Ancestry launched Genetic Communities last week. “Think of the AncestryDNA ethnicity estimates on steroids, and you’ll have a sense of what this is,” Tim Sullivan told RootsTech attendees last February. While ethnicity estimates show your genetic origins from hundreds to thousands of years ago, the Genetic Communities feature shows groups of people you are related to in the last few hundred years. Ancestry defines a Genetic Community as “a group of people who are connected to each other through DNA, most likely because they share a common history or lived in the same places.”
Kendall Hulet said, “Applying rigorous statistics and scientific development, we’ve created a unique experience that can connect you through your DNA to places your ancestors called home and the migration paths they followed to get there.” This doesn’t necessarily pin your particular ancestors to a particular place, since your ancestor may have been an outlier. Chances are good, however, that Ancestry will nail part of your ancestry to a particular region and timeframe.
AncestryDNA has identified over 300 communities with plans to release more in the future. Brad Argent of AncestryUK says that most people are members of at least one Genetic Community, some people are members of two, and, rarely, some are members of three. In my case, I am a member of one.
My ethnicity map now shows my ethnicity estimates on a dark azure map. (Can I just say, I don’t like this new color scheme?) Notice that Ancestry has narrowed (not!) my Native American ancestry to the entire Western hemisphere. Not very helpful in determining my tribal origin (Massachuset).
But notice the small Orange spot on Utah? That’s my genetic community, “Mormon Pioneers in the Mountain West.”
While my genetic community is of no surprise to me (I’m 5th generation Mormon on every single line—my ancestors all being good genealogists—I was born into a completely full, 7-generation pedigree), a Genetic Community could be very interesting to someone vaguely aware of—say—Germanic roots.
Your Genetic Communities are listed beneath your ethnicity pie chart on the left side of the page. The way statistics work, AncestryDNA can’t say with 100% confidence that you are a member of a community.
When you click on your community, you are given an overview of the community.
Scrolling past the overview reveals migration time periods with commentary.
Selecting a time period shows a migration map, different for each time period. Orange dots show birthplaces from community members’ Ancestry Trees during that time period. Pins show birthplaces from your own tree. Animated lines show the direction of migration.
Did you notice, I’m aboot one-fourth Canadian, eh?
Beneath the community name, two buttons select between the default Story view, which I’ve shown above, and Connection view. Connection view states that they are 95% confident that I am a member of the Mormon Pioneers Genetic Community, and that it has 89,000 members. Connection view provides a link to see all 737 of the ones that I am related to. It also lists common surnames in the community:
Hmmm. Anything jump out at you?
To see Genetic Communities, you don’t need to have a tree or a paid Ancestry subscription. It is available for free to everyone who has had an AncestryDNA test.