Ancestry Blog » AncestryDNA The official blog of Ancestry Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:58:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sisters Separated in Childhood Reunited with AncestryDNA Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:58:17 +0000 Read more]]> Connie and Delores, Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Ann Overstreet Photography.

Connie and Delores, Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Ann Overstreet Photography.

Long-lost sisters, Connie and Delores were separated at a young age with Delores being adopted by their birth mother’s parents and Connie being adopted by an unknown family.

Delores was introduced to the truth of a sister existing at a young age when she discovered a baby photo and birth certificate. After years, Delores thought it would be impossible to find Connie because she didn’t know anything of the adopted family.

The two sisters both turned to AncestryDNA this year to finally find the missing piece to their family history puzzle and they reconnected immediately over the phone. Connie, who now lives in Michigan, quickly reserved plane tickets to visit Delores in Ontario just weeks after their first call.

Photographer Stephanie Ann Overstreet had the opportunity to capture the first moments of Delores and Connie meeting at the Ontario Airport last month, which was a very emotional for the sisters. “At one moment during their reunion, Connie told Delores, ‘It’s like you’ve always been around me somehow.’”

To see more photographs of the sisters’ reuniting, visit Stephanie Ann Overstreet Photography.

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AncestryDNA’s New Ancestor Discoveries Solves a 100 Year Old Family Story Wed, 22 Jul 2015 13:00:11 +0000 Read more]]> Our latest innovation from AncestryDNA makes it possible to find your ancestors using just DNA. We call it New Ancestor Discoveries, and Gloria, an AncestryDNA customer, found out exactly how powerful this technology can be.

Gloria was born and raised in Honduras. Her parents divorced when she was little, and she had limited contact with her father. She knew her paternal grandfather, Arcadio Lopez, growing up in Honduras, and he hadn’t known his father either, but his mother, Bernardina Lopéz, had always claimed that an American named “Alberto Becker” was Gloria’s great-grandfather. She also said that Alberto had been shot by his brother and died in Honduras. As in many families, stories get passed down, but Gloria really wondered if this one was true?

Later in life Gloria started her journey to find out who her great-grandfather really was. With a name in hand, “Alberto Becker,” and a possible name for his father, Rufino, she set out. She started a tree with the information she knew and a question: is Alberto Becker my great-grandfather?

AncestryDNA Solves 100 year old mystery

Gloria reached out to her father, and after reconnecting with him, she found out that he had changed his name from Lopez to Baker after becoming an U.S. resident. When she asked about the change, he said, “That’s what it should have been.” Baker when said in Spanish sounds like Becker. Gloria had been looking for the wrong name for years. But there still wasn’t any proof that an Alberto Baker was actually her great-grandfather.

AncestryDNA Solves 100 year old mystery-2Armed with the right name―Baker not Becker―she turned to Ancestry and found New Orleans Passenger Lists and U.S. Consular Registration Certificates with a Dr. Rufus Baker and his sons, Edward and Albert, entering and leaving Honduras multiple times from New Orleans starting in the year 1904. Was this Albert in fact her “Alberto”? And could Albert’s father, Rufus, be the Rufino her great-grandmother remembered. It certainly looked possible, but it wasn’t proof enough for Gloria, so she kept searching.

She used the new information she had uncovered to track down more about Albert Baker on Ancestry. Looking at public trees that were sourced and documented, Gloria found Albert’s parents: Rufus, son of Abraham Baker and Rebecca Good, and Clara Conrad, daughter of John Conrad and Rebecca Snyder. But this only proved that there was an Albert Baker who existed―it still didn’t confirm that he was her grandfather’s father. And what about Albert getting shot? Gloria did more digging through unindexed Honduran records and found that Edward (Albert’s older brother) had accidentally shot him at home. According to the death record, Albert was buried in Honduras on a ranch that unfortunately doesn’t exist today. But the record also said that he was single and listed no children. Everything fit, except this last piece. If this Albert really had no children, was this her family’s Albert?

