chart visually shows you all possible relationships, even taking into account factors like your age and gender.

To access the chart, log in to your MyHeritage account. Under the DNA tab, select “Genetic Matches.” Then click on the little question mark icon next to the relationship suggestions:

Then you’ll see a chart that’s been customized for this relationship by highlighting all your possible relationships to this genetic match:

Tool #2: Longest piece of shared DNA with your genetic matches

In addition to the range of possibilities above, you can also be misled by the total amount of DNA you share with your genetic matches. Yes, you might actually be third cousins. But if your ancestors lived in a community that intermarried a lot because they were isolated geographically or culturally, you might also just share a lot of common DNA. You might be sixth cousins three times over.

The size of the biggest piece of DNA you share with a genetic match is really important for puzzling this out. Let’s say two of your genetic matches each share 30 centimorgans of DNA with you. Both are predicted to be your fourth cousins, but one person’s longest shared piece of DNA is 18 centimorgans long, and the other’s is 9 centimorgans long. The closer match–the one you should pursue first–is the one that shares the longest piece of DNA.

At MyHeritage DNA, you can sort your list of genetic matches by longest shared segment. At the top of your list, under the “All” drop-down menu, select “Largest Segment.” You may see your match list rearrange itself (this is a clue that the total shared DNA doesn’t tell you the whole story about genetic relatedness):

Then, click on your top genetic matches to see more detail about that longest segment:

Tool #3: NEW Chromosome browser

The new chromosome browser at MyHeritage is what they’re calling an “initial release” or first draft that “will be enhanced further soon.” It’s currently embedded in each of your individual match pages. That way, you can compare what areas of genetic material you and each of your matches have in common.

“It’s a free feature that can be used by all users on MyHeritage who have taken the DNA test or uploaded DNA data,” says a company press release. “It shows the shared segments between you and a DNA Match in purple. When you hover your mouse over any shared segment you can see the genomic position of the shared segment, the size of the segment, and the number of SNPs there. Grey segments are not shared with the DNA Match and crisscrossed sections were not analyzed due to the lack of SNPs in those regions.”

I’ll be back soon with more tips and tutorials on getting the most out of the new MyHeritage chromosome browser. I just wanted to alert you that it’s there—one more valuable tool in the MyHeritage DNA matching toolbox.

Advanced DNA tools for family history research

If you’re ready to get more genealogy information out of your DNA testing experience, consider whether Diahan’s Advanced DNA Bundle might be a good investment for you. These laminated guides are available singly (click on individual titles below) or as a value-priced bundle and can help you with very specific “next steps:”

  • Gedmatch: A Next Step for Your Autosomal DNA Test. Gedmatch is a third‐party tool for use by genetic genealogists seeking to advance their knowledge of their autosomal DNA test. This guide navigates you through the myriad of options and point out only the best tools for your genetic genealogy research.
  • Organizing Your DNA Matches. With millions of people now in the possession of a DNA test–and most with match lists in the thousands–many are wondering how to keep track of all this data and apply it to their family history. This guide provides the foundation for managing DNA matches and correspondence, and for working with forms, spreadsheets, and 3rd party tools.
  • Next Steps: Working With Your Autosomal DNA Matches. This guide outlines what to do next to maximize the power of DNA testing in genealogy. With this guide in hand, genealogists will be prepared to take their DNA testing experience to the next level and make new discoveries about their ancestors and heritage.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

The Author: Diahan Southard

The Author: Diahan Southard

Your DNA Guide

Diahan Southard is Your DNA Guide here at Genealogy Gems! She has worked with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, and has been in the genetic genealogy industry since it has been an industry. She holds a degree in Microbiology and her creative side helps her break the science up into delicious bite-sized pieces for you. She’s the author of our DNA guides Getting Started: Genetics for Genealogists, and Y Chromosome DNA for Genealogists (click STORE in the menu above)

New Records Include German and Holocaust Records Online

You can now find more Holocaust records online. Read here about the 1939 German Minority Census and Polish and Czech Holocaust records. Also featured this week: German vital records, new collections from Belgium and Estonia, and an update to the US War of 1812 pension files.

New Holocaust records online at MyHeritage

Among new Holocaust records online is the German Minority Census, 1939 at genealogy giant MyHeritage.com. The collection contains “the names of all individuals listed in the 1939 census of Germany who lived in a household where at least one person in the household had a Jewish grandparent.”

According to MyHeritage, “Many of these people were killed in the Holocaust and this census is the last written trace of them. These approximately 410,000 individuals come from the supplement census cards that recorded each person’s Jewish background. Information listed may include: name, maiden name, birth date, birthplace, residence, death date, death place, place of imprisonment, deportation or emigration, and whether they were a Holocaust victim. Some of this information comes from the original census cards, and some of this information was researched and annotated much later. This collection is provided in partnership with Tracing the Past.”

