MyHeritage continues to release improvements to their DNA product that are meant to both enhance our experience with their website, and also make it easier to do our genetic genealogy work. Just this week they announced the addition of new filters for their match page, and a bit of a redesign. The small redesign includes moving the ethnicity estimate into a tab right next to the DNA matches tab, and adding an Overview tab.
For any relatives who you have convinced to test, but who only show a passing interest in the actual genetic genealogy research, this Overview tab is a great way to show them their results without overwhelming them. There is a simple rundown of the ethnicity results, and then matches are broken up by relationship level and location.
It is this location feature that will most interest the casual investigator, as well as the serious researcher. This filter lets you see the current location (note: NOT the birth location, though according to the My Heritage blog post they plan to add birth location in a future update) of your DNA matches. Now of course, this isn’t an active GPS that is spying on your match, but this tool relies on the location that your match has listed as their location in their MyHeritage account.
First, it is interesting just to scroll through all of the listed countries and see the variety of locations where your DNA is currently residing. Just think about that for a second: If you are DNA matching with someone in Germany, that means that you are sharing some exact pieces of DNA with someone in Germany, which means that a little bit of you, is actually there. This can make for an interesting exercise when you compare this list of match locations to the locations listed in your ethnicity results. Remember that your ethnicity results can represent your ancestral locations recently, or a very long time ago. So if you see locations on your match list that also appear in your ethnicity results, this might be a good indication that the overlapping location might actually belong in your genealogy. Or the absence of overlap might help you weed out those ethnicities that were thousands of years ago. For example, if you see that your ethnicity results list you as 2% Greek, but you don’t have any DNA matches in Greece, this could mean that your connection to this location is before genealogical time. Of course, it could also mean that the right people from Greece haven’t tested yet, so don’t get too caught up in these deductions.
The last section in the Overview, and the last filter for your match list, shows you how many of your matches are reporting at least 10% of various ethnicities. This might be helpful if you are working your Irish lines, as you can click on Irish, Scottish, and Welsh and see all of your DNA matches who report at least 10% in the Irish, Scottish and Welsh category.
Another powerful way to use the filters at MyHeritage is to combine them. On the main match page, you can click on two different filters to further refine your results. So perhaps if you are looking for your Irish ancestor, you might click on the Irish location filter, and then also on the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh ethnicity filter. This will give you all your matches who currently live in Ireland, and who score at least 10% in the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh category.
Of course, the matches that show up after all the filtering aren’t necessarily worth your time or attention. Begin by taking a quick look at how much shared DNA you have. You will want to be sure that you share at least 20 cM before you go spending too much time scouring their pedigree charts for evidence of a shared ancestor.
Likely these filters will continue to improve over time. One thing I would like to see is the ability to use the relationship filter to isolate third cousins, instead of always lumping them with the distant cousins. Most of us don’t have very mysteries in the Extended Family (1st cousins once removed – 2nd cousins once removed) category, so I don’t find this filter to be very useful. Instead, they should let filter our best third and fourth cousins out from the rest of our distant matches. Hopefully MyHeritage can make some refinements in those categories, and thereby make their powerful idea of a two-pronged filter even more effective.
Originally published on July 2018 on genealogygems.com.