That’s when Gloria turned to AncestryDNA. Every person inherits DNA from their two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on. This is what makes DNA a valuable record we can use to connect us to others. While each of us gets half of our genetic material from Mom and half from Dad, even our siblings (barring identical twins) don’t receive exactly the same halves of our parents’ DNA, which means that everyone’s DNA is unique.

Soon after her results came back, Gloria received a New Ancestor Discovery  pointing to a Joseph Good. This meant she genetically matched others who had Joseph Good in Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 12.09.23 PMtheir tree. But who was this Joseph Good born in Virginia in the late 1700s? And how was Gloria connected to him?

By looking at the family trees of people in the Joseph Good DNA Circle she found out that Joseph Good had a daughter named Rebecca who married Abraham Baker who were the parents of Rufus, Albert’s father. Joseph Good was the great-grandfather of Albert Baker, who fathered Gloria’s grandfather, Arcadio. It turned out that Great-grandmother Bernardina was right! And now Gloria had proof. After years of research, DNA and her genetic cousins let her confirm and extend her family tree back to Joseph Good.

AncestryDNA solves 100 year old family mystery-2

This is the power of DNA. AncestryDNA can help us answer questions on any of our family lines—this one just happened to be Gloria’s paternal line. Now she’s on to the next mystery: who were the parents’ of Bernardina Lopez? Gloria is hoping DNA will help her uncover that side of the family now. The good news is she doesn’t have to take another DNA test to research that line, so she has already started searching through her DNA matches for connections.

If you’re leaving DNA out of your research, your research isn’t done. DNA and record research go hand in hand to help verify and extend our family story. Learn more what DNA can do for you.

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AncestryDNA Celebrates One Million People Tested Thu, 16 Jul 2015 14:21:34 +0000 Read more]]> 1337-dna-15-1milliongenomescampaign-affil-all-site-customers-728x90

We just hit a huge milestone, and we are excited to celebrate! In just three short years AncestryDNA has genetically tested one million people to help them discover more about themselves and their family story. Thanks a million to all of you who have been tested and for everyone who will be taking the test soon. The AncestryDNA database has more than doubled in the last year, and so far we’ve delivered 99 million connections of 4th cousins or closer. That means that on average, 1 in 5,000 people who have taken the test are related within about 5 generations.

DNA US Infographic


What does one million in our database mean for you?

DNA testing has become a must if you’re looking to discover your own story, as more people take the DNA test every day means more opportunities for connections and new discoveries. It’s amazing to look back and see how fast we have grown, but what really impresses me is the stories we’ve heard about the connections people are making. New discoveries are happening and lives are changing because of a simple DNA test. Here are a few examples of what our one million friends have found:



“I connected with a 4th cousin and was able to break down a wall on my paternal line.” ―Melyssa from Pennsylvania (Read her full story here)




“AncestryDNA helped bring my sister and me together. It’s been an incredible journey.” ―Wendy from California (Read how she first met her sister here)





“I solved a 30-year-old mystery using AncestryDNA.” ―Mike from England (Watch his full story here)



Have you discovered the stories waiting in your DNA? Join the million+ who have today. Learn more now

Have you made a connection using AncestryDNA that you would like to tell us about? Share your story here

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Getting Started with AncestryDNA: Tree Setup and Tools Available Wed, 24 Jun 2015 14:30:36 +0000 Read more]]> You have taken the AncestryDNA test, your results are online, and now you want to do something with them? We can help.

The first thing we recommend is that you link your DNA results to your family to a tree
AncestryDNA will reveal cousin matches whether you have attached your test results to a tree or not. However, in order to understand more about those cousin matches and encourage them to work with you to uncover your common ancestors, it’s important to have a tree on Ancestry with your AncestryDNA results attached to it. Check to make sure your test is attached to the correct person in your family tree by clicking on the Settings button on your DNA homepage. For step-by-step instructions on how to do that, click here.