German vital records

Genealogy giant Ancestry.com has added or updated the following German collections

More Holocaust records online

Two free Holocaust-era databases at Ancestry.com are also worth mentioning, as one is new and one has just been updated. Note: these collections are free to search because the indexing was done by World Memory Project contributors from the digitized holdings of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). Collection descriptions below come from the USHMM website:

  • Poland, Łódź Ghetto Transportation Lists, 1939-1944 (new) “consists predominantly of the records of Chaim Mordechai Rumkowski, the Eldest of the Jews in the ghetto in Łódź, Poland, and of his administration. Included are letters, announcements, circulars, charts, publications, reports, essays, name lists, and photographs.”
  • Prague, Czechoslovakia, Selected Holocaust Records, 1939-1945 (updated) consists of “records generated by German occupational institutions and Czech auxiliary agencies dealing with matters of internal security and racial policy, especially anti-Jewish measures. Includes reports regarding aryanization of Jewish businesses, questionnaires of Jewish properties, lists of Jewish workers, documents regarding situation in Theresienstadt (death statistics), Lety camp, and deportation of Jews to Theresienstadt. Also includes lists of art objects in Sbirow castle (including Jewish art), information regarding Jews, Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), and Russians in Gdańsk, Poland, and various propaganda materials.”

More European genealogy records online

Belgium

Google Translate provides this translation of a January 17, 2018 announcement at internetgazet for Neerpelt, Limburg, Belgium: “The municipality has digitized all civil status documents and makes the documents that are more than 100 years old publicly available via dept. Neerpelt.be. That was announced today. Through this website you can view, save and print birth, marriage and death certificates from 1797 to 1917. Thanks to a search function, you can easily look up the birth, marriage and death certificates of residents of Neerpelt and SHLille.”

Estonia

Also new at Ancestry.com is Estonia, Census, Tax and House Lists, 1784-1944. This collection for this northern European country spans over 150 years’ worth of “various lists of residents of Estonian towns and rural municipalities,” according to its description. “These documents serve as population registers and contain personal and family information about inhabitants of each administrative unit, regardless of their social status or religion. The collection covers two historical eras: Estonia under the Russian Empire (the period until 1917, in which records were kept in German and Russian) and during the Estonian Republic (1918-1940, in which records were kept in Estonian language). The structure and format of the records vary between regions and over time. There are also gaps in certain periods and places, as some of the municipal archives have not been preserved.”

Update to free US War of 1812 Pension Files at Fold3

The growing collection of free War of 1812 Pension Files at Fold3 is now 2/3 complete, after a January 17, 2018 update. Because pension eligibility for veterans or their widows was extended decades after the war, you may find valuable family history information dating for many years after the conflict ended. Documents vary but among them, you may find declarations of pension/widow’s pension; Adjutant General statements of service; questionnaires completed by applicants; “Pension Dropped” cards; or marriage, death or discharge certificates. These may have information on the veteran’s age, residence, service details, and death, as well as identifying details about soldiers’ widows who applied.

A note from the site states, “Although digitization of the War of 1812 pension files was previously temporarily paused, Ancestry, the National Archives, and the Federation of Genealogical Societies are working in cooperation to resume digitization. The first of these newly digitized pension files are already available for free on Fold3, with more to be added to the site in installments throughout 2018 and beyond. So if you don’t see your ancestor’s pension file yet, keep checking back!”

Help put more Holocaust records online

Volunteers power millions of new online genealogy records every month–including Holocaust records. For example, you can help curate a growing collection of Holocaust-related newspaper articles from your local newspapers for the History Unfolded project of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Do it on your own, or with your local genealogical or historical society! Click here to read more about how you can help.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Sunny Morton

Sunny Morton

Sunny Morton is a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems; her voice is often heard on the Genealogy Gems Podcast and Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast. She’s especially known for her expertise on the world’s biggest family history websites (she’s the author of Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites); writing personal and family histories (she also wrote Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy); and sharing her latest favorite reads for the Genealogy Gems Book Club. Sunny is also a Contributing Editor at Family Tree Magazine and the NGS-award-winning Co-Editor of Ohio Genealogy News.

Common Surnames: How Unique is Yours?

