the article and data that initiated the Ravenstonedale project
our project page on the Family Tree DNA website
Once your Family Finder test kit has been analysed, you will be able to log in to your personal page on the Family Tree DNA website to examine the results, using your kit number and the password - usually five or six numbers and capital letters - which will have been sent to you when you ordered the kit.
When you open your personal page, you will find a range of information on your Dashboard. To begin, click on 'Matches' in the Family Finder section. You can return to your Dashboard at any time by clicking on the 'myFTDNA' button at the top left of the page.
(click on the image to open a larger version)
This is the list of my own matches with the surname 'Adamthwaite' in their list of ancestral surnames (I have obscured names for privacy). I used the 'Ancestral Surnames' filter to select all the people in my list of 700+ matches who have included the Adamthwaite surname in their own list of surnames.
As you can see I have tested various members of my immediate family in addition to a 1st cousin, 3rd cousin and 6th cousin in the Ravenstonedale DNA Project, who all share my own Adamthwaite ancestry. This gives a good picture of how the amount of shared DNA reduces as the shared ancestry moves back each generation.
It is actually a lucky fluke that my Adamthwaite 6th cousin and I both inherited an identical unbroken 28.69 centiMorgan segment on Chromosome 9 from our shared 5xgt grandparents! Remarkably, my daughter also inherited the same unbroken segment.
The Matches button will bring up a list of everyone in the ftDNA database who matches enough of your DNA to be considered to be related to you within around six generations. The default view is to show all matches - the number of matches will vary from person to person, but you will probably have at least 500, and the number will grow each week, as more and more people submit their DNA! You can adjust the 'Relations' filter to restrict the list to various types of relationship, and there are other filters you can adjust.
It is a good idea to click on the 'show full view' button just above the name of your first match, as this opens up extra information and options underneath each of your Matches' main details (as shown in the example below) .
To start with, concentrate on the matches who are predicted to be most closely related to you. Under each of your matches' names are four symbols:
email - you can send an email to this person to tell them a bit more about your own ancestry and ask if they can spot any possible overlap, either in surnames or locations. I have become more wary about sharing TOO much information after foolishly sending a GEDCOM to one of my distant matches then discovering my entire family on a public tree on Ancestry (which the owner refuses to remove ... grrr!). Now I send a brief pedigree chart with no info about current generations at all and just hope that any information anyone extracts will at least be as accurate as I can make it.
make a note - click this symbol to jot down a record of any contact you have had with this person or ideas about possible connections
family tree - some people have uploaded a chart showing their ancestors - this can be very useful to determine if you share any common people or places, though if you decide to upload your own gedcom please make sure you make current generations private
common matches - if you click this symbol you will see a list of all those people who match (or don't match) both you and the person you are interested in. This operation may take a little while, but your patience will be rewarded! For example, I have a first cousin called Barbara who has taken a Family Finder test, and if I click the 'common match' button under her name I get a list of 60 people who match us both. From this, I know that all those people must match us along our shared line of ancestry ... that is they must be connected to the portion of my ancestry inherited from my paternal grandparents. We have already identified the connection to one 2nd cousin once removed who shares our DNA and I am in contact with several others.
Ancestral surnames You will also see that most people have helpfully added a list of the surnames (often with locations) of all the people in their family tree. If you have also provided a list of your own surnames - those which appear on both lists will appear in bold type at the start of the list (but ftDNA use a very wide range of soundex - so some may look very different!). To add your own ancestral surname list, click on the ftDNA symbol top left to return to your dashboard, then click 'manage personal information'. On this page are various tabs - including 'Genealogy' which has three sections: 'family tree', 'most distant ancestors' and 'surnames'. It is a very good idea to include the county AND country of your surnames, emphasising if they are in England, Ireland, Scotland, etc as many of your matches will be in the USA and may assume they come from a place of the same name in the States. The match list can be sorted by various filters, or searched for people with a specific name or ancestral surname.
Download Matches At the bottom of the list of matches you will see two buttons to use to download a list of your matches - I recommend you select 'show all matches' then try the Excel button. This will produce a spreadsheet containing everyone that currently matches you. The advantage of having the full list on a spreadsheet is that you can sort it any way you want! I find it a good idea to sort it by email address - because then you will spot if there is a group of matches that are all 'managed' by one person (in other words, a group like ours). The person at the other end of that email address will almost certainly be able to tell you how all your matches in their group are connected to each other - and that may be a clue to help you work out how you fit in to their group.
However - new results are added to the database almost every week - so your list will soon become out of date! I run a new one every four or five months.