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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40 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.

    • Leonard, I completely agree about the accuracy problem both in trees and Thrulines. I have contacted Ancestry by leaving comments but that doesn’t seem to make any difference. It’s one thing to see unverifiable info in someone’s family tree (that’s their problem), but quite another when that false information is applied to a tool like Thrulines – and you can’t delete it! It makes me question how they are connecting my DNA matches via Thrulines.

  11. I found a SLEW of DNA Matches, and I was then able to review MANY other trees that had the same people on their trees (the dotted line boxes, will show you whose tree they got the information). and I was able to drill down to the DNA match and look at Ancestry’s logic and reasoning very simply! I also had a problem with an adopted sister, whose thrulines kept looking at all of my biological ancestors…Ancestry said they knew they had a problem with adopted, and will be working on a fix. However, I go to her DNA matches, search for common, and click on compare…and there they are HER biological thrulines! woo hoo! I love this new feature!

  12. ThruLines is a mess. I have a non-parental event in my maternal line. My mother and I are not biologically related to her paternal grandfather nor his ancestors. Instead of displaying my mother’s real biological paternal grandfather and the matches to him and his ancestors as noted in my tree, it’s filled my tree with ThruLines to the man we aren’t biologically related to and his family. None of them displaying any DNA matches to us, because we aren’t biologically related to them. It’s maddening.
    Instead of Ancestry wasting their time and ours with these gimmicks, I wish they would give us a chromosome browser which would actual be useful.

  13. Thrulines is very misleading and it is very difficult to understand what it is really telling you. Matches to a tree aren’t DNA matches. I’m not a beginner and I’m still trying to figure out how it is giving me ancestors that I am clearly not related to. I have same problems as Linda and Toni. Right now it is useless and I hope beginners aren’t trusting it.

    • Well, I am a beginner and I didn’t know until reading all of this that what I was seeing was matching to just the words people put in the tree. I already have figured out that people do not check into things they put in their tree, and don’t even care if they have a 10 year old girl having babies… (not that it hasn’t happened) but, I do see the same mistakes and dead ends – I was a bit frustrated at the “private” notice on the 5th great grandparents… heck they have been dead and gone for a while… but there was a way to figure out the name so all is good there. I did think Ancestry was doing some kind of magical DNA comparison and not just matching me up to people who have the same names in their tree. This explains why on my husband’s tree – the family is Arabic from Lebanon, and scattered to the corners of the earth, and I was hoping the DNA would identify some of his Arabic relatives but without trees….not much there.

      • They are using existing trees with your DNA matches for this ThruLines feature. So yes, it is only as accurate as the trees it uses.

        At least they have fixed it to use your tree first (which is likely more accurate than the others, right?)

        However if any of your husband’s relatives have tested, they will be listed on his DNA match list.

  14. Theulines is a breach in privacy and major bug for Ancestry. My tree is private and unsearchable, for a reason. Yet I’m being connected to people theough thrulines, and they can see parts of my tree.
    Conversely, I can navigate theulines and see the samw in other private trees.
    Does this not negate our option to remain private?

  15. I am looking for a clarification of what thru lines will do or is supposed to do for me. I have called Ancestry and watched you tube reviews and searched for answers.
    Should Thru lines show both sides of my family tree? Should “Common Ancestors” show ancestors from both sides of my family tree? Well, they do not for my or for my sister.
    I just got my DNA results April 3. On DNA matches, my sister is listed as a full sibling sharing 2450 cm. On Thru Lines she is listed as a half sibling. My tree is correct in the linking of her and all my siblings to my mother and father. A person cannot be a full sibling and half sibling with that much shared centimorgans.
    Also, the only ancestors that show up on my Thru LInes page are from my mother’s side of the family. Why would that be?
    Hope someone can help.

  16. Hi Kitty
    I just looked at Thrulines and now instead of saying may not be related it is saying may be related although not via DNA match as some other proven relatives.
    Is this just new wording at Thrulines or does it mean an actual link has been found in another tree or trees?
    I got a bit excited because before today my maternal grandfathers family line were all saying may not be related, and this is the line I am trying to prove or disprove.
    Thank you for your explanation.

    • ThruLines attempts to figure out how you are related to your DNA matches by using your tree and everyone else’s, so you need a DNA test and a tree to get them. It looks at your DNA matches trees, so yes it has everything to do with DNA, however it does not guarantee that the shared DNA is from that ancestor.
      See what ancestry says about it here:
      https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/AncestryDNA-ThruLines

  17. When I try to access Thrulines I get the following message “You may not be seeing suggestions from ThruLines because there is not enough information in the linked family tree.” I have a public, searchable family tree with birth and death dates and places for my ancestors going back at least 4 generations. However I don’t have this information or a real full name for myself or any other living person due to fear of identity theft – I don’t trust that Ancestry can keep this information private. Can you suggest a work around? Could I enter a fake first name, birth date and place?