Common surnames can make genealogy research more challenging. But learning more about your last name (including how common it is) can also enrich your family history. Check out 4 free online tools for learning more about your family’s surnames. Then share what you learn the next time your relatives get together!

common surnames

If you have common surnames on your family tree, you may have become frustrated at times trying to determine whether the “John Williams” or “Elizabeth Smith” you’re looking at in a record belongs to your John or Elizabeth. Would it make a difference if you discovered they lived in an area where there very few folks by those names during that time period? It would. Furthermore, it would probably also be nice to know things like where else in the world–or within England, for example–that surname is found now (or was in the past).

The enormous amount of census, vital records, and family tree data now online is making it easier to answer questions like these. Below, find free online tools for mapping common surnames (and less-common ones, too) across time. They include surname search tools hosted by a couple of our Genealogy Giants, Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com. What can you learn from the following sites? Do they agree with one another? Check them out!

Your surname in the 1990 and 2000 U.S. censuses

common surnamesThe US Census Bureau has created databases of last names that appear in recent censuses. You can look at the results a couple of ways:

  • Click here to search for your surname among the most common 150,000 surnames from the 1990 and 2000 censuses. These surnames cover about 90% of those who participated in the census.
  • Click here to view a list of all surnames that appear 100 or more times in the 2000 census. (Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Miller and Davis all top a million occurrences!) According to this webpage, the top 15 surnames have remained fairly steady in the most recent three censuses with one exceptional trend: Spanish-origin surnames are starting to make the lists.

common surnames england walesCommon surnames of England and Wales

Find out how common your surname is today in England, Wales, and the Isle of Mann. The Surnames of England and Wales – the ONS List has a searchable database of almost 270,000 surnames shared by 54.4 million people (it excludes surnames occurring fewer than 5 times in the total database of nearly 60 million people). The list compiled between 1998-2002 does have some duplication and misspellings: “experience suggests that multiplying the result for your surname by 0.93 will give a good idea of the living population for your surname.”

What’s in a name? Ancestry.com answers

Ancestry.com hosts this fun and free tool for those with roots in the U.S., England, Scotland, and Wales:

Remember, it’s not a precise genealogy research tool. But it can prove interesting. When I ran this search for the married surname of our Genealogy Gems DNA expert, Diahan Southard, I was shown (among other things) this interesting map illustrating how the Southard family was spread across the United States in 1920:

common surnames

Surname directory at MyHeritage

MyHeritage.com hosts a searchable surname directory taken from data found on its site. To search the surname directory, choose the first letter of the last name from the alphabet shown below the search screen. (If you enter a name in the blue search boxes, you’ll be taken into their record-searching area, which isn’t the same):

common surnames

You won’t find all names surnames here, though you may find variant spellings of yours. (I never knew McClellan could be spelled in so many different ways!) Here’s a map of how they find my husband’s surname, Morton, scattered across the globe:

common surnames

Looking for more surname distribution maps? Click here to find a list organized by country.

Next Steps: Try this with your common surnames

common surnames Google search strategiesIf you’ve taken a DNA test…Thousands of people are compiling their same-surname DNA test results into surname projects. Click here to learn more about how to “social network” your yDNA test results in a surname project.

If you’re a Genealogy Gems Premium subscriber…you can watch Lisa Louise Cooke’s fabulous video tutorial, Common Surname Google Search Strategies. Use her tips to find even your most commonly-named relatives online! (Not a Premium member? Click here to learn more–for one low price, you’ll get a year’s access to hundreds of Premium videos and podcast episodes!)

Ellis Island Passenger Arrival Records: Relatives Now Searchable at MyHeritage

Millions of Ellis Island passenger arrival records include the names of the arrivals’ relatives, but those names haven’t been searchable in online indexes–until now. MyHeritage has added over 26.6 million relatives’ names to its passenger list collection and even digitally stitched together the pages for easier reading.

Ellis Island Passenger Arrival Records

New Names in Ellis Island Passenger Arrival Records at MyHeritage.com

Recently, I interviewed Ellis Island experts and shared my ongoing immigrant ancestor discoveries in the free Genealogy Gems Podcast (episode 211) and Premium Podcast (episode 153). I’ve made progress by searching Ellis Island records at different websites and by learning about clues we often don’t recognize in the records themselves. So I was pleased to hear that MyHeritage has added its own Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists (1820-1957) collection and given it two unique features:

  • Its 94 million names include–for the very first time–26.6 million names of the relatives of passengers. Passenger lists recorded both the name of a relative or friend living at the arrival’s last residence and the name of a relative or friend the passenger was to visit in this country. Many times, this chain of names represents family links between an immigrant’s old and new homes. MyHeritage has indexed these names; their press release says they’re the first to do so. A quick check of Ellis Island collections at Ancestry.com, Ellis Island.org, Steve Morse’s One-Step Pages and FamilySearch confirms that none of them mention relatives’ names in their index descriptions.
  • MyHeritage has stitched together the two-age passenger manifest images, which I find pretty cool. It’s much easier not to miss the fact that there is a second page for each record, and to trace your ancestor’s line straight across the page. Here’s what it looks like:

Ellis Island passenger arrival records

Searching for Ellis Island Immigrant Ancestors

Louise (on the right) just before departure for America.

