Tag Archive | AncestryDNA

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: https://www.ancestry.co.uk/cs/dna-help/ethnicity/faq

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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An Awesome Ancestry Add-on

One thing I have always wanted when looking at my ancestry DNA matches was to list just the unstarred matches or matches that I have identified as being on a specific line. Well there is a new add-on for chrome called MedBetterDNA that will do that for you now, among other great features. Thank you Blaine for mentioning it in your Genetic Genalogy Tips and Techniques Facebook group today.

Another thing I love from this add-on is that it displays the notes you have made for this match directly on the match page so you no longer have to click each little notepad. Here is what my brother’s page looks like now:

Notice the little multi-colored people icons next to the green leaves? That is from another chrome add on called the AncestryDNA helper and a mouse-over on those icons shows the DNA relatives in common, but that is another blog post not yet written.
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DNA makes a Merry Christmas

Yesterday was a very very happy day. Thanks to DNA testing, an 82 year old man who thought he had no kids, now has two wonderful adult children plus grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Merry Christmas Billy (my pseudonym for him)! Here is the story.

An accomplished and successful Florida business woman, let’s call her Cheryl, discovered at her father’s funeral that he was not her biological dad. His relatives told her and were not particularly nice about it. Cheryl knew that her dad, let’s call him Larry, had married her mom when she was three months along, but Cheryl had not known that Larry had a paternity test done and knew that she was not his child. He loved her mom very much, so chose to love and cherish Cheryl as his daughter. They were always quite close.

Her mother was long gone and could not be asked. In disbelief, Cheryl took the Ancestry DNA test to confirm or deny this tale. She also got her half brother, her mother’s son from an earlier marriage, to test. That way she could separate out the matches on her mother’s side from those from her Dad’s line.

Her DNA results had no matches to anyone in Larry’s family, which disappointed her, even though it was not a surprise now. However she found what looked to be a half brother, let’s call him Joe, an adoptee born and raised in Australia. Her other paternal side matches, two second cousins, and several third cousins, all had roots in a small town along the Mississippi River. Surprisingly. the second cousins had no ancestors in common with any of the others. So Cheryl contacted me for help back in early October.

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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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