ancestry.com DNA Enhancements Announced At RootsTech

Last week at RootsTech, ancestry.com unveiled three new features for users.  The details of their announcement of the features is here.  The feature I have been exploring is the Common Ancestors feature for DNA matches.  The directions for enabling these new features are found in the ancestry announcement here.  Remember, these features are in beta, which means they are not perfect (and may never be), and issues or errors may (will) happen.

INew DNA Options

I have been working through my DNA matches on ancestry and before the introduction of this new feature I had identified how I was related to 279 matches.  The new common ancestors filter (green leaf, in circled in blue box above), announced last week at RootsTech, identified an additional 215 new DNA matches for me.  That is 215 matches over and above the 279 matches I had already identified!

So far I have worked through  50 of the matches.  Are they all perfect?  No, are there a couple of matches that I’m not sure work, or the suggested path to relationship seems wrong.  Not as many as I expected, 4 out of 50, which isn’t too bad.  I also have 2 matches, one at 101 cM and one at 93cM where ancestry identified a match that I didn’t (common ancestor is 6th great grandparents), but missed the match where we are also 3rd cousins, 1 time removed.

New DNA Groups

The other feature ancestry.com introduced as part of the new DNA matches is the ability to attach colored dots (2nd blue box above on the right) to a person.  You can define a maximum of 24 groups.  I tried one scheme and ditched it, in favor of my current scheme. My scheme is:

  1. Star = identified/confirmed lineage
  2. A dark pink dot = mom’s side of the family (Barbara)
  3. A dark blue dot = dad’s side of the family (Marvin)
  4. Pinks, reds and oranges = primary surnames on my mom’s side of the family (Smeltzer, Cribbs, Cunningham, Faith, Gibson, …)
  5. Blues, greens and yellows = primary surnames on my dad’s side of the family (Williams, Moorhouse, Hayes, McGranahan, Kenley, Charlesworth,  …)

Forgot what a dot represents?  No problem, the list shows you the names associated with the color, and if you hover the cursor over the color it tells you the group name!

Are these new features perfect?  No, but it is certainly helping me more quickly identify how I am related to a DNA match, and isn’t that the goal?

 

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It’s Institute Registration Time

During registration for GRIP last week (some courses still have seats), I was in Washington, DC with several friends whom I met the prior summer at GenFed (1 week institute on NARA holdings).  We scheduled a group research trip to Washington, DC as we all wanted to research at Archives 1 (DC), Archives 2 (College Park, MD), Library of Congress and DAR.  We had a great time each night and had the opportunity to brainstorm and strategized approaches to solve each others brick walls.

People are amazed that I would attend an institute.  Questions frequently asked include:

  • How can there be much information for one topic?
  • Don’t you get tired of the same topic?
  • It’s not like you get to socialize with the instructors ..
  • Isn’t that super expensive

Until you are an expert, and maybe not even then (advances in DNA research), it is almost impossible to not learn.  If the topic is key to our research, our understanding of our family, and has the potential to give us the key to our brick wall, is there any one of us who would be tired of the topic?

Socialize with your instructors?  You have 5 or 6 days to speak to your instructor, including at meal times!  When you leave, they will still know who you are, and unless you send hundreds of emails, they will probably still talk to you after the class is over 🙂

That leaves us with cost.  The cost component is a sad reality that most of us have to deal with, and with many institutes costs include: the course, travel, hotel and food.  Some institutes, like GRIP,  may not be as expensive as you think.  Early bird tuition is $460 and your room & food is an additional $310 (that is room and food).  It is a college dorm room and it is college food; not 5 star food but not a 1 star either.  You can always opt to stay in a hotel and do your own thing for meals.  That leaves your flight, bus or cost of gas to drive to Pittsburgh.  That is $770 (plus flight/bus/gas) for a week to learn new research skills and meet new people.

The best thing about an institute?  Making friends who happen to love the same hobby that you do.  Even better, that group who were in DC researching together (plus one who couldn’t make it)?  Five will be in the From Confusion to Conclusion: How to Write Proof Arguments  and two of us will be in Fundamentals of Forensic Genealogy in Pittsburgh this summer!

 

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My Map View: County Maps

In My Map View from a United States map, you can get a state-wide map, one that shows the county boundaries, and the individual counties your family lived in!  Our starting navigational point is a map of California that we reached from the World map by clicking on the United States, and then clicking on California.  Looking at the map itself, we see the counties where my family resided, below the map is the list of the counties my family resided in, and to the right is the list of family members who lived in California!

May Of My Family In California

What happens if I click on San Diego county in the map (or click on the link in the chart)?  The map itself remains unchanged. However, the list of locations in the chart below the map has changed.  Instead of the counties family resided, the chart now contains the list of specific locations I have identified in San Diego County, Ca.  In addition, the list of family members has changed to list only the family members who had an even in San Diego County.

My Family In San Diego County, Ca

What if I want to see the list of the 5 people who were in El Cajon, San Diego County, Ca.?  Click on the link for El Cajon, and the map stays the same, the chart of places stays the same, but the list of family members now lists the 5 people who had an event in El Cajon!