Have multiple trees?
I strongly encourage you to have a tree that starts with you. If you have two trees, one that starts with Dad and one with Mom, you will have to choose which tree you want to link to. When you do that, you miss out on the opportunities for connections on the other side of the family. Considering merging the trees and creating one that starts with you. To get step-by-step instruction on how to do this, click here.  (Note that you’ll need Family Tree Maker or another software program to do this.)

You can always build a basic tree from scratch that starts at you, then add your direct-line ancestors (your biological parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents to get started).

Have a private tree?
Consider making it public. If you aren’t comfortable with that, an alternative would be to create a version of your tree that includes names and birth places, but leaves out information you aren’t confident about. If you don’t want to include pictures, that’s not an issue. Call this your DNA tree and link your DNA results to it. That way, if I am one of your DNA matches, I can see some information and know where to start the conversation about how we could potentially be related. If you don’t have a tree linked to your test, or it’s private, your cousin matches won’t know where to start and we’ve found people will often skip those matches.

Adoption in the family?
Put that in your tree. Include any info you have and note that it is an adoption.

Next Steps
Now that your results are linked to a tree, we will do the searching for you to discover:

  • DNA Circles
  • Shared Ancestor Hints
  • Shared Surnames and Birth Locations

DNA CirclesTM

circle and known ancestor


DNA Circles re-imagines what DNA matching can do. Circles goes beyond finding a common ancestor with your DNA matches to link you to additional AncestryDNA members with the same common ancestor, thus creating a “circle” of people who are all related.

Each DNA Circle is based on a shared ancestor. Built around each shared ancestor is a network of people who (1) share this same common ancestor and (2) share DNA with multiple people in the Circle. This tool makes it easier to share information and do more with your new-found cousins.

Plus, having a DNA Circle for a common ancestor gives you more confidence that you and others share DNA because you inherited it from this ancestor. Dive deeper into your DNA Circles with this guide.




Shared Ancestor Hintssearch by hint filter

Use the Hint feature to see cousins with whom you have an identified shared ancestor. This is a powerful tool for finding a connection. Review your tree and theirs to ensure that the research is solid. I have found these hints extremely helpful for sharing family pictures and stories.


Shared Surnames and Birth Locations  

When the shared ancestor between you and your matches isn’t super obvious, or perhaps you don’t have the ancestor in your tree, what can you do? Use the search by surname or locations functions and look for patterns. Once you’ve identified a match or two with the same common ancestor, spend a little time researching that family. Use the location filter when a possible surname has changed.

search by surname

Remember that all these tools are only available within the AncestryDNA experience if you have linked your DNA results to a family tree. Link your tree and get started today. Good Luck!


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AncestryDNA – The Viking in the room Tue, 23 Jun 2015 09:11:34 +0000 Read more]]> At genealogy conferences I’ve spoken about AncestryDNA genetic ethnicity estimates. When the topic of Scandinavian ethnicity comes up, there tends to be an elephant in the room, or more accurately a Viking. At some point I invariably get asked by someone if having Scandinavian genetic ethnicity in their estimate means they are descended from Vikings. With this in mind, it seems like a good time to have a closer look at Scandinavian Ethnicity across the UK & Ireland.

Scandinavian Genetic Ethnicity across Great Britain & Ireland



The map above shows average Scandinavian ethnicity estimates across Great Britain and Ireland. It is based on the AncestryDNA test alone and does not use any historical migration data.

Across Great Britain there is a clear pattern with higher Scandinavian genetic ethnicity in the north east of England decreasing as you get further from that region. From a high of 11.1% in the Northeast of England the average drops to a low of 6.5% in Southern Scotland.

In Ireland we see even lower average Scandinavian ethnicity ranging from 5.3% in Ulster to 2.0% in Munster. At this point, we do not have averages calculated at county level in Ireland. A county level average ethnicity may possibly reveal more subtle variations in the averages.


