September 30, 2009

A useful technique for data from Ancestry

In displaying names in its site, Ancestry groups the data from its testing into subgroups. Each subgroup has names that the server thinks are closely related to each other. It is helpful if you reorder the data in a subgroup to make your person the reference person for that subgroup. By doing this, the number of generations in the MRCA column will be relative to your person, and having your person at the top of the list makes it easier to visually compare the Y-DNA markers of your person with the markers of those who are most closely related to him.

Here is the procedure to make your person the reference for the subgroup.
  1. Place the mouse cursor on the name of your person. You will see a down arrow at the left of the name.
  2. Click the down arrow and select "Make this person the reference person"
The names in that subgroup will be reordered with your person at the top of the list, and all of the MRCA numbers will be relative to your person.

Another option is to change the View field at the top of the page to be "Sorted List" instead of "Genetic Subgroups (default)". This will remove the subgroups and will place all of the names in one list. You can make your person the reference person, as explained above, and you can check if persons in other subgroups are closely related to your person. However, this procedure does not reorder the list by MRCA number, and persons most closely related to your person will likely be scattered throughout the list. In addition, many of the MRCA numbers may be a dash (-) due, I assume, to the number being too large to fit in the field.

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