Category Archives: basics

Organizing my AncestryDNA matches

One of my ‘resolutions’ for 2018 was to come up with a better process for me to manage my AncestryDNA matches.  We’re halfway through the year, so I thought I’d share my progress.

My new strategy depends on the Notes option in AncestryDNA and a cool Chrome extension called MedBetterDNA. I established three baseline steps (do it once and I’m done!) and two recurring steps.

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Why the Y?

Sometimes people ask me: can Y-DNA testing help my genealogy? (Only men have the Y chromosome, but if you’re female and can test a brother or male paternal cousin, that will work.) If you are looking for an ancestor within the last 300-400 years on your direct paternal line (your father’s father’s father, etc.), this topic is for you.

The test is offered by FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA). First, you’ll want a basic intro to Y-DNA. If you want to know what a haplogroup is, or the difference between a SNP and a STR, the ISOGG wiki on Y-DNA is always a great place to start. You’ll find an overview of Y-DNA and links to many helpful articles.

Here I am going to focus on what I think is the single most valuable aspect of your Y-DNA results for brick walls or questions in a genealogical time frame. And that is:

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Is it a maternal or paternal DNA match?

One of the first things we ask about a new DNA match is this: is this a match on Mom’s side, or Dad’s?
 
We all have two copies of each autosome (i.e. chromosome 1 through chromosome 22): one copy in each pair comes from Mom and one from Dad. Unfortunately, the testing company can’t tell by looking at our DNA if a segment that matches someone else is on our maternal copy of that chromosome, or our paternal copy.
 
We need to compare our DNA to known relatives who have tested; then we can begin to figure out how our new matches fit in our family trees.
 
If you’ve had both of your parents take an autosomal DNA test at the company where you and your new cousin match, it’s easy to tell maternal or paternal. But what if you don’t have DNA tests for both parents?
 
GEDmatch.com has some tools to help us.

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Managing multiple kits – and the new AncestryDNA change

 

There has been lots of brouhaha in the genetic genealogy community this week! AncestryDNA just announced some dramatic changes coming July 18th for people who want to manage multiple kits. In a nutshell, AncestryDNA kits that are registered on that date or later must have their own unique Ancestry account, with its own unique email. This can be a free account, and we can still manage those other kits, but it involves a bit more effort, especially initially.

I have some relevant links that I’d like to share here, in two sets. Before we think about the AncestryDNA policy change, we need to think about some implications of managing other people’s DNA results in general. So that’s the first set. And then we can learn more about the specific impact of Ancestry’s announcement and how to deal with those changes—for that, see the second set of links.

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