 Average Scandinavian genetic ethnicity estimate across UK & Ireland


A Matter of Interpretation

Knowing the average amounts of a given genetic ethnicity across Britain can be useful. For example, if you have a high amount of Scandinavian in your estimate, then perhaps you might look towards the north east for your roots. But what about the original question we started with – if you have Scandinavian ethnicity can you say you are descended from Vikings?

The answer I normally give people is to consider it like any other genealogical research. Start with what you know. Any interpretation beyond this should at a minimum be consistent with the facts. In relation to Scandinavian genetic ethnicity estimate we can say the following.

    • If you have Scandinavian ethnicity as part of your estimate, then your DNA is similar to a group of modern day people in our AncestryDNA Reference Panel with deep roots in Scandinavia. That modern distinction is important, the test does not compare your DNA to any ancient group of people. In other words, the test does not compare your DNA to any “Viking DNA” (if this even could be defined).
    • Across the AncestryDNA database, higher amounts of average Scandinavian genetic ethnicity estimates are found in the north east of England than in other parts of Britain or Ireland.

Those are the only facts here. Anything beyond that is interpretation and storytelling. As with any interpretation ask yourself; is this consistent with what I know? Is this a plausible explanation of the facts? Am I pushing the facts to fit an explanation I want to believe?

There is a strong desire in all of us to find simple explanations, simple histories. But it is good to remember that the peopling of Europe is a complicated web of historical events, migrations and stories along many different timelines. The migration of Norse Vikings to Britain and their control of the Danelaw is one such event. But there are others. For example, from the 5th century there was also the Anglo-Saxon migration to Britain. The Anglo-Saxon migration is relevant because some of the Germanic tribes involved in that migration (such as the Jutes and Angles) have their origins in what we refer to today as Denmark, a part of Scandinavia.

How you choose to interpret the facts is ultimately up to you. At the end of the day, this is your DNA, this is your story. There is no one better placed to tell it. Tell it wisely, tell it well.


The Danelaw

Danish Vikings began to invade northern and eastern England in 876 and eventually came to control a third of the country, defeating several smaller Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The rulers of the Danelaw, as the Viking area became known, struggled for nearly 80 years with the remaining English kings over the region.

Anglo-Saxon Migration

As the Romans left Britain from 400 A.D., tribes from northern Germany and Denmark seized the opportunity to step in. The Angles (green) and Saxons (purple) soon controlled much of the territory that had been under Roman rule, while the Jutes (orange) occupied some smaller areas in the south.

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Now Connect to Your DNA Cousins in Canada and Australia Wed, 10 Jun 2015 21:28:31 +0000 Read more]]> AncestryDNA FB Cover

AncestryDNA is now available in Australia and Canada. The AncestryDNA database has grown to more than 850,000 people, and now that the test is available in Australia and Canada it will grow even faster, with new possibilities for discovering cousins on both sides of the world. Here are four reasons to be excited about these new international launches of AncestryDNA and what they can mean for you―even if you don’t live there.

  1. Two more melting pots of connections. Both Canada and Australia have been destinations for millions of immigrants over the centuries. And those immigrants came from places far beyond the United Kingdom. Your link to Germany, Ireland, Italy, or even China may pass through Canada or Australia.
  2. Opportunities for more cousin connections. With this expansion to these additional countries for cousin matches, who knows where your research might lead you. Sometimes the paper trail gets lost on the shores of the Atlantic—or the Pacific. Maybe you haven’t been able to find the records that get you back to the old country, maybe they were destroyed, or maybe they never existed. But the genetic record that has continued in your family both here and there might allow you to pick up that trail again, give you new places to look, or connect you with someone who knows the story of the family.
  3. French Canadian Ancestry. As I mentioned earlier, your bridge across the Atlantic doesn’t have to reach back to Great Britain. If you’re among the millions of Americans with French Canadian or Acadian ancestry, you might have cousins—and family stories—waiting just over our northern borders.
  4. Have family in Canada or Australia? Now they can take advantage of all the insights that come from AncestryDNA. If you haven’t tested other family members yet because they live outside the U.S., now is the time to have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or even cousins get their DNA tested to preserve that family information. Every family member is unique and carries different DNA, so testing as many family members as possible will help you capture your genetic heritage and make more connections.

