The We’re Related App

UPDATE: 16 AUG 2019: Ancestry has shut down support for this app. It is no longer available.

I have shown a number of fellow genealogists the We’re Related app from Ancestry on my smartphone because it is so much fun. Let’s face it, we all like being related to famous people. My latest “famous” match is my 7th cousin thrice removed, Hans Christian Andersen, which delights the writer in my soul.

This app has also figured out how I am related to a number of my Facebook friends. Of course, they are usually cousins I that found myself with genealogy or DNA and then friended. I must have connected this app to my FaceBook account when I first installed it and of course I connected it to my Ancestry account as well.

An exciting recent surprise was that We’re Related found my relationship to fellow genetic genealogist Kelly Wheaton, famed for her free online beginning genetic genealogy course. We had long wondered about a smallish DNA segment that we share on chromosome 16, which is also shared with other relatives, so expected to be real. We had assigned it to a location – Seljord, Telemark, Norway but had not figured out the ancestor.

Tree Icon

In the app, each cousin match has several icons below it (two on my phone, three on my tablet). The one with two boxes then another below them represents a family tree. Click on that icon or the person’s photo to learn more about the relationship. Although you most often share an ancestral couple, it only shows you one of them, usually the man for most of mine.


The first screen after clicking your matches photo or tree icon shows you the name of the common ancestor plus the number of people from them to you, as well as the number for your relative. There is a button to message any FaceBook friend below their photo and name. To see the actual pathway of ancestors to the common ancestor you click on the gray box with a down arrow and a number.

For Kelly, I clicked my gray 9 and saw the pathway displayed below. Some of those images, like the cat drawing (common ancestor to me?), are not even from my own tree; but the ancestors are all as I have them. My source past Jøran, my 3rd grandmother listed below, is the bygdebok for Seljord, so expected to be true, but not yet further verified in the records. However, I do have an amazingly large number of DNA matches on this line.

My path from my gg-grandma Anna to the MRCA with Kelly

Naturally, I immediately messaged Kelly and sent her the screen shots from my tablet and she verified that this was a correct pathway for her too and gave permission to use her name in this story. At the bottom of the full pathway (I cut off the image at my great great grandmother) there is a “Does this path look correct to you” and then you can click the thumbs up or thumbs down. Thumbs up!

Other relationship lines look more problematic. For example on my path to my common ancestor with Roald Dahl (another writer, yeah!!) it has the common ancestor correctly as Lauritz Johannesen Galtung but somehow names his son-in-law, preacher Anders Riber, as the next step, instead of the correct person, his daughter Anna Katarine. So I clicked the thumbs down. Next it asked if it should remove it from my list and of course I said no! Then I checked the relationship on the GENI.com website and yes click here to see how Roald Dahl is my 9th cousin once removed on a slightly more accurate version of that pathway.

Looking at my relationship to the very good looking actor Dana Carvey, I see the shared ancestor is Ola Jonsson, 1649-1704, a common name in Norway so it looks dubious. Most of the others are related via my Etne, Hordaland ancestors, on my more famous Galtung line. So I started following Dana’s side down. Yes there was a daughter named Kari but she did not marry a Tarald so a child named Taraldsen is unlikely. GENI does not find this relationship either. Thumbs down? Not yet, he is too cute.

As a genealogist, I mistook the share icon for a click to the pedigree icon. Nope, it is to let you brag about these relationships on various social media.

Click here for the We’re Related page at Ancestry that has links to the app stores.

Amotsdal in Seljord, Telemark where Kelly and my common ancestors lived, taken by cousin Karen yesterday

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50 thoughts on “The We’re Related App

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  1. You should mention that this app forces you to login via Facebook and as such give away all your friends and other personal data.

    This is a big no no for me and I guess after the scandals this year, also for many others.

    • Andreas, I do mention that but because this app is from Ancestry, not some unknown 3rd party, I do not consider it a problem.

      • Andreas speaks from a position of experience in the field.
        And Facebook already snoops on my information in all kinds of ways as shown by its mention of certain product types and people that I have not looked for via Facebook itself.
        Particularly when I go from Facebook to that other site.
        So, for me, what Andreas is saying is what I see.
        I would need Ancestry to provide assurances backed by substantial indemnities to believe that using this app is otherwise.

  2. Off topic, but we happened upon a Hans Christian Andersen parade while in Copenhaven one year. Maybe worth planning a trip around, especially if you have not been there.

  3. Your blog prompted me to use the app. I found among distant matches that I didn’t bother with, a 4th cousin match to Phil Collins the English Singer,songwriter,player & composer.
    I’ve checked out the paper trail and it is correct.

