Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Dear Randy - I Took an AncestryDNA Test, Now What Should I Do?

A society colleague emailed me that question two weeks ago, and I responded:

Your AncestryDNA results will tell you your ethnicity numbers - percent of Europe, Africa, Asia, etc., with a more specific breakdown in regions on those continents. 

But the most valuable information for you, as a genealogist, will be the DNA matches that you will receive - there may be hundreds of other testers who are relatively close cousins or relatives that you don't know about yet.

AncestryDNA will give you several lists of DNA Matches.  Those include "Shared Ancestors" if you have an Ancestry Member Tree attached to your autosomal DNA test.  These "Shared Ancestors" are other researchers who have one or more of your own known ancestors in their tree also.  If there are a number of other researchers with the same "Shared Ancestors," then you may find yourself in a DNA Circle where everybody shares segments of DNA on the same segment of one or more chromosomes.  You will probably receive thousands of other DNA matches that are from other testers who do not have an Ancestry Member Tree attached to their DNA results, or have a tree that does not include your shared ancestors.

You told me that you do not have an Ancestry Member Tree.  I think that you have a family tree in one of the genealogy software programs like Family Tree Maker or RootsMagic.  You could create a GEDCOM file with your software program and upload it to a new Ancestry Member Tree.  Use the Help function in your software program to help you create the GEDCOM file.

Creating and adding information to an Ancestry Member Tree is FREE at Ancestry.  You do have to have a Guest registration with which is also free.  Ancestry has a Support page with helpful articles and videos on how to start an Ancestry Family Tree, and connect your DNA results to it, at

You should try to get as many ancestral families into your Ancestry Member Trees as possible.  Parents and children are important.  Your AncestryDNA results will connect you to cousins who share your ancestors.  You will have a good chance of finding "Shared Ancestors" and cousins if your tree goes back past fourth great-grandparents.

You should download your AncestryDNA raw data, and upload it to other DNA sites (like that will show you a chromosome browser that will tell you which chromosome you match other persons on (not necessarily your AncestryDNA matches).  

UPDATED 15 May 2018:  MyHeritageDNA will also permit you to upload your raw DNA data from Ancestry and will show you a chromosome browser and matches from other MyHeritage users.

Good luck with getting your AncestryDNA results, creating a GEDCOM file, and uploading it to an Ancestry Member Tree.


Copyright (c) 2017, Randall J. Seaver

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Daniel Horowitz said...
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Daniel Horowitz said...

After you do all the above, I will suggest you export your raw data and import into other places to get more matches. Some of the DNA companies that accept raw DNA data from Ancestry for FREE are MyHeritage (, Family Tree DNA ( and Gedmatch (