Ancestry’s new DNA feature: ThruLines

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.

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.

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).

The Beta  page for specific match (picture at top cut off and shared matches and populations below are also cut off)

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

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14 thoughts on “Ancestry’s new DNA feature: ThruLines

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  1. Once this is debugged it might be a useful tool. Problem I have found is that if there is an error in other people’s trees this new feature will insist that you should review it. This can lead to more time wasted looking for genuine leads. Rather like the green leaf hints it has the promise of being great but it is only as good as other people’s research and the quality of algorithms applied.

    • Too true, Zoe. A (known) cousin of mine made a change in her tree that I suspect was prompted by ThruLines, as it just happened. She connected my dad and all his siblings to his stepfather, instead of just the one child he had with my grandmother. Now my ThruLines is loaded with the stepfather’s ancestry. I won’t even bother looking at the other kits in my family now. 🙁 Somebody wake me up when it is working properly.

  2. It finds connections to your DNA matches by looking through other people’s trees for you.-

    I am perfectly capable of doing that myself. I want DNA matches not tree matches. How great are the trees at ancestry? You’d have to be living without electricity on a remote island to not know most are awful. Please don’t match me up using trees!
    The true lines I got were for me and my sister to every family member of my tree to every family member of my great grandmother’s 2nd husband’s first wife’s parents. We are not related. I want the circles. At least they were helpful to use for research. Truelines is a farce. Add those to the play list ancestry was pushing and the new health stuff they want you to buy which doesn’t tell you anything. Promethese will do a much better job for a lot less money. Ancestry is all about making money for the company.

  3. “The ThruLines page shows images of each of your ancestors with whom you share DNA matches,” actually not true… I help adoptees and it is showing their adoptive family, just because someone else has a tree with them in it, even though the other person with the tree has not tested and would not be a dna match. It does say “may not be related to any DNA matches through..” but again that is misleading on the bio family lines. I have an adoptee with a 1/2 sister who doesn’t show up because she doesn’t have a tree..and therefore I get the “may not be related” message to bio dad just because no one has tested that has a 4 generation tree. Right now just too much false information to waste my time going through… if they would add the same feature to create tags and filter on it, I could eliminate the false info.

  4. I’m finding the same situation that Lina Klein notes. My uncle is ana doptee and my tree reflects his birth parents but Thru Lines is telling me he’s related to ancestors of his adoptive parents (these people are from 2 different countries!).

  5. That’s great…except that some of the listings in my Thrulines have disappeared. I’m betting that the folks with private tress got annoyed and now have made their trees non-searchable.
    My advice is to take screen shots and record as many of your Thrulines as you can. You don’t know when they will be gone.

  6. I was really impressed with ThruLines but mine have disappeared from the bugs Kitty mention. I agree with Mark Van Valkenberg..take screen shots like crazy. It seems to pull up a lot of great information on other trees.

  7. Love the matches using Private trees.
    But I know some people who need to remain private (stalkers, abusive exes).
    And I wonder what this holds for them?
    Until now choices have been clear.
    What settings do they now use to avoid being tracked?
    And still enjoy their genealogy.
    Having to stop genealogy would be yet another unfortunate abuse.

  8. I am loving this new tool. I acknowledge the errors pulled in from other’s trees but for me this is already helping break down some brick walls. For instance it is showing me previously unknown ancestors and showing the number of DNA matches I have to each of that previously unknown ancestor’s children. I assume that this is because behind the scenes, ancestry is able to triangulate these DNA segments, but I’m not sure that has been stated anywhere. In other words, ancestry doesn’t have a chromosome browser we can use… but are they actually using matching sements in order to try to generate the thrulines? Does anyone know? In the meantime, I am trying to email all 42 matches through a “new” ancestor to see if they have a gedmatch number in order to verify. This of course will take time assuming that people even get back to me… usually only a small percent do!
    Thanks for anyone’s comments or help on the above.
    PS: I also manage an adoptee’s DNA, while the adopted ancestors show on the main page, when you click on the picture, it does say that the person “may not share DNA” or something to that effect.

  9. I like what Ancestry is doing with ThruLines. This is a Beta program and not the final product. Expect changes.
    I spent an hour or so on the phone with tech support when ThruLines was showing relationships from my tree incorrectly.
    A few days later the problem was fixed. If you have problems with ThruLines displaying try deleting your Ancestry cookies in your browser.

  10. I do like ThruLines, BUT, there are some things I would like to see change. I would like to be able to delete “Private.” I would like to have a way to alphabetize the ancestors, so I can find someone easier. I would very much like to be able to disconnect with some ancestors some have accepted without proof that are now showing as my ancestors. Some of these I know are wrong and can prove it! I had the same problem with Ancestry trees. I like the suggestion, but let me make the decision on whether I trust their research or not.

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