Tuesday, September 2, 2014

#FGS2014 Conference: AncestryDNA Ethnicity Reports

At the 2014 annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, Anna Swayne of Ancestry.com presented the session “Utilizing AncestryDNA Matching to Break Through Brick Walls in your Research.” This is the second of three articles about that presentation.

When you get your DNA tested from AncestryDNA, you get two types of results: an ethnicity estimate and a report of matches.

To calculate your ethnicity, AncestryDNA compares your DNA against 26 different global regions and gives you an estimate of your ethnicity. This indicates your ancestors’ locations at about 500 to 1,000 years ago. This is based on population research results as of today. As AncestryDNA improve that research, AncestryDNA reruns your results to get improved results.

AncestryDNA currently classifies ethnicity into 26 regions.

The results can look different between you and your siblings. Remember the alphabet block diagram from my last article? You inherit different DNA from your parents than your siblings, so your ethnicity estimates can look very different.

Next time: DNA Matches.


  1. I am still trying to figure out how a DNA result that can differ radically between SIBLINGS and only tells you where your ancestors were 500-1000 years ago is going to be more than a very, very, VERY blunt tool. How does it help in finding extended family or breaking down walls? Frankly, I don't give a hoot about my general ethnicity--I am pretty sure it is British Isles--Welsh/English/Scots with some Dutch and German and maybe an Irish ancestor back there somewhere, based on my research. I doubt it will come out Fijian.

    So I did get the test--it is en route--but am I just being stupid. Again? The DNA test of my brother got us zip. Nada. Zilch. One possible 8th cousin. I could find an eighth cousin in my sleep.

  2. I think it depends in some part on how you plan to use it. No matter which testing company did your test, each of them provide for matching with others who tested. This can be especially powerful on Ancestry.com if you have your test attached to your tree. Not only do you get a listing of the DNA matches, but Ancestry will show you a shaky leaf if you and your match share a common ancestor. FamilyTreeDNA will show you matches but their tree function is not very robust.

    I've had quite good success with my DNA matches and have identified ancestors and cousins I didn't know I had.

  3. Thank you so much for this series!! I understand yDNA and mtDNA but the autosomal DNA had me really confused. As an ancestry,com subscriber I was offered test in beta for only $10 so I am not going to whine too much about how useless I felt it was. I do feel a little better now that I am reading your series; there may be some validity to it after all. I do want to whine about the people who take the test and either don't or won't provide a family tree--receiving info about a possible 2d cousin with nothing else--what good is that to to either of us?? Same complaint about the yDNA results I paid for for one of my cousins-- 25 or 37 marker matches and either the individual has not submitted any info or doesn't answer an email. Go figure---back to my original comment--I really do appreciate AI's short course!


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