Ancestry’s new DNA feature: ThruLines 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.

Right mouse clicking on ViewDNA matches brings up a menu where you can request a private window

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 found a whole slew of new Halling cousins decended from my great grandmother’s sister Nikolena

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.

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Finally, Ancestry’s New Ethnicity Estimates

Today we all got an email from Ancestry announcing new ethnicity reports for everyone. Adding five times the reference populations plus a better algorithm that can often indicate the modern countries. This time I really do have the new ancestry composition estimates!
Updates Available box
Naturally I immediately went and looked. Then I messaged and emailed all my tested cousins to accept the new update. When you log in to Ancestry and click on DNA in the top menu you get a page with three panels. Click on the panel to the left called “DNA story” to go to a page with a world map and the Updates Available box on the upper right.

Click the green button that says View your Updated Estimate in that box. Next you have to answer a few questions about your expectations and your thoughts on the previous ethnicity. I am afraid I did not understand that below each was a slider which I could move to indicate the level of accuracy, so until the last one that I answered, I left it alone. I wonder how many others will make that error.

The first time on your new ethnicity page, you will see a panel on the right showing how your estimates have changed. Here is mine. I was sad to say goodbye to that unlikely 1% Polynesian!

My father was Norwegian American with one fourth grandad (2% of his DNA?) who was German. My mother was born in Munich to a Jewish father and Bavarian Catholic mother. So how does that play out in these new estimates? Could the Swedish be a remnant from the 30 years war where Swedish soldiers rampaged through Bavaria? Actually I think my Norwegian dad had a fifth grandparent who was Swedish but that would hardly show either.

Here is my brother’s  page showing the new estimates with the changes:

I am still 29% Jewish but my brother is down to 20% from 22%. Our maternal grandad was Jewish and I randomly got more of his DNA than my grandmother’s. When a 2nd cousin on our maternal grandmother’s side tested, my brother did indeed share a third again as much DNA with her as I did (Click here for that post)

By the way you can get back to the page showing the changes together with the new estimates by clicking on the small blue Updates at the top of your ethnicity estimate then the View Previous Estimate at the bottom of the Ethnicity box followed by Compare these results to your most recent AncestryDNA estimate on the next page.

Now to look at some more interesting ethnic makeups from my cousins and people I have helped.
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Ancestry’s Updated Ethnicity Reports

UPDATE 3-SEP-2018: My apologies, my account and my cousins do NOT have the latest updates. Since they are more recent and prettier than the last time I looked, I had made that false assumption. Thanks to the members of the Ancestry DNA Matching Facebook group for showing me what the real update looks like.

To see what your version is click on the “up to date” or the “i” in a circle on top of your ethnicity results. Then it will show you a box that tells you what version you have. If you only have 3000 reference samples, then, like me, you do not have the very latest.

I look forward to writing a new post whenever I finally get those changed reports! Meanwhile this post may still be of some interest…


Original post was:

Over the summer Ancestry DNA has been rolling out their new ethnicity estimates and they have finally arrived in my account.

My brother’s ethnicity has not changed, it just has more features.

These changes have been made for two reasons. First of all, Ancestry has lots more data; they have added 13,000 new samples to an original group of 3,000 reference populations.* Secondly they have changed their algorithm to look at runs of DNA rather than just single points (23andme uses this technique as well). You can read their full explanation here:

The predictions for my brother, as shown above, have not changed (click here for my previous article on his ethnicity). He is still 62% Scandinavian (our Dad is Norwegian American) and 22% Jewish (Mom’s dad was German Jewish). While the Bavarian from Mom’s mother is still showing as Scandinavian, Europe South (this was Italy/Greece), and West European. The English comes from Dad according to various other sites where he was tested. This is discussed in my article Norwegian or English? where I suggest that it is the English who have some Norwegian.

The new presentation is prettier and it has some very accurate subcategories. Yes all our Norwegian ancestors are from the circled areas, Western and Southern Norway.

and my ancestors ended up in the city of Brooklyn, NY

One thing I find very enjoyable are the descriptions of the subgroups and migration groups. Also of interest is the story they tell you when you click on one of your groups and a date like 1875 as above.


My ancestry is different from my brother’s but not wildly so. I have more Jewish (German Jewish so within the predicted subgroup), less Scandinavian, and a few interesting bits of noise like Polynesian. I remember one ethnicity estimate somewhere which claimed I had 1% Amerind. I like to think there is a sprinkling of Sami that creates that blip.

I have examples from a wide variety of people thanks to the many adoptees and relatives that I have helped. By the way, my perfect cousin (who I often blog about) is still 100% Scandinavian with the expected subpopulations of South and East Norway.

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How to get your ancestry match to respond

Most of the time when you send a message to a DNA match at ancestry you get no response. I used to assume that their membership had lapsed or that they had not logged in and seen their messages, but it turns out, that may not be the reason at all.

The real reason is that many people are using the Ancestry App on ipads, tablets, or smartphones and the Ancestry App does not show your messages. I was shocked when I finally got this response today from a match.

The last date that someone has logged in shows on the match page and I had seen that this person was logging in regularly, but it was from their tablet! So everyone who uses the app please complain to customer service at Ancestry.

So how did I get his attention? I left a comment on an ancestor on his tree with a link to the find-a-grave entry! The next day I got the message above. Leaving a comment always generates an email which finally gets their attention.

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Genetic Communities at Ancestry are live‘s genetic communities are a good way to understand your family’s journey for the last few hundred years. Unlike the ancestry composition percentages, these communities are more recent and include a write up of the history of each group starting in 1700.

Many of my favorite bloggers posted about this yesterday. If you want to understand something about the science which combines the use of trees plus good sized matching segments, I recommend Leah Larkin’s analysis of‘s white paper here –

Since I frequently work with adoptees, I am really hoping this helps with that analysis. I am finding that people with deep American roots have far more communities than those of us with recent immigrant ancestors. The adoptee I am currently working with has six communities! Shown above.

He knows his mother’s father and that is the Deep South community. I suspect that the New Jersey and. Pennsylvania groups are from his Dad, based on other matches at Family Tree DNA. I will report back if this new feature helps for his case.

The reason this may be helpful with adoptees is the ability  to separate matches into the different communities. Clicking on a specific community name gets you to a page with a map for that group and its history stories. There is an icon called Connection at the top left of the page (my red arrow in the image example to the left). Clicking it takes you to a page with information about your connections.


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