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!

Help! My Email Doesn’t Fit in Viewer Window

screen resolution settingRecently I heard from Carol in St. Louis, Missouri, who was frustrated that she couldn’t read my entire email newsletter. “Would love to know what you are saying,” she says. But my newsletter email doesn’t fit in her email window. “I don’t want to toggle to the right to see the end of each line and then have to toggle back.”

The good news I shared with Carol is that she could fix this problem–and so can anyone else who has trouble with emails not fitting in their viewers.

Email sizing is related to your computer’s screen resolution setting, and a variety of other variables. It’s different for everyone. 98% of our readers see the email perfectly fitted to their screen.

As you can see in the screen shot here, the email Carol forwarded me appears neatly and completely in my email window in my browser. (I’m on a PC using Firefox.) In cases where it doesn’t come through to your email account that way, we provide a link at the top of the email that you can simply click to view the email on a new web browser tab fitted to the page.

sign up newsletterWant to receive our free email newsletter? Just sign up in the box in the upper right-hand corner of this webpage or on the Genealogy Gems home page. It’s free, we don’t share your email address with anyone else, and you get a free e-book of Google tips for genealogy just for signing up.

FamilySearch: Civil Registrations, Military, SSDI and More!

It’s hard to keep up with the content constantly being added online at FamilySearch! If you (like me) spent the past month squeezing the last bit of travel anlaying_low_with_laptop_400_clr_5364d sun from the summer, you may have missed some great new content. Here’s a recap:

This month, over a half million indexed records and images have already shown up from Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Guatemala, Italy, New Zealand and the United States. Highlights include updates to the United States Social Security Death Index, images from the Czech Republic, Censuses, 1843–1921, collection, indexed records from the Hungary, Civil Registration, 1895–1980, collection, images from the new U.S., Indiana, Naturalization Records and Indexes, 1848-1992, collection and the Italy, Mantova, Mantova, Censuses (Comune), 1750-1900, collection, and indexed records from the U.S., Maine, State Archive Collections, 1718-1957, collection.

In August, FamilySearch.org added more than 45 million indexed records and images from BillionGraves and from Italy, the U.S., England, New Zealand, Sweden, Italy, Jamaica, Chile, Honduras and more. Notable U.S. additions are updates to the New Orleans Passenger Lists and newly-indexed war collections, including: the United States, World War II Prisoners of War of the Japanese, 1941-1945, collection, the United States, Korean War Battle Deaths, 1950-1957, collection, and the United States, Casualties of the Vietnam War, 1956-1998, collection.

A few more cool additions include:

  • More than a half million images to a growing collection of Italy’s Civil Registrations;
  • Nearly a million indexed Jamaican and a quarter million Chilean civil registrations;
  • More than 2.5 million indexed recods from New Zealand passenger lists (1855-1973);
  • Nearly a half-million indexed names from Boston passenger lists (1820-1891);
  • Over 41 million indexed names added to the U.S. Public Record Index.

Search these and 3.5 billion more records at FamilySearch.org. Records are always free to search here, thanks both to the organization itself and thousands of volunteers around the world who index records. Join the effort here!

Meet the Author of a Riveting Family History Tale in the Newest Episode of The Genealogy Gems Podcast

Recently I got an email from Jay in New York :

“I have been catching up with all of your family history podcasts. Over the years I have collected a wealth of information on the family. Some good, some not-so-good, some out in-the-open, some hidden.
 
How do you deal with revealing “forgotten” items about family members to other family members? I had an uncle who had a marriage at a very young age, and would like to have forgotten about it. My mother told me about it. I put it on the tree. While showing off the fruits of my labor to his family this “forgotten” marriage was revealed with not happy responses.
 
The things we find in our tree may not always be “good”, How does a person deal with that? and revealing it to others?”
 
This is a great question! And in the newest Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #120 I have some answers for you.
 
Secrets, small and large can be found in many families.  Skeletons in the closet are often secrets closely guarded by family members.
 
It’s a tricky business navigating your way through the shakier branches of the family tree, so I’ve invited a special guest to join me on the show who has done an incredible job of climbing those branches in his own family.
 
Steve Luxenberg is a Washington Post associate editor and award-winning author. In his 25 years at The Post, he has headed the newspaper’s investigative staff and its Sunday section of commentary and opinion.  Steve is going to join me for the full episode to talk about investigating and dealing with family secrets as he did in  his book Annie’s Ghosts.  It’s a riveting tale that kept me feverishly tapping the “Next Page” key on my kindle. 
 
Annie’s Ghosts is about a family secret that Steve stumbled upon in the late 1990s.  His mother, who had always claimed to be an only child, had a sister, Annie.  And while that was a big surprise all by itself, it was just the beginning of a series of secrets and revelations that Steve unearthed by tapping into his long career as an investigative journalist, and employing newly found genealogy techniques and strategies. 

In this interview we talk about being aware of what’s missing in records and stories, rather than just focusing on what is on the page.  For those of you who are Premium Members this discussion is a great follow up to Premium Episode #77 where we talked about being more keenly aware during our research.

Steve’s also going to share he thoughts on storytelling, which he truly masters in this book. 
 
And then we get into some of the genealogical techniques he used: how to avoid tainting memories in Interviews, and how to balance the give and take as well as win trust with the person you are interviewing.  


And speaking of trust, Steve describes how he was able to be incredibly successful in obtaining sensitive documents and getting cooperation from various government agencies and other repositories.
 
He’s also going to tell us about a little known legal maneuver that he made that really made the difference for him in obtaining some of the most closely held documents and how you can use it too!
 
And finally he’ll share his personal feelings about what it was like to get a add a new member to his family, his long lost Aunt Annie.


Enjoy!
 
Quotes from Annie’s Ghosts:
 
“What I didn’t expect, as the week wore on, was that the family would expand to take in a new member.  But that’s what happened.  As people dipped in and out of the records, as the debates flew about what we knew and what we didn’t and whether we should be digging around in the past, Annie gradually became a part of the family consciousness.  She was no longer just a name on a hospital record.  She was no longer just a secret.”
 
“I stopped thinking like a son and started thinking like a journalist.”
 
“I offer to send her the letters; it’s an unexpected present for her, and I’m glad to be able to make the offer, because it allows me to give as well as take, something reporters can’t often do. It’s also a good way to win trust.” 
 
“I want to make sure that if she knows about Annie, she tells me before I tell her, so that I capture her spontaneous memory first.”
 

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