Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Using the AncestryDNA ThruLines™ Feature to Find Common Ancestors announced the ThruLines™ feature today to help AncestryDNA users find the common ancestor(s) of their DNA matches that have an Ancestry Member Tree.

Over the past week as a Beta tester of the ThruLines™ feature, I have been exploring the feature with my AncestryDNA Matches, providing feedback to AncestryDNA, and I appreciate the usefulness of it.

In this post, I want to explain in some detail how it works, and what users can discover while using it.

1)  The ThruLines™ feature link can be found on the AncestryDNA home page of the user where the DNA circles section used to be - the right-hand side of the screen:

clicking on the link in that section (Explore ThruLines™) leads you to the ThruLines™ page.

2)  After clicking on the ThruLines™ link, the user will see a list of all of the ancestors down through the fifth great-grandparents that are in the user's Ancestry Member Tree that is attached to the DNA test.  Here is the top of my ThruLines™ page:

The page starts with my parents, then grandparents, then first-great-grandparents, and so on, in group of four.

Further down the page are some of my second great-grandparents:

3)  I clicked on the card for my second great-grandfather, James Richman (1821-1912).  Here is the ThruLines™ screen for James Richman:

Note that there are four children of James Richman who have descendants that are AncestryDNA matches with me.  I can click on the link for "13 Matches" under Thomas Richmond and see my DNA matches with him as the common ancestor, including my own line.

The single DNA Match of mine under Charles Edwin Richmond shows my DNA Match on the right side of the screen above [Note that I have blanked out the matches Ancestry name and initials on the screens above and below.].  The match is my 3rd cousin according to AncestryDNA, and we share 102 cM in 6 segments.  Note the button for the two hidden ancestors of the DNA Match up to Charles Edwin Richmond.

4)  I clicked on the button with "2" in it and can now see the father and grandfather of my DNA Match:

All of the boxes between my match and Charles Edwin Richmond have a solid line around them because I have those persons in my linked Ancestry Member Tree already.  If I did not have one or more of the ancestors of my DNA match in my tree, it would have shown them with a dashed box outline, and the information would have come from another online tree (usually the DNA Match's tree).

The user can click on any of the names in the ancestral line and see the Ancestry Member Tree profile for that person, and can see vital information and spouse information for the deceased persons.  If the user clicks on a living person (e.g., the DNA Match), then the user is taken to their DNA Match page that shows their Username and deceased parents, but no other vital information.

4)  After seeing the line of the DNA Match back to the Common Ancestor (in this case, James Richman), I enter the information for the ancestral line of the DNA Match into my RootsMagic family tree program if I don't already have it in the database.

I am using a RootsMagic Custom Fact titled "DNA Match" and entered that Fact on the profile of the DNA Match in my RootsMagic file.  In the Description field for the Fact I entered the DNA information (e.g., "AncestryDNA match, 102 cM, 6 segments")

I also use the Note field on the person Profile page to described the relationship,  For example, my Note says:

"Username XXXX is an AncestryDNA match with Randall Seaver, sharing 102 cM in 6 segments.  They are 3rd cousins, with common ancestors of Randall's 2nd great-grandparents James and Hannah (Rich) Richman."

5)  I have entered about 20 lines of my DNA matches who have a ThruLine to a common ancestor into my RootsMagic tree using this process.  While doing this, I've noted that:

*  The ThruLines™ feature only works if I have a well-populated tree, my match has a well-populated tree, and perhaps another Ancestry Tree owner has persons in the ancestral line that I or my match do not have.

*  While I knew the ancestral line for most of my 3rd cousins and closer in my AncestryDNA Match list, there were several on the list that I had no idea who the common ancestor was.  For most of those, I did not have all of the ancestral line for the DNA Match in my RootsMagic tree before this exercise, so it was very helpful to me.

*  While I have concentrated on DNA Matches with more than 20 cM in my DNA analysis work, I found that some of my DNA Matches who are 4th to 6th cousins, with 7 to 20 cM, show up with an ancestral line to the DNA match.

*  Many of the Ancestry Member Trees of the DNA Matches do not have all deceased persons identified - some are marked Private.  Many of those are deceased, and I have been able to find their names and vital information from other resources, especially from FamilySearch Family Tree.

*  Obviously, if a DNA Match does not have an attached and/or well-populated Ancestry Member Tree, there will be no ancestral line available for them.  For small or unlinked Ancestry trees with a few ancestors, the user may be able to research the line and find a common ancestor for the DNA match.

6)  In my humble opinion, this is a valuable feature that helps AncestryDNA users with an Ancestry Member Tree determine how some of the user's DNA Matches are related to them back to a Common Ancestor.  

7)  I am sure that other researchers will have more comments on how to use this  ThruLines™  feature, and will try to share links to those comments in a future blog post.  I am also sure that I will have more to say on this subject, but I wanted to get this out to the genealogy community as soon as possible to help those who need a demonstration of the feature and the process.


Disclosure:  I have had a fully paid subscription since 2000. has provided material considerations for travel expenses to meetings, and has hosted events and meals that I have attended in Salt Lake City, in past years.

Copyright (c) 2019, Randall J. Seaver

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Jacquie Schattner said...

I read your post on this, and immediately went to ancestry to be a beta user. I was surprised how well this worked. While the US ancestry was what I'd expected, not too many surprises, I was VERY surprised to see many of my European ancestors that I had not seen before. In some cases, despite the fact I thought I'd gone back as far as possible, there were several lines that had one or two more generations. I did a quick check and it appears that they are well sourced and very likely accurate.

The only problem I see is when another tree has gone in the wrong direction, you get all of their branches which are incorrect. Red herring kind of thing. Not ancestry's fault tho.

I wonder tho, altho this is in DNA, some of these say were are not a DNA match, how ancestry put it together correctly. Thanks for letting us know about this new a powerful tool.

Dennis Young said...

I am having some trouble with screen rendering, acknowledging that this is still in beta, and may be a known issue. If I click on a card and see a link that I then expand to several children, the screen will expand to show the children and the rest of the screen moves off to the right and becomes inaccessible - a horizontal scroll bar is not created that allows me to view the information off the screen. Further, if I then reduce the link that displayed the children, the screen does not redraw as it looked originally: I might now have information off the screen to the left that I cannot access. If I refresh the screen at this point, it redraws properly. If I refresh when the screen is expanded to show the children, it will redraw as it appeared without the children. I've tried this in IE11 and Chrome, with the same results.

Unknown said...

You can grab the screen with your cursor and move it left and right to see all of the tree.

Dennis Young said...

Confirmed, thanks.