    • Sure attach your DNA to a fake person who is the child of your parents. Adoptees do that all the time. Ancestry does not show details on the living publicly by the way and the number to guard for identity theft is your social. Plus NEVER use you mother’s maiden name for password retrieval.

      • Update. I added a fictional birth date and place of birth as you suggested, made sure that all of my ancestors back to my GG grandparents had the required information, cleared the cache and cookies on the computer, said a few incantations… Thrulines still not working.
        The other Beta tools are working just fine for me. I think Thrulines is just too buggy to be useful for most people.

  18. Hello Kitty,
    I have a match with 477 Cms, and 22 segments that has a public tree. I tried building a mirror tree and attaching my dna to him,with no results.
    I have no idea how he is related to me or other matches we share.

    I have had great success with Thru-lines with other matches on both sides of my family.

    I just looked at this match again and it is showing no showing no common ancestors. I am slightly frustrated. I am suspecting an adoption in his recent history, but do not know where to look next.

    BTW, I like the way Thru-Lines now shows half relationships!
    Thanks,
    Brian

    • Brian,
      Have you tried contacting this match? Yes with a match that large, likely an adoption or NPE…
      Mirror trees are not used any more….look at the shared matches, that should tell you which line he is related on.
      Using the new Beta match view, you can assign a co!or to each great grandparent line for known relatives which makes it easy to see how a new match fits in by the shared matches

      • Yes, no replies to my messages. He is matched to me on my maternal side. I found a common ancestor but the relationship to me based on that is way further back than 477 Cms.

        My half sister (maternal, same mother) who recently tested is matched to him as well, but at twice the Cms than I am. The crazy thing is, she has half siblings (same father, different mother) who are also matched to this person.

        It looks like she is matched to him through her maternal as well as paternal sides. I am treading in very muddy water.

  19. I don’t like Thrulines at all. I keep getting a nephew’s son as my grandson. He is my sister’s grandson and his identity has been secret until lately. So it’s kind of a sticky wicket. I also keep getting my great grandmother’s 2nd husband whom she married way past her childbearing years as my great grandpa. In other words I’m getting junk connections and my fear is a lot of people will just add the junk to their family trees because they think Thrulines is science (ie DNA based). I will gladly opt out if it becomes an extra feature you have to pay for. Ancestry is way too expensive anyway. Is there anyway I can turn it off?

    • I am sorry you do not like it. It is very useful for most of us. The problems come when the trees it uses are inaccurate. Your best defense is to make your own tree as accurate as possible building all the various branches.
      When you click on the path it has found by using other people’s trees, there is a green evaluate button. Click that to see the trees. Then you can contact any people whose trees are inaccurate. You might lave a note on the inaccurate ancestor with a link to documents explaining it. See this post for how to do that http://blog.kittycooper.com/2017/11/how-to-get-your-ancestry-match-to-respond/

  20. ThruLines just threw a 1/2 aunt as an ancestor, even though I see nothing in the attached trees that would justify such a designation. How does Ancestry know this?

  21. I paid for an Ancestry DNA test because I wanted DNA relatives with the same documentation on ancestors. That was stolen from me for ThruLines trash. These people are not my relatives, they do not even have children with my ancestors names, they are not DNA matches! They bastardized real relatives by half aunt and half uncle lies. I made my tree private to get rid of ThruLines. It was also made private because Ancestry had all my personal records and photos all over Google. Any criminal or illegal alien can get access to a tree you have to pay for. I also found trees on Google with living relatives so they are lying about protecting their privacy. I sent messages to some of my relatives and now I am not being allowed to read their answers. I am shopping around for better website.

    • Linda,
      Anyone in ThruLines is genetically related to you so yes they are DNA relatives but perhaps not recently. Most of us do not have the view that those are trash, but rather hints, some more accurate than others.
      I am sorry you have been so disappointed, the half relationships happen when Ancestry cannot resolve the differences in the spouses name or dates even though they are the same person.
      Living people are private in their dates and usually names but not photos. Most people use a web site like Ancestry because they WANT to SHARE the family photos and stories. What exactly would a criminal accomplish with those photos or stories? Why would they bother?
      If you want everything private, then DO NOT use a public website, keep it on your own computer in a software program. If you get Family Tree Maker you can have it synch with your tree at Ancestry in order to copy that (and then delete it from Ancestry so it is no longer on the web). Also perhaps Roots Magic does that.
      Again, modify your expectations or stay offline. Sorry for your troubles.

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