New Tools from Ancestry and MyHeritage

RootsTech has become the time and place for new genealogical announcements and RootsTech 2019 did not disappoint! This blog post focuses on new some new tools available from Ancestry and MyHeritage that you need to check out.

While there is plenty of buzz about these tools, I recommend that you check in with the experts, then try them yourself. The value of the tools is based on personal preference, so you want to form your own opinion.

At the end of the post there is homework to do, but not to turn in!

From Ancestry:

MyTreeTags™: You can add their tags or create custom tags for people’s profiles in your Ancestry tree. There are several categories of tags: Relationships, Research, Reference, DNA and Custom. You can use tags in the search box on the tree itself to find tagged individuals. In the video in the homework section, Crista Cowan has some suggested tags. One is “Never Married” for someone who died young, to remind yourself to not expend effort in a search for descendants. Other tags can be used so that you have reminders about where you are in your research.

New & Improved DNA Matches: You can now use color coding and custom labeling on your DNA matches. For example, you can choose colors to designate groups of matches based on the common ancestor. This is a convenient way to be able to recognize and filter (sort) the matches.

ThruLines™: You can view your the matches and potential links. This tool goes beyond the DNA matches to check user-submitted family trees to generate potential ancestors. I found this a very useful tool to visualize how a group of DNA matches are connected to me and each other. Since this tool can show user-submitted family tree data, remember to use these lines as hints and verify the connections that are shown before adding them to your tree.

From MyHeritage:

MyHeritage came out with new DNA tools to help users leverage and visualize their DNA data.

Auto Cluster, which is reached from the DNA menu -> Tools, then choose AutoClusters. This tool groups matches together visually, using different colors. Since this may take a long time, click on the “Generate” button and you will be emailed a zip file containing the AutoCluster Report when it is completed. Inside the zip file is a Read Me file, an Excel spreadsheet, and an html document that will display the clusters. The Read Me document is personalized, showing the range of cMs included in the clustering, and which matches were excluded (and why).

Theory of Family Relativity, which is found in DNA menu -> DNA Matches
This is a tool to bridge the gap between DNA and paper records. The theories of relativity are built using trees in MyHeritage trees, Geni and Family Search and combining them with records. If you have any theories, a banner appears at the top of your matches.

Here’s another feature while looking at your DNA matches. Under estimated relationships where you see something like “3 -5 cousin” click on the question mark (?) to open an Estimated Relationship Details chart where the shared boxes where showing which are the potential relationships.

If you do not have a subscription, you can pay a one-time fee of $29 per kit to unlock all advanced DNA features offered by MyHeritage, including Theory of Family Relativity™. According to MyHeritage: “Users without a subscription will still see all theories that we found for them, but when they click to see the full theory details, some of the information will be hidden.”
Note: I was able to access AutoCluster tool, but that may be during a trial period. I did not have any theories.

If you do not have a subscription, you can pay a one-time fee of $29 per kit to unlock all advanced DNA features offered by MyHeritage, including Theory of Family Relativity™. According to MyHeritage: “Users without a subscription will still see all theories that we found for them, but when they click to see the full theory details, some of the information will be hidden.”
Note: I was able to access AutoCluster tool, but that may be during a trial period. I did not have any theories.

Here’s the homework.

For each company, I have posted links to a description in of the new tools at the company’s blog, and a video describing the tool. I recommend you try these things after reading them. After you have some familiarity with the tools, you can look at the plethora of how-to’s and discussions of the key features.

  • Watch the video
  • Read the blog post
  • Try it yourself!
  • Look for more information and how-to articles on the web (optional)

Read about ThruLines™ and MyTreeTags in the Ancestry blog here.

To learn about Ancestry’s MyTreeTags and New & Improved DNA Matching watch Crista Cowan’s video “What You Don’t Know about Ancestry” here.

Crista Cowan explains ThruLines in “Introducing ThruLines™ | Ancestry”.

The video can also be found here.  

To learn about MyHeritage’s new DNA tools, read their blog post about Theory of Family Relativity here.

Blaine Bettinger’s video “New MyHeritage Tools – AutoCluster and Theory of Family Relativity”

The video can also be found here.

Check out these new tools and let me know how you do!

7 Categories for Genealogical Goals

7 Categories for Genealogy GoalsI

t’s a New Year!

For many, each new year comes with resolutions. These are typically about health and well being. How about some for genealogy? Since we are at the end of January, you need only do 11 to cover the rest of the year.

The first step is to define your current genealogical goals. You might be looking into one branch of the family, trying to find immigrants place of origin or make progress on a lineage society application.  

Make a list of your goal for each month.

