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.
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
The Georgia Genealogical Society is hosting an all-day seminar on September 16, 2017 in Marietta, Georgia. I’m the invited speaker–and you’re invited, too! Come learn cutting-edge skills and tools you can start using in your family history research immediately. Register online until September 12, 2017. You can book me for your genealogy event here.
If you can make it to Marietta, Georgia on Saturday, September 16, I hope you’ll join me for an all-day seminar sponsored by the Georgia Genealogical Society. The event organizers have chosen a well-rounded set of classes I’m excited to teach! You’ll get cutting-edge tips on online search strategies, an in-depth newspaper research class, a unique and fun approach to working a “genealogical cold case,” and inspiring, attention-getting ideas to share your family history discoveries with your relatives.
Georgia Genealogical Society Seminar Details
What: All-Day Seminar with Lisa Louise Cooke
Where: First Presbyterian Church, 189 Church St., Marietta, GA
When: Saturday, September 16, 2017, 9:45 am – 4:15 pm (doors open at 9:15 am for registration)
Hosted by: Georgia Genealogical Society; co-sponsored by Cobb County Genealogical Society
Registration: Register online via PayPal by midnight on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, to get the regular event price and the class handouts.
And boy oh boy are we going to dig into genealogy!:
10:15 am: Google Books: The Tool You Should Use Every Day! Over 25 million digitized and searchable free books are at your fingertips with Google Books. Learn how to make the most of this goldmine chock full of historical data. (This is a brand new class in 2017 and was a BIG hit at Rootstech,)
11:30: Get the Scoop on your Ancestors with Newspapers. Yearning to “read all about it?” Newspapers are a fantastic source of research leads, information and historical context for your family history. Learn the specialized approach that is required to achieve success in locating the news on your ancestors. Includes 3 Cool Tech Tools that will get you started.
(12:30-2:00 pm: Lunch is on your own)
2:00 pm: How to Reopen and Work a Genealogy Cold Case. Become a genealogical detective in this vital session. You’ll learn to track ancestors like a criminal cold case detective, sniffing out holes in your research and getting missing information on the record with cutting edge technology.
3:15 pm: Inspiring Ways to Capture the Interest of Non-Genealogists. If you are researching your family tree but haven’t shared it with your family in a way that sparks their interest, then you are only experiencing half of the joy of genealogy! And if your descendants don’t grasp the importance of their heritage, your hard work may tragically find it’s way to the city dump when you are gone. Don’t just collect your family history and store it away in binders and files! Learn how creative displays and crafts can capture the imagination of your non-historian friends and relatives, while honoring your ancestors. These projects are guaranteed to inspire your family to ask you to tell them more about the family tree!
Click here for more about the event and to register.
4 More Ways to Learn New Genealogy Skills
If you can’t be in Marietta (darn!) on September 16, check out these free options for learning with me and the rest of my team here at Genealogy Gems:
- Subscribe to my free weekly e-newsletter. You’ll get my free Google research e-book as a thank you gift. Simply enter your email address into this box, and I’ll deliver news, how-tos and stories from my blog, including my popular weekly update of new genealogy records online.
- Listen to the free Genealogy Gems podcast. My flagship audio show has been delivering in-depth stories, research strategies, tech tips and more for more than 10 years–with more than 2 million times worldwide. Why not listen for yourself?
- Subscribe to my YouTube channel. Watch, learn and be inspired with the many genealogy how-to videos I’ve shared on my YouTube channel.
Thanks for sharing this event invitation with your friends. I hope to meet you in Marietta, on social media or as a new listener or email subscriber!
NGS 2016 live streaming options have expanded this year–and include FREE Genealogy Gems classes you can watch on your mobile device wherever you are.
Can’t make it to NGS 2016? You’re not the only one! You can still join the fun, though–and for free. Lisa Louise Cooke will be live-streaming several lectures from the Genealogy Gems booth “theater” in the Exhibit Hall at NGS from May 4-7, 2016.
Streaming classes are scheduled as follows (so far–more may be added). The time zone for the conference is Eastern standard.
Wednesday, May 4:
9:45 am: Diahan Southard, 3 Reasons to Test Your DNA
10:15 am: Diahan Southard, AncestryDNA Help
1:15 pm: Lisa Louise Cooke, Beginner Evernote
1:45 pm: Lisa Louise Cooke, Advanced Evernote
Thursday, May 5:
12:45 pm: Lisa Louise Cooke, 3 Cool Tools for Newspapers
1:45 pm: Diahan Southard, FTDNA’s Family Finder Help
Friday, May 6:
1:15 pm: Lisa Louise Cooke, Create Google Earth Map Overlays
Saturday, May 7:
12:15 pm: Diahan Southard, Genetic buy medicine online philippines Genealogy & Health
1:45 pm: Lisa Louise Cooke: Genealogy Protection with Cloud Backup
How to watch the free NGS 2016 live streaming sessions from Genealogy Gems
Lisa will stream again through the free Periscope app, which she used for RootsTech 2016. Get the Periscope app in Apple’s App Store or Google Play, sign up for a free account, and follow Lisa Louise Cooke to tune in. Sign up for notifications in Periscope, and your phone will “ping” when she starts streaming.
Click here for the full list of NGS 2016 free Genealogy Gems booth classes, being taught on-site by Lisa Louise Cooke and Diahan Southard from Genealogy Gems and their partners from Family Tree Magazine. More streaming sessions may be added. Be sure to like and follow the Genealogy Gems Facebook page for last-minute additions!
FREE: Watch Classes that Streamed Live from RootsTech 2016