Organize DNA Matches in Your DNA “Drawer”

Organize DNA matches with this innovative approach. If you are feeling overwhelmed with your DNA results, you are not alone. Learning to organize your DNA matches in an effective way will not only keep your head from spinning, but will help you hone in on possible matches that will break down brick walls. Here’s the scoop from Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard.

organize your DNA matches

I can tell whose turn it was to unload the dishwasher by the state of the silverware drawer. If either of the boys have done it (ages 13 and 11,) the forks are haphazardly in a jumble, the spoon stack has overflowed into the knife section, and the measuring spoons are nowhere to be found. If, on the other hand, it was my daughter (age 8,) everything is perfectly in order. Not only are all the forks where they belong, but the small forks and the large forks have been separated into their own piles and the measuring spoons are nestled neatly in size order.

Organize Your Imaginary DNA Drawer

Regardless of the state of your own silverware drawer, it is clear that most of us need some sort of direction to effective organize DNA matches. It entails more than just lining them up into nice categories like Mom’s side vs. Dad’s side, or known connections vs. unknown connections. To organize DNA matches, you really need to make a plan for their use. Good organization for your test results can help you reveal or refine your genealogical goals and help determine your next steps.

Step 1: Download your raw data. The very first step is to download your raw data from your testing company and store it somewhere on your own computer. See these instructions on my website if you need help.

Step 2: Identify and organize DNA matches. Now, we can get to the match list. One common situation for those of you who have several generations of ancestors in the United States, is that you may have ancestors that seem to have produced a lot of descendants. These descendants may have caught the DNA testing vision and this can be like your overflowing spoon stack! All these matches may be obscuring some valuable matches. Identifying and putting those known matches in their proper context can help you identify the valuable matches that may lead to clues about the descendant lines of your known ancestral couple.

In my Organizing Your DNA Matches quick sheet, I outline a process for identifying and drawing out the genetic and genealogical relationships of these known connections. Then, it is easier to verify your genetic connection is aligned with your genealogy paper trail and spot areas that might need more research.

This same idea of plotting the relationships of your matches to each other can also be employed as you are looking to break down brick walls in your family tree, or even in cases of adoption. The key to identifying unknowns is determining the relationships of your matches to each other.

Step 3: See the relationship between genetics, surnames, and locations. Another helpful tool is a trick I learned from our very own Lisa Louise Cooke–that is Google Earth. Have you ever tried to use Google Earth to help you in your genetic genealogy? Remember, the common ancestor between you and your match has three things that connect you to them: their genetics, surnames, and locations. We know the genetics is working because they show up on your match list. But often times you cannot see a shared surname among your matches. By plotting their locations in the free Google Earth, kind of like separating the big forks from the little forks, you might be able to recognize a shared location that would identify which line you should investigate for a shared connection.

So, what are you waiting for? Line up those spoons and separate the big forks from the little forks! Your organizing efforts may just reveal a family of measuring spoons, all lined up and waiting to be added to your family history.

More on Working with DNA Matches

How to Get Started with Using DNA for Family History

Confused by Your AncestryDNA Matches? Read This PostOrganize DNA matches quickguide

New AncestryDNA Common Matches Tool: Love It!

The New Ancestry Site: New Features, Mixed Reviews

Ancestry new site screenshotAncestry’s new site is now available to all U.S. users–across browsers, mobile devices, and the PC/Mac divide. It’s more than just a cosmetic or branding overhaul. The way Ancestry explains it, many changes boil down to helping users find family stories and improving their mobile experience. And while using the new site is still optional (see below), there are good reasons to start using it now. Mostly because the old site will be going away–possibly along with data you enter in it from this point forward. Many users adapt without much thought; for others, these changes are painful.

Ancestry logo new site“The new Ancestry experience was based on extensive research of problems our users are facing and their current needs,” states an FAQ on Ancestry. “We surveyed and interviewed thousands of users and found that new and long-time users wanted to be able to find and write their family stories. Based on this information we decided to provide more powerful storytelling features (LifeStory), coupled with tools to make research easier (updated Facts view) as well as organize media efficiently (Gallery)….Also, “the new experience was designed to work better across all mobile devices. You’ll be able to see the media gallery, Historical Insights, and LifeStory, too. More improvements for the mobile experience are planned.”