To organize your efforts, and keep track of what you did and did not find, consider using a Research Log. You can learn more about them at the Family Search Wiki or even take view an online class about them

Once you have made a list of your goals, consider how large each is. For larger goals, you will probably want to divide them into subgoals for a month and choose from one category to complete.  

Research shows we have greater success with smaller goals than larger ones, do here are some suggestions for categories of goals:

1. Write. Document your own life. Collect the documents that prove who you are and your relationships. Compiling a timeline of your life events would be great.

Or choose to write about an ancestor you have researched. Include all the data you have found and all the family stories. Writing about an ancestor gives a product to share with your family. It also sheds light on the gaps in your research.

2. DNA. Spend some time thinking about the use of DNA in your genealogical research. Consider taking a DNA test. There are definitely privacy concerns that you will want to consider. If you decide to test, consider getting family members on both your maternal and paternal sides. 

If you have already taken a test, do something to organize your matches.  For those who tested at, the manual Leeds method may help. There are a large number of automated clustering tools to investigate.

3. Learning. Learn about an ethnic group and its migration and records. Learn about using a set of records or a subscription service. Learn about genealogical research in a state or county. There is a lot to learn, so there may be different learning goals over the year. Remember that the best way to retain what we have learned is to apply what you learn as soon after the class  as you can.  

Classes about many topics can be found on FamilySearch Learning Center.

Some Legacy Family Tree Webinars are free for a week after they are originally aired. They offer subscriptions, and individual webinars can be purchased. has a YouTube video channel to learn about research techniques and find out about their new collections. 

Search YouTube for videos about topics that relate to your research. There are classes and lectures. There are videos about genealogy tools and how to use them. There are tours of locations. Depending on your cable provider, you may find that you have access to YouTube on a channel. While the YouTube interface on FIOS is awkward, watching the video on a larger TV screen can be good.

4. Podcasts. Do you listen to genealogy podcasts? Have you searched iTunes for new genealogy podcasts? I never miss an episode of The Genealogy Guys Podcast. There are a bunch of others out there to enjoy!

5. Gather. Go to a genealogical event in person. This could be a meeting of a local society or a regional or national conference.

6. What’s at the Library? You can visit and ask. Most libraries have a website where you can find out what resources they access. You might find that your library card can unlock HeritageQuest, Fold3 or other resources for home use. The Library Edition of usually requires you go to the library to use it. Also look for libraries in your ancestors’ regions. 

7. An Electronic Family Tree. Think of it as organizational step. It is great to have all the paper, but having it all electronically lets you print out forms and reports more easily. Capture data, scans of records and images you find in this electronic family tree. Decide if you want a tree on your own computer or online. You might want both, so look at software that synchronizes the trees. Needless to say, this will probably be a larger project, so set up subgoals by branches or groups of family.

This reminds me of housecleaning, which is something that can be hard to get excited about doing, but the results make you feel better. In fact, my Mother used to recommend cleaning when you felt low because you will have something to show for the time.

What if… ? Relax! You may not complete a monthly goal, or find you want a goal to spill into the next month. You may want to skip a monthly goal to do something more promising. You may not have time that month to do what you planned. It’s your list! It’s fluid!

If you can devote a weekend to each goal, or even a day per month, you can get closer to your genealogical goals. You will find that having  (changeable) goals will get you closer.

Sales on DNA Tests and Our Books

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you have been waiting to do your Autosomal DNA, now may be the time! The atDNA tests are on sale. (I have not seen a Black Friday price for 23andMe, and although the database is large, it may be that the other people in it may be more focused on the health aspect of the testing rather than genealogy.)

Family Tree DNA Holiday Sale

The annual Family Tree DNA Holiday Sale is offering the Family Finder/Ethnic Percentages for $59. They are also offering  bundles that combine Family Finder and Y-DNA and mitochondrial tests. Holiday Sale

The Ancestry Insider Blog ( gives details about the test being on sale for $69 from 25 November to 28 November 2016. From 29 November to 14 December 2016 they are offering it for $89.

When Choosing A Company

Here are some things to consider when choosing a company for autosomal DNA testing

Testing at

  • The database has over 2,000,000 people (23andMe has 1,000,000 and FTDNA has almost 830,000)
  • You can attach your results to your tree
  • You can see your matches, but you cannot examine the details of the individual matching chromosomes
  • While you can transfer your results from to FTDNA, there is a fee to see the matches

Testing at Family Tree DNA:

  • The tools at FTDNA to see chromosomes are good
  • You can upload your family tree to the website

No matter where you test:

  • Consider transferring your results to to match with people who have tested elsewhere
  • GEDMatch has good tools for chromosome data

Our Books are on Sale for Black Friday / Cyber Monday

Our books “A Week of Genealogy” and “A Weekend of Genealogy” are on sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. To receive a 25% discount, use the links at and remember to use code 44RZVNZD when you check out.

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