So you’ve taken the autosomal DNA test at Ancestry with the goal of furthering your genealogy research. If you are anything like me, after the initial euphoria of seeing matches and DNA tree hints you will very soon get to the point where you want more information. You want to know, for example, the segments you share with your DNA match and who else may share them with the two of you. Or you may just want to find your ICW matches beyond the 4th cousin limit. Ancestry of course has this information but has decided not to give it to you. Fortunately, several brilliant and generous researchers have created tools to pick up the slack. In this blog post I want to mention three tools that I have started using and have found immensely useful.
The first tool I started using was GEDmatch. (Learn more at gedmatch.com) Essentially, this is a site where you can upload your raw DNA results from Ancestry, FTDNA and 23andme. So right off the bat you have the potential to find DNA matches who tested with a different company if they upload to GEDmatch as well. And the biggest bonus to those who tested at Ancestry — GEDmatch has a chromosome browser and provides you with segment-level details on your match. This has allowed me to gain insight into some of my Ancestry matches that I never would have been able to determine otherwise. For example, in the case where my match and I share ancestry on multiple lines the chromosome browser can help me to determine from which of the multiple common ancestors (or ancestral couples) I inherited a particular matching segment. This is achieved by triangulating with additional matches that the original match and I have in common.
The second tool I started using was AncestryDNA Helper. (It is a free extension to the Chrome browser and you can find it in the Chrome store.) Use it to scan your matches and download cvs files of matches and ancestors of matches. The tool also adds an icon on the Ancestry match list display to indicate ICW matches between your kit and other kits you manage – without the 4th cousin limitation imposed by Ancestry. One of my favorite features is the ability to find your matches by user name. This is very helpful when linking up Ancestry GEDmatch kits to Ancestry trees.
The third tool I want to mention in this post is GMP (Genome Mate Pro). (More information at genomemate.org) This is an application that runs on your computer (PC or Mac) in which you can store, visualize and analyze your matching segments. (Note: this tool does not work with the raw DNA – just match data.) This program is awesome! Many of the genetic genealogy experts talk about creating spreadsheets for this purpose. I am so glad that I stumbled upon this program before I started down that road. Basically you create a profile for each kit you administer then load in the match data for each profile. Admittedly, GMP is a program that you will likely have to invest some time learning, but the good news is that there are various videos and blog posts that can help you get started. All I can say is that it is well worth the time.
In addition to these three, there are other tools out there that you may want to consider. This list represents some free or freeium tools that can help you get started. I hope you find it useful!