If you’ve been using Story View, the news is mixed. The new LifeStory feature is the next generation of Story View and “is better integrated into the overall profile page.” But Story View is going away–and as of June 1, “if you edit a Story View, the information will not be changed in the new LifeStory.” Also, the current FAQ says that Ancestry still hasn’t decided whether to transfer data from the Story View to the LifeStory.

Ancestry expert Crista Cowan explains the updated Facts view in the new Ancestry site: “Just like before, you will find the facts you’ve discovered and entered about the life of a person in your tree running down the page like a timeline. You will also find that the parents, spouse and children of the person are on the right-hand side of the page just where they have always been. The big change you will discover is that the sources that support those facts and relationships are now front and center.” Read more from her blog post here. The comments on that post and on the original announcement are great places to read the mixed opinions about the new site.

Below is Ancestry’s video about the new site:

Users can currently opt in or out of the new site (click Classic Site or New Ancestry on the username drop-down menu), but that option will go away soon. If you’re still on the fence about using the new site, read Ancestry’s FAQs about the changes, especially those that affect what changes you make from this point forward. Here’s a detailed list of the planned feature roll-outs, along with the estimated dates for them.

Ancestry for saleHave you backed up your Ancestry tree lately? It’s a good idea to do it regularly. We found ourselves reminding people how to do this recently in the wake of news that Ancestry may go up for auction. Read our how-to post here.

 

How to Use Evernote for Genealogy: The Ultimate Education

organize genealogy with EvernoteUsing Evernote for genealogy will make you a more efficient and effective researcher.

Genealogists all over the world are harnessing the power of Evernote to organize their family history researchThis free software (and website application) can bring all your research materials (text notes, photos and images from mobile devices, video, audio interviews, web content and URLs) together in one place.

Then it goes even further by making all the text items keyword-searchable. So you can much more easily locate that one little piece of information you recall only as “that bit about the fire station he worked for.”

Better yet, Evernote goes with you. With the Evernote software and companion app, your genealogy notes will be accessible from and fully-synced across all your computing devices. Sigh! It’s wonderful!

Here’s how to get started

1. Download the free Evernote software here.

2. Create your free or premium Evernote account. (Click here to learn more about Evernote account options.)

3. Go to your Account page and make note of your unique Evernote email address. (Help>Go to My Account Page>Account Summary and scroll down to “Email Notes to.”)

4. Download the free Evernote web clipper for your web browser.

5. Download the free Evernote app from the App Store or Google Play and sign in to your account.

Now you’re ready to use Evernote to collect your research content and source citation information!

Here are 5 ways to add content to Evernote

1. The Web Clipper: Pull data from websites with the handy web clipper and Evernote will often automatically capture information about the site you got it from.

2. Drag and Drop: Images, scanned  documents and other multimedia content can be dropped right into new or existing notes.

3. Smartphone and Tablet: Snap a photo of a record, tombstone or any other genealogical item. (I like to do a quick photo “Edit” cleanup to get it in the best shape possible). Tap the Share button and send it to Evernote.

4. Email Content: Use your unique Evernote email address to send content from anywhere to your account.

5. Good Old Typing: Click “New Note” and start typing. You can always add other content including merging notes together.

Resources for Success

There’s so much demand for learning to use Evernote for genealogy that I’ve created a variety of helpful resources in video, audio, print and online formats (because everyone learns differently!).

FREE YouTube Video Series: Evernote for Genealogy

I’ve posted two videos so far on my free YouTube series:

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference Guide

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference GuideMy laminated reference guide is super handy for every day support! This guide includes:

  • A Getting Started Checklist
  • Quick Keystrokes
  • Getting the Most Out of Clipping
  • Maneuvering the Desktop Client
  • Genealogical Organization
  • Little-Known Search Strategies
  • Specialized Genealogy Focused Techniques
  • Comparison of Evernote Pricing Tiers

The guide is available for both Windows and Mac users, in both print and digital download format. Click below to view:

The Ultimate Evernote for Genealogy Education

Ultimate Evernote Education abbreviatedGenealogy Gems website Premium members have a full-year’s access to my popular in-depth video classes, which include The Ultimate Evernote for Genealogy Education video series. This series includes the following full-length and mini-series classes:

Evernote genealogy family history organizeKeep up on all my latest Evernote news and Q&As!

Click here to read my Evernote blog posts.

Sign up for my free email newsletter (that sign-up comes with a free bonus e-book!).

Who else do you know who would benefit from getting organized? I hope you’ll share this page with your friends, relatives, family history buddies and fellow gen society members using the share icons below. Thanks!

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