    So thank you Kitty for your blog

  4. The exercise of working out connection to someone famous – a la 6 degrees .. – is certainly a fun one, and is something I indulge in while filling in time otherwise wasted in waiting for things to happen. Many of the connections are not entirely genetic. For example, the neighbouring owner of a farm to one of my distant uncles was the grandson of the inventor of the mechanical computer.
    And a genealogical society is a great place to find connections to your ordinary cousins. I am constantly surprised by people mentioning ancestors’ surnames and regions only to have someone say “see me afterwards for more information”, which is usually code for, “I think we are cousins”.

  5. Do you need the Ancestry app on a device, then download We’re Related? How does it connect with an Ancestry account? Or does it? Thanks

    • When you open the app for the first time it will ask to connect to Facebook and to Ancestry. The ancestry app is not needed.

    • This is not “a la 6 degrees” because
      Degrees of separation can include spouses and siblings (i.e. relationship finder on wikitree tells me I am 15 degrees from King George because someone married his niece that had a great grandfather whose gggg grandnephew married my aunt).

      This is for finding cousins and as such finds direct ancestors you both share.

    • Dawn, its a phone app. Its free but you need to download to your smartphone and log in to ancestry … so in a way you get it with your results …

  6. Hans Christian Andersen is on my list also. And you are a match to a second cousin of mine….our roots are in southern Norway.

    • Yes all of us Norwegians are related… GENI.com Is a world collaborative tree with lots of Norwegians so put your family there and it will tell us the relationship

      • Most do not realize that if, your family came off the Mayflowers/ ships and is part of the colonists, all started the branches of being related, if your family was in politics, many married three or four times and started more branches . So it’s true ,we’re related. P.S. found out my own parents, are related to each other. Both families, are from the colony’s , My husbands family is also.

  7. I tried to use the app but it gets stuck when I select a tree to use. I select a tree to use, it goes to the next screen, I slide the tab to on, (i think) and then nothing happens. Save button is not highlighted, only cancel button is. Advice?

  8. Why did Ancestry discontinue the “We’re Related” app?
    Thankfully, if you have it, it will continue to function and add to it regularly. But, if you’re a newby, you’re out of luck.

  9. Because the app was only as good as the trees submitted by users. And now that Ansestry has grown so large a huge number of those trees are inaccurate with no sources. To many people just adding other peoples work to their own trees without checking if it is correct. I have had many matches but only very few turn out to be a match when doing a correct check up one line and Dow the other..

  10. I have not received any new hints in about 6 months! My half sisters name was put in my account with her Garher! I changed it back to my name! It seems to have gone dormant! Can anyone help me figure out how to get it working again?

    • It is still working for me. Just go a new one today. I had to update the app with my new password when I changed it as follows: Click the three vertical dots on the left. Then click settings. Lots of things there. Make sure your username and email are what you have on ancestry then scroll down and sign out and then sign back in again

    • Theresa, I’ve found that when I work on my trees I get more “relatives”. My granddaughter and I started using “We’re Related” and it is fun. I do trace my line to the common ancestor but not the famous person’s one. We have fun with it but do not use it on my trees. It has had me recheck some of my work and I’ve found a few errors which I researched further and corrected. It sends me names for 4 different trees and I keep a list. Just work on your trees a little more and they should start sending more names. Good luck.

    • I had the We’re Related app on my phone for almost a year. I had over 115 ancestors that were correct, on my side, in my tree. The app stopped giving me hints, so I removed the icon from my iPhone a couple of months ago. I didn’t remove the app from settings, so when I saw friends with new hints, I downloaded the We’re Related app again. I made my tree public in Ancestry.com, and shared my list of correct ancestors available for my friends to see. I got over 20 new hints of actual friends in my DNA group on Facebook. My Facebook friends confirmed almost all of the hints matched their trees. I don’t allow the app to see my Facebook friends; the friends that were suggested were already on the app. It is working perfectly for me, as of 5/17/2019. The app also helps me when I have a dead end ancestor, by suggesting new ancestors for that line.

  11. I don’t think the app is available any more. My friend searched for it and so did I. It’s not there in Apple apps. I’ve had it for a long long time and it works for me all the time.

  12. Why is this app showing as not available to Fort Wayne Indiana and I don’t even see it in the ancestry pages anymore either. It says sorry about the inconvenience. What? Seriously…

  13. Hi Kitty Cooper. Thanks for this article.
    I too have Kelly Wheaton as a DNA match. She contacted me 5 years ago, and introduced me to DNA genealogy via her help page. Now, i have about 750 dna triangulation s (or, at least, common ancestors in our pedigrees), 38 DNA Circles, and 132 ‘Were Related’ VIPs.
    So, Im wondering where these ‘were related’ relations are derived from. You mention geni.com . Is that based on info from Ancestry, or the ‘developers’? What about wikitree? And, there used to be something called oneworldtree, i think.
    Thanks!

