Tag Archive | ancestry.com

My Thoughts on the Changes at Ancestry

Drop down menu from messages icon top right, red arrow added by me

The changes to my messages on Ancestry are more of a problem for me than the upcoming changes to small matches. Most of the major bloggers have weighed in with their opinions about Ancestry removing matches of less than 8 cM to people not starred, grouped, or messaged. So I will list some of those articles at the end of this one. Fortunately the date for this change has been moved from early August to late August.

Personally I do not have a strong opinion about small segments. For my family, those matches are not at all useful, so I pay them no attention. About half of them rate to be false matches anyway, although Ancestry has good algorithms for phasing, making more of them real than elsewhere. However I do understand that small matches can be important to people looking into deeper ancestry. Note that I have never used those very small matches even when solving unknown parentage cases.

The other upcoming changes to segment information like showing the size of the largest segment and using decimals for the centimorgans (cM) instead of rounding to the nearest whole number are clear improvements. [UPDATE 30-Aug-2020: the longest segment is here. Click here for my blog post about it.]

However my messages, carefully filed into 50 folders, have just been converted to the new system months after everyone else’s. One major annoyance is that every message thread was suddenly marked unread, all 64 of them! I had previously read almost all of them (only 4 listed unread on my icon). At least they gave me the option to download my old folders of messages.

My Messages look like this now, red arrow is my addition

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Ancestry Improves the Potential Parent Box

Have you seen those boxes with green silhouette images in your tree titled Potential Father and Potential Mother? This feature has recently been greatly improved.

When you click on one of these boxes, Ancestry tells you that it has perhaps found that parent, like the image to the right, and it offers you two buttons, one to review the details and another to add this person manually. Clicking Add Manually just pops up a box with empty slots for you to add that person.

Review Details used to only show you the family information for the person that Ancestry had found, but not where it was from. Sometimes, if it looked accurate, I would click the “Yes” green button to add it for a quick and dirty (Q&D) tree I was making to search for an adoptee’s family. Sometimes it was easy to reject when the family information did not match. However mainly I would go to the hints for that person from their profile in my tree to see if I could figure out the possible parent from there. All in all, the Potential Parent box was only a little bit useful.

So how have they improved this?

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Collecting Family Trees with Automation

Did you know that there are chrome add-ons that can collect pedigree trees from many genealogy sites and DNA testing sites? These tools can collect a tree of ancestors as an ahnentafel list which is a very useful and compact format to scan for common ancestors and locations.

Click here for my post explaining an Ahnentafel list and the tool DNArboretum to create one from a tree at Family Tree DNA.

The pedigree view of a family tree on Ancestry.com or MyHeritage can also be collected into an ahnentafel list with another chrome add-on, a tool called Pedigree Thief (click here to download it).

Saving a new cousin to my tree

When it is just a few new relatives at Ancestry, you don’t need those add-ons. After all, it is easy to use the Tools menu on the Profile Page of the ancestor you want from a tree at Ancestry.com to copy over a few people. In fact, if you copy one person over, you can click back to the original tree and copy them again in order to get their whole family group, just like in an Ancestry hint. I do recommend that you check sources and make sure that this is good information. Even if you are making a Quick & Dirty tree (Q&D) for an adoptee, it is best to check it over, as some trees on Ancestry.com are quite unrealistic with parents born after their children and other such errors.

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Getting a Simple Text Pedigree from Ancestry.com

Did you know that you can get a nice text pedigree tree at Ancestry.com to send to your relatives? Recently a new cousin, who had tested her DNA elsewhere, sent me a screenshot of her tree at Ancestry. That really wasn’t very useful because it showed just names and years, no places or exact dates.

For many, exporting a GEDCOM and sending that is best, but if you do not have the software to privatize or export just a section of your GEDCOM, try sending a text pedigree. Your closer DNA relatives might prefer that anyway as it is easy to scan for common surnames.

Here is how to do this.

First go to your tree at Ancestry.com on your computer, not your tablet or phone.

Find the person whose ancestors you wish to share with your new cousin. Click on the name or photo in the tree and a box will appear with more about them that includes several buttons along the bottom.

Click the button with the tools icon. That gets a little menu which includes the item “View her family tree.” Click that.  The example above shows the box and the menu. Note that you will not get this menu item if you are already viewing the tree from the person of interest, in that case just continue with the next step.

If you are not already using the pedigree view, click the pedigree icon at top of the icon strip on the left side of your tree to get it.

Next click the print icon at the bottom of that icon strip. Now you will be on a page with a nice simple looking text pedigree that has all the information a relative would want, as in the example below. Continue reading

Michelle’s AncestryDNA tips

No matter how expert you think you are, there is always something to be learned from others.
Michelle Trostler

When I saw that Michelle Trostler of DNA Detectives on Facebook and Identify Family was giving a talk on getting started with AncestryDNA for my local DNA special interest group, the North San Diego County Genealogical Society, I knew I should go, and I am glad that I did.

Personally, I use the Ancestry.com DNA testing service the least of the big three because all my ancestors are relatively recent arrivals (late 1800s and 1930s) so I do not have as many DNA matches there as elsewhere. Thus I know far less about using that site than the others.

Michelle is a knowledgeable and confident speaker. You can hear her at the upcoming i4GG seminar in San Diego as well.

Here are some of the tips from her talk that I found particularly useful.
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