Melanie is interested in genetics and genealogy. She also runs a YouTube channel: The Curious Coder.
Why You Should Connect Your DNA to a Family Tree
I wrote this guide to help my own DNA connections get the most out of both their DNA results and their known family tree. I hope it helps those on a journey to discover their roots.
Understanding how you're related to your DNA matches is key in understanding your own family tree (and how large it truly is!). If you're an owner, collaborator, or manager of an Ancestry DNA test, you can link DNA to a tree.
Linking your DNA to a family tree allows you to do a number of things that can help you understand how you're related to your connections and more! This is one of the most powerful parts of the Ancestry.com suite since analyzing these relationships can help you discover ancestors. And you can help your matches discover their heritage!
Tools You Can Use Once You've Connected Your DNA to Your Family Tree
- Shared Ancestor HInts
Common ancestors found in both your linked family tree and another user's family tree show up as a "shared ancestor hint."
How to Link a Tree
Step 1: Sign into your Ancestry.com account and click the DNA tab. A menu will drop down.
Step 2: Click on "Your DNA Results Summary" as shown in the image below.
Step 3: Select "Link to Tree" as shown in the image below.
Select your family tree from the drop-down menu. If you don't have a tree, you can create a new tree by clicking "+Start tree." You will want to confirm who you are in your family tree. This helps Ancestry's software calculate how you are related to other users.
There are two ways of doing this. Ancestry.com will first attempt to find you in your family tree. If they've found you, go ahead and click YES. If not, Ancestry gives you the option of manually searching for yourself in your family tree. Once you run your search, click your name and voila! Go ahead and click "Link to DNA," and you're done!
Note: Your DNA test results can only be linked to one family tree at a time.
Is Your Family Tree Public?
By making your family tree public, you're helping millions of users complete puzzles in their family trees. Whether it's an adoptee looking for his birth parents or someone trying to solve a 200-year-old puzzle, you are doing an amazing service by making your tree public. If you're worried about privacy, don't worry, those in your tree that are still living do not appear to anyone other than you!
How to Make Your Family Tree Public
Step 1: Sign into Ancestry.com and click on the "Trees" tab.
Step 2: A menu with drop down. Select your family tree. In the image below, I have selected my tree.
Step 3: Next to your tree name, there is a down arrow. Click it and select "Tree Settings."
Step 4: On the next page, select "Privacy Settings" as shown in the image below.
Step 5: This page explains the privacy settings. I encourage you to read over both private and public settings and select which is comfortable for you. I'm comfortable with having my tree set to public as my living relatives are hidden from other users. If you're comfortable with having a public tree, tick the "Public Tree" option and hit "Save Changes" at the bottom of the screen.
Now that you know your way around Ancestry.com a bit, I encourage you to play around. A few days after you change your settings, you'll notice some fun features added to your results page. Have fun researching your family tree. I hope you uncover some interesting history and get to know your ancestors.
If you know any information about Maxwell Palen (born 1816 in New York–perhaps in Ulster or Dutchess counties—specifically where exactly Maxwell was born or who his parents were, let me know! I would LOVE to complete this puzzle in my family tree!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: I would like to see the biological Thru Lines of my adopted daughter. She has had a DNA test with Ancestry.com. Presently her thru lines are from my ancestry, her adopted father. She is showing a DNA close match with either a first cousin or half-sibling. I have this first cousin/half-sibling in my tree and his parents also. But the Thru Lines for her is linking to my side of the family vs her 1st cousin/half-sibling. How can I get Thru Lines to show my adopted daughter's biological side on AncestryDNA?
Answer: Remove yourself and your spouse as her parents on her tree and you will be able to build Thrulines that are accurate for her. Unfortunately, Thrulines only works with a biological family tree.
© 2018 Melanie Shebel
David Warren from Nevada and Puerto Vallarta on July 23, 2018:
Thank you for the interesting article. Years ago a family member that absolutely loves Ancestry.com sent me a DNA kit at their expense. Your article prompted me to look at the site again.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on July 23, 2018:
That was really useful to read. I have a tree on Ancestry. Though I've not been on there for a while, so really should get back on there and updating it.