Marking DNA in Ancestry . com Trees

It has been suggested that humans are only capable of having 150 good friends at a time, see Dunbar’s Number. My AncestryDNA page tells me that I have over 669 4th cousins or less who have tested with Ancestry! How am I possibly going to become BFF with that many people?

“Finding the correct ancestral line for each piece of your DNA is a difficult process. Researching and documenting your family Tree is a difficult process. But these are the tasks we accept in genetic genealogy.” by Jim Bartlett

But that doesn’t mean that I will remember a 3rd or 4th cousin who lives in a distant state who I’ve never met with whom we solved our MRCA after a few emails. Even if the aging process was not at work, 150 does seem to be my limit. (Besides, I picked up new friends when joining MoCoGenSo so some old ones got booted!)

I hate to research lines previously solved. So I have taken to flagging cousins I place in my tree via a DNA match with pictures and text, similar to pebbles left by Hansel and Gretel. I want these pebbles to be visible and permanent in that they can be transferred by gedcom or syncable by software, not like breadcrumbs that are easily lost. Documentation that I can actually find later is critical.

For DNA confirmed Cousins

In the Profile of the person:

• Click into Gallery section and upload an icon similar to this. Then click into the Face display and make that icon default picture. 

• Click “View Notes” in upper menu bar beneath name. Create a note similar to this:
DNA match to Jim 189 cm / 9 segs

• In the Fact display, click on “Add” to add a Fact or Event. Scroll into the Event Type list to the DNA Markers item and click it. Ignore Date and location. Update the Description field with the same line as above Note.

When a Gedcom is downloaded from Ancestry, the Note will come across as type NOTE, the Marker will come across as type _DNA. Only the Note will be transferred when synching with RootsMagic, as the DNA Marker is not yet added to the Ancestry API. RootsMagic does pull the images. (Most programs will ignore the _DNA type gedcom record too. But I keep using it in case they ever do update the Gedcom standard!)

For Ancestors

For ancestors who are MRCA confirmed by DNA, click into Gallery section and upload an icon similar to this. Then click into the Face display and make that icon the default picture.

Note: for persons for whom we have a real face photo, always use it instead of these “marker” icons.
Note note: These are just personal views. Icons not required! But Notes are good. 🙂


“Have a healthy disregard for the impossible.” – Larry Page


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