Interestingly, this search engine is the first one of any genealogy records site to pull up both sets of arrival listings for my great grandmother Louise Sporowsky and her daughter Martha, whom I talked about in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode #153.

I’m very fortunate that by a quirk of circumstance Louise and Martha were recorded twice in the same passenger list. But because each entry had variations, they’ve never come up in the same search – that is until now!

The search was a simple one: the name “Sporowksy” & 1910 as the year of arrival:

Ellis Island passenger arrival records

Premium Members may listen to that episode to find out why Louise and Martha had two passenger listings for the same crossing and what I learned from looking at both of them.

Here’s a tip: There isn’t a separate search field for relatives’ names in the MyHeritage index. I wondered about that, and Daniel Horowitz at MyHeritage confirms that you just use the regular search fields for first and last names of the passenger’s relatives. Results will include both the passengers themselves and the relatives they named.

Learn More about Ellis Island

Lisa and Barry by Beth Forester Ellis Island passenger arrival records

Me with Barry Moreno at Ellis Island. Photo by Beth Forester.

Listen to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #211: Barry Moreno, Historian at Ellis Island, talks about the life cycle of this busy U.S. immigration station (1892-1954) and his research into the lives of Ellis Island employees.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Time to Check Your DNA Matches Again? Why You Should Review Them Regularly

Has it been awhile since you have perused your DNA matches? Here’s how reviewing your DNA test results regularly can help your family history.

It's time to check DNA

By now, many (if not most) of the genealogists I meet at conferences have had their DNA tested. Good for you! But how often are you checking on your DNA matches? It’s easy to forget about them after that first exciting look at your match list and the flurry of emails that you received. You should be checking in regularly! Here are two great reasons why:

1. You may have new DNA matches.

More and more people are flocking to these companies to have their own DNA tested. Why just this month, AncestryDNA announced they have tested 5 million people. It was only in January of 2017 that they announced they’d hit 3 million, so they’ve added more than two million people so far this year.

What this means is that just as new records are constantly being added online (we cover millions of new additions every Friday on this blog), so are new DNA test profiles. That means you will keep discovering new DNA matches in your list over time. That elusive cousin you’ve been hoping would test may do so tomorrow. A key relative on your dad’s side–maybe on a line with unknown parentage–may have tested three weeks ago, with results now pending. (Genealogy Gems Editor Sunny Morton told me she has had two ground-breaking DNA matches in the past two months alone. Lucky her!)

In AncestryDNA, you can actually sort to view new matches. From your AncestryDNA home page, click View all DNA matches. Then select the filter New by clicking on it.

AncestryDNA will now just show you, in order of degree of relation, any matches you haven’t yet clicked on to review more closely. This can be quite a time-saver. And it can also help remind you of any matches you may have already seen in passing but haven’t closely reviewed.

Another tip: under each of your AncestryDNA matches, you can also see how long it’s been since that person logged in, as shown here.

Perhaps you emailed someone a while back but never heard anything (or didn’t notice a response). If you can see that a person is actively using the site now, it may be worth reaching out again.

2. New tools to review your DNA matches may be available.

While you’ve been busy recently tracking down census records and virtually visiting the courthouses, your DNA testing companies have been busily adding to their offerings. Just recently, MyHeritage revealed a beautiful, streamlined way to review each of your DNA matches. (Remember, it’s free to upload your DNA there. Click here to see how. You can also purchase a test from MyHeritageDNA.)

At MyHeritage, your list of DNA matches shows your genetic relatives who have tested, how much DNA you share, and your possible relationship. The new DNA Match Review page helps you navigate that information and decide what to do with it. This is what the new MyHeritage DNA Match Review experience looks like:

In the past, I’ve talked on this blog about several excellent (and still-evolving) tools on AncestryDNA, such as:

Competition in the DNA market space means that every company continues to add new and improved features to their site and testing experience. It’s worth checking back to explore what new information and tools might be available.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line here is that your testing company is always working to improve your DNA testing experience. So you should regularly return to your lists of DNA matches at the website of every company where you have tested. If you’re not sure how to use the site, please read some of my DNA posts on this blog and consult my quick reference DNA guides about these testing companies:

Keep checking back on those DNA matches. You never know what discovery might be just a click away.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

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