Quantifying Tree Availability for My AncestryDNA Matches

Last week, AncestryDNA announced that their database has reached 3 million people, and that they had sold 1.4 million kits on top of that in the last 3 months of 2016.  See “Ancestry Sets AncestryDNA Sales Record Over Holiday Period and Fourth Quarter” for more information.

This means that by summer or fall of 2017, the database is likely to reach 5 million people.

Many people have noted that many of these new test-takers will undoubtedly not have trees. That’s true, unfortunately, although it is a challenge rather than an absolute roadblock. It is an opportunity for experienced genealogists to engage new genealogists and encourage and help them. Indeed, many of them will never add a tree, and that will be very, very frustrating. But at least a small fraction of those will have a good reason for not doing so. The majority without trees will likely either not know how to do it, or may only be interested in ethnicity.

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Adoptee Testing: A Study

Today, Judy Russell at The Legal Genealogist published “DNA testing for adoptees: 2017,” an EXCELLENT primer for adoptees or foundlings looking to use DNA to find their biological family. If you’ve tested your DNA and spent time with your results, it is likely that you’ve encountered an adoptee looking for information. If you are an adoptee, Judy’s post is a MUST read, as it contains a NEW testing plan due to a new “pond to fish in,” a genealogy company offering autosomal DNA testing for the first time in 2016. Here’s the link, just be sure to come back after you’re done reading: “DNA testing for adoptees: 2017.”

The American Adoption Congress

Welcome back!

In April, I will be an invited keynote speaker at the 38th Annual American Adoption Congress International Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. In that keynote, I want to provide adoptees with information about how DNA can help them (for many this will undoubtedly be their first introduction to the power of DNA). However, I also wanted to share the experience of adoptees who test in the databases today. How often do they find biological family? What are their closest matches? And so much more.

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The Danger of Distant Matches

We know that small segments shared between two individuals can be problematic (see Small Matching Segments – Friend or Foe?), whether the two individuals are closely related or distantly related (or not related at all, as we’ll see). I call small segments (which I usually classify as 5 cM or less) as POISON because it is currently impossible to decipher between which are real segments and which are not.

In the following analysis, I use the wonderful new Match-O-Match tool at DNAGedcom to compare my and my parents’ match lists from AncestryDNA. The Match-O-Match tool is a powerful spreadsheet analysis tool developed by Don Worth. It is available to DNAGedcom subscribers as part of the DNAGedcom Client. For more, see page 10 of the PDF HERE. Thank you Don for this great new tool!

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Clustering Shared Matches

Given the lack of a chromosome browser, the Shared Matches tool at AncestryDNA is one of the most powerful tools available to genealogists. Once you have a list of genetic cousins at AncestryDNA, you can mine the Shared Matches with each of those cousins, looking for patterns of shared ancestry among the shared matches.

This works better if you have a well-researched tree and several tested relatives on multiple different sides/branches of the family.

PLEASE. I know I say this a thousand times in the post and the caveats at the end, but please use caution with this. I’m posting this because I found it useful, and I would like to get feedback on what others are doing in this area, particularly with regard to automation of this process. This is dangerous, so use caution!

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