Tuesday, March 10, 2015

AncestryDNA Helper extension for the Chrome browser

I don't often find a product that I love so much that I have to sing it praises but for the AncestryDNA Helper extension, I am making the exception.

Why do I love this product, basically because it took a task that I was trying to do manually and made it automatic. PLUS ... it added another aspect to the project that I didn't know how to do but wanted to do.

First of all, let me explain what I was trying to do with my AncestryDNA results. I was trying to figure out my mother's heritage. My mother died back in 2002 and a few years after her death, I confirmed that she was born before her parent's married and thus I questioned if her father was her biological father. I end up contacting the State of Wisconsin Child Services and confirmed that she was adopted by her step father (her mother's husband) but not until after she turned 18 years old and needed to submit her birth certificate to enroll in College. This is when my mother first found out and she never breathed a word of it to any of her nine children. Wisconsin is a closed adoption state and will not release her father's name without due cause. It is kind of silly since all the parties involved are deceased and it would be nice to know my heritage since I have been doing my genealogy for over 30 years.

Anyway, my mother was married twice, her first husband died and left her a widow with six children, she later married my father and had three more, with me being the youngest. Therefore I thought I would compare some of my siblings DNA with my DNA. I tested my oldest half brother and my youngest-older half sister along with one of my full sisters. I was inputting the results of our matches into a spreadsheet and then running a formula that compared my results against my siblings. It would compare the two columns and produce a report of all the matches in a third column. I ran this report as follows: ME vs my full sister, ME vs my half brother, ME vs my half sister, my full sister vs my half brother, my full sister vs my half sister and finally my half brother vs my half sister.

I was doing this all manually and you can see where there is room for data entry errors, because if I didn't type in the name of the tester exactly the same, it would not match. AncestryDNA Helper now can do that list for me and compare my list against my siblings. It does all the names, not just the few pages I was doing because it was such a big project.

Conclusions I came across are as follows: Matches of ME vs my half-siblings are probably my mother's ancestors. Matches of my full sister vs my half-siblings are probably my mother's ancestors. Matches of ME vs my full sister that don't match my half-siblings are more likely my father's ancestors but still could be my mother's ancestors and matches of half-siblings that don't match me or my full sister are more likely their father's ancestors but sill could be my mother's ancestors.

At least this gave me a spot to start my looking at the matches between ME and my full sisters vs my half-siblings. However, the hard part was to determine what might be my mother's biological family line. I was able to determine some of the lines through my mother's mother's family and that was real exciting. However, there were so many tree's that I didn't recognize names and wondered if they had any common names among all these trees that lead me to my mother's father's family. This is were AncestryDNA Helper has taken these matches one step further. It has a feature called "Ancestors of Matches". It has an Incidence Score which is the number of times the exact same name with a similar birth year from different DNA matches occurs in this ancestors list. This can help you discover clusters of matches who all share the same common ancestors. Maybe you link up to those people somewhere in that same family or maybe it's just a coincidence but this might open up branches of your tree you haven't discovered yet.

To find out more information about this FREE extension, you read this correct, it is FREE at the following websites: http://www.itstime.com/AncestryDNAHelper.htm and http://www.itstime.com/download/AncestryDNAHelper_HowToUse.pdf

Now the scan can take a while, it took about 3 hours for each tester, but considering the time I was spending keying in all the names, running the excel matching formulas myself  and it was only on a few pages of matches, I will take the computer doing the work over me any day. Plus for those of you who want to thank the creator for this wonderful tool, you can via PayPal. I am sending him a thank you contribution too, something I have never done before either.

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