A Look at New DNA Tools — and an Announcement

RootsTech once again was the place for genealogy companies to make major announcements. Here are a few that you should know about (including one of my own!)

New DNA Tools and An Announcement


Generations Cafe Podcast, Episode 22

You can listen to this episode by clicking the play button below. (You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and most other podcast apps.)
Length: 16 minutes.

AncestryDNA's ThruLines

ThruLines are a new hinting system for AncestryDNA. It takes your genetic matches and shows how your trees overlap. The hint comes in when someone else’s tree goes back a generation further than yours. It shows you that possible ancestor. 

To get ThruLines, you need to have taken an AncestryDNA test and attached it to a tree that is either public or private but searchable. That tree also needs to go back 3-4 generations from the person taking the test

Important to note: just because there is a “potential ancestor” listed there, that doesn’t mean that it’s right. That information was generated from your matches’ trees, so it could be wrong. Use the information as a hint. 

The maiden name of my 3rd-great-grandmother is currently unknown to me. I’ve seen some people list her as Eunice Tingley, but I’ve never seen proof. (Considering that my Eunice is married to John Johnson, I need to be careful!) But in looking at the ThruLines, I can see others with the Tingley surname in their lines. That tells me that I should be looking more closely at that as a possibility. I'm not going to add Tingley as Eunice's maiden name or Ebenezer as her father without further research, but it does give me a place to start. 

AncestryDNA ThruLines

Screenshot showing my ThruLines to Ebenezer Tingley.

Blaine Bettinger has also noted that ThruLines are great for identifying people who would be good candidates for Y-DNA or mtDNA testing if that’s something that you need. 

ThruLines is still in beta, meaning that the features and the layout will be changing and you might experience a little bit of bugginess. But it is definitely worth exploring.

Ancestry's MyTreeTags

MyTreeTags are a way of labeling or tagging people in your family tree so that you can find them more easily. 

MyTreeTags is also in beta. Unlike ThruLines, though, you have to opt in to get these. When you log into Ancestry, click on Extras and then “Ancestry Lab” and you can enable MyTreeTags.

There are some predefined tags, such as “actively researching,” “verified,” and “hypothesis.”

You can also create your own custom tags. There is a military tag, but maybe you want to tag specifically all of the Civil War veterans in your tree. Perhaps you want to tag all of the Quakers or all of the storeowners.

The tags are a useful way of searching for groups of people that have something in common or to flag someone special. Let’s say you’re like me and you have several people with the same name in your tree. Sometimes it isn’t the easiest to see which one is your ancestor. Add a tag “direct ancestor” and you’ll be able to tell at a glance.

This should also help with photo hints. You no longer have to add a picture of the Quaker Oats guy as the profile picture for your Quaker ancestors. Nor do you need to upload a graphic that says “DNA verified.” Using the tags is cleaner and ultimately more useful. 

MyHeritage's "The Theory of Family Relativity"

MyHeritage announced its new DNA tool called “The Theory of Family Relativity.” Personally, I love the name since it includes the word “theory!"

The Theories are based not only on DNA matches and attached family trees, but also on the historical records that those profiles have.

Not all of your MyHeritage DNA matches will have a theory. This could be due to no tree attached or insufficient matching.

I’m impressed with how there are sometimes multiple theories for how you and a match are actually related. One of my matches actually has 5 different theories.

One thing to remember is that your results need to be attached to a tree, so if you’re an adoptee trying to identify your biological family, it isn’t going to magically give you those answers.

MyHeritage's Theory of Family Relativity

Screenshot showing one of a Theory of Family Relativity between one of my genetic matches and me.

MyHeritage's AutoClusters

MyHeritage has another new DNA tool that could help not only adoptees but anyone trying to sort through their DNA matches and that’s something called AutoClusters.

It’s a way of grouping together your genetic matches. There have been all kinds of workarounds to do this before, usually involving spreadsheets to try to see where there is overlap in the trees.

With AutoClusters, you request the report to be generated, which can take a few minutes to several hours. You’ll get the report via email. You’ll get three versions of the report. The one I like is the HTML version that shows you a graphic with the clusters of your genetic matches. You still need to go into their trees to see where they overlap is, but having this tool is such a time saver.

AutoClusters work on both DNA results from a MyHeritage DNA test as well as the results from other tests that you’ve uploaded to MyHeritage.

I’m using AutoClusters right now on the results for an adoptee that I’m helping. It is such a time saver to see the clusters and then be able to focus on one cluster at a time to see where their trees overlap. It has been invaluable in helping me tackle all of the data. 

MyHeritage AutoClusters

Screenshot of MyHeritage AutoClusters.

MyHeritage is also expanding their DNA Quest initiative, adding 5000 more DNA kits to adoptees and others who are trying to reconnect with their biological families.  

A New Way to Learn: Announcing Generations Cafe Circle

Generations Cafe Circle Membership

I have my own announcement that I made at RootsTech. I have started a new program called Generations Cafe Circle, which is a membership site devoted to helping you build a strong foundation in your genealogy research.

Inside the Generations Cafe Circle, you’ll find video classes, resource guides, and exercises to help you build that foundation and also take action on what you’ve learned.

One of the challenges that I’ve seen with online learning is that there often isn’t interaction with the instructor. Have you ever watched a webinar and then two weeks later have a question? How do you interact with the instructor or the other students?

I’ve build that into Generations Cafe Circle. It isn’t just videos. There’s a group where you can interact with me, along with other experts that I’ll be bringing in, as well as your fellow students. There’s also a monthly Q&A session where you can go even deeper into your research questions.

Generations Cafe Circle is structured learning at an affordable price. Those who join before April 9, 2019 will get a special discounted rate.

You can join monthly or annually and there is a no risk 30-day money back guarantee.

Get all of the details and sign up at AmyJohnsonCrow.com/circle.

New DNA Tools for Your Genealogy Research
Posted: March 15, 2019.

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  • I have found the Thrulines feature to be pretty accurate and made connections to some matches where their tree wasn’t very detailed so I was (???) . I love the the Tree tags! I have found it useful using the direct ancestor tags and DNA connection tags to trace the matches line up to the Common DNA match. Also, I’m using the custom tags to put DNA matches from other testings companies that haven’t tested on Ancestry or not an Ancestry match, but a Y-DNA match tag. (Yeah!). My Crow /Crowe family has multiple Y-DNA lines that marrying into into my direct paternal line’s family. When I see a Crowe or a Crow, I go “Which Crow family is it?”. I had the “New & Improved DNA” feature from the Ancestry Lab on for a few days. I like the ability to color code matches, but it seem like it gave me only 1 page ( not a full one as the original system) of matches not the 1000+ pages of matches. Odd? I turned it off.

  • These announcements are very exciting, Amy! And congratulations on developing Generations Cafe Circle.