    • I sent my request to Kelly Wheaton by email, since this thread is dormant or my question is not clear, or of much interest. Will reply to myself if I discover anything useful.

  14. These are all derived by Ancestry sonehow (maybe preparing for ThruLines?) and any questions about this app have to be asked of Ancestry support.

    It is my understanding that this app is no longer available for download

  15. I understand Ancestry discontinues this app. What a shame! It is so interesting. My question is if they discontinued it how come it keeps adding people? Is it fully AI with a computer churning the info? Or are humans somehow supervising and continuing it?

  16. I have had the app since it first started and it is working fine. It gave me a line that I have been working on for over 20 years, unfortunately there are no proven sources, so even though I basically believe it might be true until I find that source I can’t use it for my lines.
    I test every line against what I have proven and so many are correct it is astounding.

    • Shirley,
      Well the app solved a DNA connection I had wondered about, a facebook friend with a one segment match we we had guessed was from Seljord, Telemark, Norway. It shows a 9th cousin path for us that seems accurate!

      However there are a few celebrities with ancestors named Lars Olson that are improperly matched with one of my many ancestors of that name! Most however seem accurate

      Anyway it is great fun!

  17. Had app downloaded. It was on old phone that was overheating and removed as many apps as possible to stop overheating. So bought new phone and tried getting it there and no luck. So put it on old phone and a year later and still don’t have original matches to famous persons.

  18. Hello my app keeps telling me error communicating with server, please try later then it said error getting account I did have an account ugh the app was fun

  19. I talked to ancestry and the told me that them crater that made the where related app pulled it from ancestry that is why a lot of use are not connecting now and if we want it to come back that we can call ancestry support and the say if they get a lot of people wanting it back they would contact the person that crated it to see if they will bring it back again. my app is still down

  20. I had read your post about the “We’re Related” app being discontinued. I wanted to keep my “relatives,” so I made screen prints of the connections for me and the other person. It took some time but I got them and I’m so glad I did. As of today, I am no longer able to connect to their server.

  21. It’s funny how I had the app for several years and it was always at the same 9-10 famous people. Then I receive the noticed that they were discontinuing the app and suddenly I was getting 5-6 new famous people each week. Like Sherry, I recorded those lines, however via Excel and showed my relationship line back to the common ancestor and next to my line the line down to the famous person. If more than one famous person and I shared that same common ancestor, they became the third column. I know have around 70 famous people and 59 possible ancestors to research. So that is exciting. I did prove that I am related to Donna Reed who is my 3rd cousin once removed. As for the rest, they are more remote. Sad to see it go, though I know it had a few lines that I already knew were wrong.

  22. Suddenly the We’re Related app doesn’t want to load on my iPhone. Am I the only one having this problem?
    Also, I had very recently enjoyed seeing a lot of famous faces of people I may or may not be related to on the site. I am the 3rd cousin of singer Minnie Riperton. I know this for a fact, but she is not even mentioned among my “famous relatives,” although, happily my other famous cousin, Minnie Riperton’s daughter, actress Maya Rudolph, my 4th cousin, is mentioned. Even though the We’re Related site matches were not perfect, I was thrilled overall with the results that came up. I am disappointed to see that it’s not available anymore.

  23. Yes everyone, this app is gone. It was lots of fun.

    GENI.com which is a one world collaborative tree with only one profile per person has many famous people so if you add yourself there you can see how you are related to them.

    Note that your grandparents or great grandparents may already be in that tree so it is not too onerous.(Charlemagne is my 34th grandfather and you?)
    https://www.geni.com/people/Charlemagne/6000000002457013227

    This post may help:
    https://blog.kittycooper.com/2019/04/preserving-your-family-history-on-a-world-tree/

  24. I am really disappointed that Ancestry deleted this app! It confirmed several of my cousins, and found several more on my Facebook page, some guys my husband went to high school with even. Through this app I found I was a distant cousin to Marie Antoinette, from there, I was able to get back on my
    Ancestry tree and further research lines that had been dead ends and brick walls. I found I am 13th great granddaughter to Mary Queen of Scots, Robert the Bruce is my 21st great grandfather, all the Stewart’s, Tudor’s,Edward’s ect. All on my fathers side, his great grandparents all came from Wales and England. I would have never gained the knowledge to start looking until this app gave me a few simple leads that I confirmed, and everything opened up on my family tree. I’ve also had my DNA done and that’s all I am is Welsh- English, Irish and Scottish, so that further confirmed my research! Were Related was so much fun, I am not sure why Ancestry shut it down? I hope in the future they create another one of these type of apps!

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