Every new country opens a whole new pool of opportunity for DNA testing. Who knows, I might just find out a branch of the tree sprang up in the Land Down Under. I’ll share any new discoveries I have here, and if you find a cousin who helps you make a new discovery, share with us on Facebook or below in the comments. Connect to your cousins around the world now.

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AncestryDNA is Now Available in Canada Tue, 09 Jun 2015 14:37:54 +0000 Read more]]> AncestryDNA FB Cover

One simple DNA test opens a world of new discoveries.

By combining the latest advancements in DNA science with the world’s largest online family history resource, AncestryDNA can tell all kinds of amazing stories – including yours.

You might be surprised to find out how rich your ethnic roots are.

The AncestryDNA test looks at more than 700,000 markers in your DNA – allowing us to trace your family back generations.

Whether you’re part British, French, or from elsewhere, AncestryDNA can help you discover the names and places that make you who you are. And that’s not all, even after you receive your test results, we’ll continue to let you know when more cousin matches appear.

DNA + Family Trees + Historical Records = Powerful Combination

When you combine the power of Ancestry with the advanced science of AncestryDNA, the result is an unparalleled family history experience. It’s the only service in the world that can sift through 850,000 DNA samples, 70 million family trees, and 16 billion historical records and pull out relevant, meaningful, and accurate details for every single one of our AncestryDNA users.

AncestryDNA has been a fantastic addition in my own family history ‘tool kit’ and connected me with a paternal 3rd cousin who was able to expand a branch where my paper trail had gone dry. She was able to provide photos and stories about my own great grandfather and his siblings that might have taken me years to find (if ever). It was a wonderful gift to be able to share with my father and the best part is we now have more family to stay connected to!

I hope you will consider taking the AncestryDNA test as each person submitting a DNA sample is another potential cousin for us to connect to. To learn more about AncestryDNA or to order your kit now, click here.






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AncestryDNA is Now Available in Australia and New Zealand Wed, 27 May 2015 23:05:51 +0000 Read more]]> 1badge_0000_CORPORATE BLOG (250x250)  V1

We are excited to announce that AncestryDNA is now available to purchase in Australia and New Zealand!

We sold our first DNA kit in the U.S. in 2012, and since then, hundreds of thousands of people in the US and the UK & Ireland have used AncestryDNA to discover more about their family history. Now you can too.

Why choose AncestryDNA?

AncestryDNA is for everyone! For many people, DNA testing is a starting point that opens the doors to your family story. If you have already researched your family tree, it can provide evidence that supports your research and helps you break down brick walls in your family tree. Learn where your ancestors may have come from, with a detailed estimate of your ethnicity. Our scientific breakthroughs allow us to map your ethnicity across 26 separate worldwide populations including Ireland, England, Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, and South and North Africa.

Discover relatives that you never knew existed with our DNA matching. If someone who shares your DNA has taken the test you could find yourself connecting with a 3rd or 4th cousin and learning about a new branch on your tree. All this combined with the billions of records and family trees available to search on Ancestry make AncestryDNA the ultimate family history tool on the market.

How does it work?

We have taken a very technical and scientific process and created a simple and easy to use test. First you order your kit and follow the instructions within. Then you send in your kit with a small saliva sample for our experts to analyse it for you. Once the analysis has been completed you can log into your secure online Ancestry account to view the results and discover your family story!

For more detailed information on AncestryDNA or to order your kit now, click here.

