Ancestry.com announced a great new tool at Rootstech called ThruLines. It finds connections to your DNA matches by looking through other people’s trees for you. This replaces DNA circles by displaying the descendants of your ancestors in a more understandable format. Even if you have a private tree, you will get these ThruLines as long as your tree is set to searchable. Here is what the new DNA overview page looks like:
ThruLines is fabulous but a little buggy. I was constantly getting page not found apparently due to a cookie problem and was wondering if I would ever finish this post! A trick suggested in Blaine’s DNA tools group on FaceBook solved this for me. I now open the ThruLines page as a private or incognito page by using the right click menu in Firefox or Chrome.
The ThruLines page shows images of each of your ancestors with whom you share DNA matches, ordered by most recent first. Since I have tested my brother and many first, second, and third cousins, there were no surprises in the first four lines (16 ancestors) but once I got back to my great great grandparents I found a number of new cousins that I had not found before on my Norwegian side: descendants of my Wold great grandparents and my Halling 3rd grandparents.
One of the nice things is that Ancestry can see past the private parts of trees to find the connections. It shows you living people as boxes marked private but can still connect them back to the common ancestors. It also indicates whose tree the information came from, which is helpful when you know there is an error since you can click on the tree name to see it and contact that person to request that they fix it.
I was about to complain that I would prefer to see these ThruLines theories start from my DNA matches rather than my ancestors when I discovered that if I joined the Beta test of the new matches page they do exactly that, among many other wonderful new features.
To join the Beta test click the Ancestry Lab item under Extras in the top menu and then you will see the following page where you can enable either or both of the two new Beta features:
Next I went to my new improved match page used the filter at the top to see only matches with hints. I discovered so many new ones that it will take me weeks to go through them all!
Here is a section of my new Beta match page with predicted 4th cousins. Note that one of the trees is private but there is still an ancestor hint that I will be able to see. Another tree has only 7 people but ThruLines found the relationship. It may have helped that he was actually in my own tree.
Clicking on the match name or the ancestor hint takes you to a whole new page of information shown below. Click on the tree icon and number of people to get to the old match page with the pedigree tree and surname frequencies. Notice that the Beta list of matches shows you the notes and lets you tag your matches using any of 24 colors right on this page (warning, creating a new group has the bug that the right side scrollbar vanishes, just refresh your page to fix that).
From the new match page, click on a common ancestor to see how Ancestry thinks you are related. It will now figure out the relationship even when the common ancestor is not in both trees. Here is the display of the relationship to my match Ida who has a private tree. Since her father was in my tree, the relationship was easy for Ancestry to find. Note that the gray boxes with arrows can be clicked to show or collapse the pathways.
I recommend you watch this video from RootsTech with Crista Cowan, the barefoot genealogist, describing all these features in detail https://www.rootstech.org/video/what-you-dont-know-about-ancestry-crista-cowan