How to make the most of your DNA results

 Peter Calver of LostCousins has a new edition of his DNA Masterclass. If you don't use LostCousins, you are missing out! And you don't even need DNA results for that. If you have UK or Canadian ancestry, you really do need to add as many ancestors and cousins to LostCousins as possible, if you want to connect with British cousins.

Distant Cousins are Gold

In this Masterclass, Mr. Calver points out how important distant cousins will be to you. He published a chart I've not seen before:

Based on Table 2 from: Henn BM, Hon L, Macpherson JM, Eriksson N, Saxonov S, Pe'er I, et al. (2012) Cryptic Distant Relatives Are Common in Both Isolated and Cosmopolitan Genetic Samples. PLoS ONE 7(4): e34267. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034267

Revised using Ancestry DNA estimates for the chances of detecting cousins and the expected number of 1st to 6th cousins for those of British ancestry; the numbers for 7th to 10th cousins are my own guesstimates

Calver leaves out steps that I do on Ancestry, but nobody *needs* to use the dots, or the little gizmo that connects your match to your tree. However, I find using both of them useful. 

Shared cM Project

Also, his post points to an older version of the Shared cM Project. See for more information about that. You will see the newest version on DNA Painter. There is also the option to try out the beta version there. And of course Blaine is still taking data from your own verified cousin and other relationships.

AncestryDNA Match List

On a different but related note, today I read and watched How to Download Your AncestryDNA Match List with Google Sheets. This has been made impossible for a while. However, a friend of Family History Fanatics has created a spreadsheet template which works! Read the blog post at, watch the video, and try it out! You can get a copy of the template for free, and export your data to excel if you prefer to work that way.

Work In Progress

When you are just beginning, it is hard, because you don't recognize any of your matches. Remember though, working with DNA data is just like any other aspect of genealogical research. As soon as you recognize one bit of information that will help you, that moves you to the next step, and the next. As soon as you have one cousin identified and in your tree, the shared matches with that cousin help identify them, and so on. The more you identify, the easier it becomes. When you reach a stalemate, it's time to take the next step, and hop out of the pond. Find fresh matches in other ponds.

Fish in ALL the Ponds

Learn how to download your gedcom, download your raw data, and upload elsewhere! We've written about this before, and it is still a very useful tactic. You never know where your most useful match tested, until you upload and find them. And now that even Geneanet has a chromosome browser, there is more incentive than ever to "fish in all the ponds."

Here are some posts which will help you enlarge your "cousin hunting grounds" and thus break down your ancestral brick walls.

Best of luck!

Valorie Cowan Zimmerman


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