A Practical Guide to Finding your Family using Ancestry DNA
Working with DNA is like a jigsaw puzzle. If you were building a jigsaw of a beautiful tropical beach you would need a methodical approach.
Follow the links within each section for further guidance, or
view all the free DNA resources here.
Divide your Matches into Groups
- Add notes to help you remember what you’ve discovered about each match.
- Identify matches from your known family to separate Maternal/Paternal matches (if possible).
- Identify groups of Shared Matches and create/apply Ancestry Colour Coded Groups – see here.
Look for patterns within each Shared Match Group
- Try to find “Significant Ancestors” (ancestors who appear in several trees within a group).
- People who are your matches’ ancestors they are likely to be your ancestors too – or should lead you in the direction of your Direct Line Ancestors.
- If you can’t find Significant Ancestors, look for other patterns – eg, surnames or locations.
Build your Research Tree
- Recreate the trees of your matches within your Research Tree. Use your Research Tree to work out how your matches are related to each other and who they share as common ancestors.
- See here for instructions on creating Floating Branches and here for some tips and tricks on managing your Research Tree.
- If you have matches who do not have a tree (or have a very small tree), build it for them. See here for ways to work out who your matches are, so you can research their family history.
- If you’ve copied a match’s tree and it doesn’t make sense there could be errors in the tree you’ve built/copied, or perhaps the paper records are concealing an adoption or misattributed parent(s).
Connect the Floating Branches
- In a simple world, someone from one Shared Match Group would marry someone from another. One of their children would go on to marry someone from another group and “all” you need to do is move through the generations, connecting the Floating Branches until you reach your parents.
- Making the final connection can be the hardest step – getting stuck at the “which brother is my Father?” stage is not unusual. You may need to persuade relatives to test to reach a conclusion.
You can view/save a pdf of this post here:
If you are not confident with computers, use email infrequently and are still finding your way around Ancestry, there’s an awful lot to get to grips with in the DNA testing process – and that’s before you try to make sense of the results! Having now spent quite a while helping Ancestry users with their DNA testing, I’ve realised that there are a number of problems and/or misunderstandings that occur fairly regularly.
Today’s information sheet is about Navigating Ancestry’s DNA Testing Process – the ins and outs of how the system works, the order in which things are meant to happen and how you can plan ahead to try and ensure everything goes smoothly.
If things do go wrong, most mistakes can be corrected. At worst you are likely to have to start from the beginning with a replacement kit – and Ancestry are generally very good about supplying free replacements if that becomes necessary. But, when you’re pacing the floor, waiting eagerly for results, starting afresh can be a very frustrating experience!
The final page of the guide is a form designed to record all the details about a DNA test, giving an easy reference sheet for usernames, passwords, emails and progression through Ancestry’s testing system.
Click here to see all the information sheets currently available.
Today is DNA Day which seemed a good day to launch my new blog and Facebook page about discovering your DNA family.
It is almost two years since I took my first test, hoping that it might help me find out about my Grandfather. I wanted to share the knowledge and techniques that I’ve gained over the past two years and make DNA testing something that helps you in your family history research – rather than something that makes you want to throw your laptop across the room in frustration!
Despite my love of computers, I still prefer learning by reading printed words on a piece of paper. I decided that as well as general blog posts, I would create information sheets in a format that could either be read on-screen or downloaded/printed and digested at your leisure. Hopefully, over time, they will build into a useful reference library.
Today’s information sheet is for those of you who are thinking about taking a DNA test, especially as many of the testing companies have discounted kits for sale at the moment. How can testing help? How much will it cost? Where can I buy a test? Which test should I buy? What else should I consider?
Click to read/download: How can DNA Testing help me?