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How AncestryDNA added new life to my family history research. AncestryDNA – Coming Soon to Australia. Fri, 15 May 2015 23:27:03 +0000 Read more]]> 1ComingSoon

I am privileged to work for a company that genuinely makes a difference to the lives of many thousands of people around the world. I have seen first-hand the breakthroughs, connections and family reunions that have been made possible by the records and trees available on Ancestry. Obviously, like many of you, I have used Ancestry to research my own family tree. I am Irish and my family has not left our home place for as far back as I can research, given the limitations of Irish records. Many of my grandparents’ siblings did leave. They traveled, as many Irish emigrants did, across the globe to the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. As a consequence I am more familiar with being found, than I am with finding others. Year after year throughout my childhood and in recent years too, family after family would arrive in Ireland to see the house where their ancestors were born and from which they had to leave in order to find a future in a foreign land. Thanks to resources like Ancestry these families were able to trace their family history right to my doorstep.

Being unable to go further back than I have with records, I have been anticipating the launch of AncestryDNA to see if it can give me that sense of discovery that I had seen so many times on the faces of my relatives as they returned to the birthplace of their ancestors. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from my AncestryDNA results. My parents are both Irish, as are their parents and their parents before them. Would it tell me anything?

After carefully reading the instructions, providing my saliva sample and activating my kit on the Ancestry website; I waited. When I got the notification email to advise the results were back I was a little nervous. What would they say? Am I 99% Irish as I suspected? Will I have any cousin matches? I rushed to open my Ancestry account and see my results.

To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement! It was difficult to take it all in at first glance. Not only did I have a cousin match, I had many cousin matches! I had expected to see matches at 4th cousin or more distant but I had a possible 3rd cousin match! Wow! I have since contacted this person and she is my mother’s second cousin. When I told my mother of this discovery, she was astounded. She was aware of her cousin’s name, but the families had lost touch many years ago and my mother had never met any member of that family. That changed yesterday when they spoke on the phone for over an hour. AncestryDNA made this reunion possible. What was previously just a name on a family tree is now a relationship in the real world.

I also had matches on my father’s side of the tree too, at 4th 5th and 6th cousin. I have not had the chance to go through all my cousin matches yet, I have over 50, but so far on my father’s side we have managed to finally find the answer to an old question. My father and a neighbour had always believed that our families were related, but neither of them knew how. Thanks to AncestryDNA I was able view the family tree of one of my matches in the United States and we have finally found out where the link is! My father could not believe that a simple saliva sample could hold the answer to a question he had been unable to find for decades.

Cousin matches are only half of the results process. AncestryDNA also gives you your ethnicity estimate. I was expecting to find out that I am somewhere around 95% Irish based on what I already know from my family tree. I was in for a surprise. I discovered that I am 85% Irish, 7% British, 4% Eastern European and some trace results from Scandinavia, Northwest Russia and Asia making up the remainder. Not what you might describe as a typical Irishman!

While AncestryDNA has answered many questions and solved some mysteries it has also raised new questions for my family history research. Not since I started my family tree have I been this excited about all the discoveries that lie ahead. I would recommend AncestryDNA to everyone who wants to learn more about their family history, not because I work for Ancestry, but because it is truly a revolutionary product that can take your research to the next level.

If you would like to learn more about AncestryDNA, or to add your name to our invite list, click here.

Once you taken the AncestryDNA test, please feel free to share your success stories with us on Facebook and Twitter .



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Breaking Down the Science Behind Your Ethnicity Results Tue, 05 May 2015 21:16:48 +0000 Read more]]> Are you Scandinavian? Native American? Or maybe you have some Middle Eastern in you. If you’ve gotten your AncestryDNA results you know your unique ethnicity estimate. But have you ever wondered how we determine those results — and why your results can look so different from another family member’s? In this 6-minute video one of our scientists, Ross Curtis, breaks down the science behind the AncestryDNA ethnicity results.

Have more questions? Leave them in the comments below.

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