Family Members With An Event in El Cajon, Ca

How powerful from the initial World map, click on the United States, then click on California, click on San Diego County, and finally click on El Cajon.  If you are visiting the San Diego county area of California, with four quick clicks of your mouse you have the list of people who you place in a specific town in California!  Does it get any easier than that?

 

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My Map View: State Maps for The United States

In My Map View there are several ways that you can navigate to a state level map:

  1. Click on a state in a country map
  2. Click on the link for the state in the chart below the country map.

Unfortunately the only country that has state level maps (ie. county maps) is the United States.  We have been unable to locate free maps that work with our mapping software for most countries in the world.

No worries though, for countries without county maps, the functionality for the state or province is equivalent to the county maps for the United States.  Said differently, there is one less map, but the detailed links and filtering by location are still available!  I will be discussing this functionality in the next post, My Map View: States Maps for Other Countries.

When clicking on an US State in the United States Country map, a county map for the selected state, similar to the following map, will display.

California Family Map

The GenDetective screenshot above should look familiar.  The chart below the map displays a list of the counties that occur in the state-wide map. On the far right is the list of relatives that are associated with locations color coded in the map.  To get additional information about any county, click on the county in the map or on the link in the chart!

In our next post we will explore the State Maps for Countries without individual state maps (county boundaries) .. aka not the United States and the final post in this series will discuss what happens when you click on a specific county in an US state map!

 

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My Map View: State Maps for Other Countries

In My Map View there are several ways that you can navigate to a state level map.  Unfortunately the only country that has state level maps (displays county maps) is the United States.  We have been unable to locate free maps that work with our mapping software for most countries in the world.

No worries though, for countries without county maps, the functionality for the state or province is equivalent to the county maps for the United States.  Said differently, there is one less map, but the detailed links and filtering by location are still available!  Lets look at a country map of Germany.

Our starting navigational point is a map of Germany.

In the above map, with the list of States below the map and on the right the list of all family members with an event in Germany, I clicked on Baden-Wurttemberg in the map.  The map below appeared, unchanged.  Look closely at the chart below the map.  Instead of the list of States as above, the list below changed to the individual locations inside Baden-Wurttemberg.  I further clicked on the link for the town of Baiersbronn, and the list of people on the right side changed to only include the 8 people who had an event in Baiersbronn!

Map of My Family in Germany

To see the list of people who were in Bronnweiler, click on the link for Bronnweiler, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, and the list of people on the right side of the screen will change.  How powerful from the initial World map, click on Germany, then click on Baden-Wurttemberg, and finally click on Bronnweiler.  If you are visiting Bronnweiler area in Germany, with three quick clicks of your mouse you have the list of people who you placed in a specific town in Germany!  Does it get any easier than that?

 

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My Map View: Country Maps

In My Map View you can navigate to a country map in one of four ways:

Country Navigation

  1. Click on the Flag for the country list
  2. In a World map, click on the country in the map
  3. In a Regional map, click on the country in the map (not shown)
  4. In the chart below a world or regional map, click on the country name

What do you see when you display a country graph?  Each country map displays the country along with each of the states or provinces in the country.  Each state/province where you have placed your relatives will be color coded with the number of relatives located in the state (or the number of events).  On the right side of the screen will be a list of the relatives who lived in the selected country.  The Reports available under the Reports tab (far right of screen) will change so that any report selected will reflect the country displayed in the map!

Map of My Family in the United States

What is the value of the country-wide map?  As genealogists we work with records that place our ancestors on a map.  For some countries we may be very familiar with states/provinces our family lived in, and not so familiar with others.  Many Americans learned in grade school the map of the states, and could label the states.  However, my personal grasp of say, the United Kingdom or Germany is rudimentary at best.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in the case of a map of our family, doubly so.

Germany England

Map of My Ancestors in Germany

Map of My Direct Ancestors in England

Our next post will explore what happens when you click on a state in the map or the link for a state.

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My Map View: People versus Events?

Map People or Events?

In My Map View one of the options you have for each map is the choice between mapping people or mapping events.  This option is found in the Map my family section on the left side of the screen, just under the option asking which family members to include in the chart.  Mapping people or events, what is the difference?  The chart below illustrates the difference as it is included in the map.

Situation When mapping people
When mapping events
Person is in a location 1 time, immigration port or a registration for WW1 .. 1 1
Person is in a location whole life, 8 census records, marriage, birth, death .. 1 11

So, what is the difference?  To some extent, mapping events shows the areas where your research has focused; a higher number of events per person, frequently shows a focus of research.  If you have done a significant research on or in a specific county, it will be reflected when mapping events.  Mapping the events may provide a visual cue that a research opportunity for traveling to the area to research exists.

Regardless of what you choose to map, in the chart below the map showing:

  1. Events: the number of events in the location
  2. People: the number of unique people in the location
  3. EPP: the average number of events per person (may be a reflection of focused research for people in the area)
  4. The location (country, state, county, specific town, township, cemetery..)

Information Corresponding to a Map

 

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