Thoughts on Groups at AncestryDNA

There are not always wrong and right answers. Some times there are only suggestions.

That’s how I feel partially about the groups that can be used at AncestryDNA to facilitate match analysis. There are a few things I feel are pretty much hard and fast “you should do this” things:

  • Name groups consistently–the ordering of words in the group name, abbreviations used, and name structure.
  • Name groups so they will sort in a way that makes sense to you–groups are displayed in many AncestryDNA screens in alphabetical order.
  • Keep a list of how the groups are assigned for a test so that you know (to me some of the colors look exceedingly similar)

Many other ideas, using similar colors for the same general branch of the family, breaking the matches up by great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, etc. are all suggestions that may work for some and may not work for others. This partially stems from what you know about the testee and their ancestral background.

How you want to use the groups also depends upon what it is you are trying to do. Initially I used the groups to tag shared matches with known descendants of my Irish immigrant great-great-grandparents. That made it easier for me to keep track of those matches in an attempt to sift out more of my DNA matches who were connected with me through my Irish ancestors.

My maternal ancestors are all pretty much endogamous and my cousins on that side of the family are often related to me in more than one way with a connection that only stretches back five or six generations. For that reason, it made sense to me to group with the same “dot” any maternal match. For me, that’s a quick sorting mechanism. I have another test I administer where the testee is one-fourth French-Canadian. One of my group dots is for anyone who matches known relatives on that side of the family. Then when I encounter one of those matches, I immediately know that they are somehow related on that lineage.

It’s helpful to read about how others have used the groups to get ideas. But remember…what works for one may not work for someone else.


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