A few days ago, I received a message from 23andMe that a new feature, “Your DNA Family” was ready to view. I decided to take a look. You’ll find this feature under the Reports, then Ancestry Reports tab.
The first part of the screen shows how many matchs of different types that I have. This report includes only people who have opted in to share through DNA Relatives.
I have tested on both the V3 chip and the V4 chip. I’m utilizing the V3 results for this article, but it is interesting to note that I have 1436 V4 chip results, as compared to 1440 V3 results, above. The number of matches is almost exactly the same. However, the numbers in the various categories below between the two tests (V3 vs V4) are sometimes significantly different, so these are clearly not (all) the same people who have agreed to share on both platforms. You can read more about the V3 and V4 comparison here.
On the page above, the “learn more” link explains about degrees of cousinhood.
Scrolling down, the next section shows you a map of the location of your DNA Relatives.
The part I find the most interesting is that the places where I have the most relatives do not include the state where I was born or where my parents were born. My mother’s family was from the Netherlands and Germany before immigrating to Indiana in the US, except for one grandfather who was Acadian. In the Midwest, Indiana is darker than the rest on the map, but I only have 25 relatives there. My father was born in Tennessee with only 15 matches. Of course, the fact that my matches live in those locations today does not mean our common ancestor is one of my Hoosier or Tennessee ancestors, but it’s a good place to start looking.
Conversely, I have 110 relatives that live in California and 65 in Texas. Texas was a destination location for the people of Appalachia, so that makes some sense. My great-grandfather died in Texas in 1895, having walked from Tennessee, twice.
From the looks of things, California was a destination location for everyone! I have more matches in California than any another state, by almost double. I have to wonder if the fact that 23andMe is a California company has something to do with how many Californians have tested.
“Click here” shows you the top 10 locations in a table.
It’s interesting to note that my proven 39% German and Dutch combined is no place to be seen. The Dutch and most of the Germans were immigrants in the mid-1800s – so there is no question about the accuracy of these immigrants. 23andMe did not test outside the US for a very long time, and when they did, the shipping cost almost as much as the test itself which discouraged international testers.
Scrolling down again, we see the Ancestry Composition breakdown of my DNA Relatives.
For a minute I was all excited, hoping that I could then click on one of the ancestral regions and see which of my matches include that region, but that’s not the case. Believe me, I tried clicking everyplace☹
Of course, just because someone that I match also has some amount of Native American or other common ancestry, that doesn’t mean that’s how we match, but it might well be a clue.
Scrolling down again, we see how our DNA Relatives compare to the rest of the 23andMe data base in a few categories.
For me, this falls into a time-waster category and causes me to ask myself, “why do I care?” I suspect this is included in the hope that people will find it interesting and will therefore answer these rather innocuous questions posed by 23andMe, along with more that are health related.
There certainly isn’t anything wrong with this information. It’s not misleading in any way like the last feature to be released, their Ancestry Timeline.
The DNA Family information is at best lukewarm and leaves me more than a tad disappointed.
I think at least two aspects have potential, but today, it’s like 23andMe showed us the teaser to the movie with no way to see the movie itself.
I would like to see which of my DNA Relatives fall into the following two categories:
- Location – state and country
- Ancestry Composition category
In other words, I want to know which of my matches are from Indiana, and which have Native American ancestry, for example. I’d like to know if there is an intersection between those or any two groups too.
I could find absolutely no way to utilize the Ancestry Composition categories, but I thought I had figured out how to detect at least some of the location matches.
Going to my the DNA Relatives page, I entered the word “Indiana” into the “Search keywords” and pressed enter, which returned 36 DNA Relatives. Granted, that’s not 25, as shown on the map, but it does return information based on something and that something might be useful. I wish we knew where 23andMe is retrieving this data from so we know how to interpret what it means.
Next, I tried the keyword “Germany.” The search returned 76 results, but Germany was not among the locations where my DNA Relatives were shown to live – so the answer is that whatever is being shown utilizing the search keywords, it’s not the tester’s location so does not connect to the map location results.
The DNA Family Report earns a shrug and a “Meh.” Now, if testers could view which of their DNA Relatives matched them in those categories, I’d have to upgrade the shrug and meh to something a little more exciting. I sometimes look at where and how the vendors invest their development dollars and wonder what the heck they were thinking.
For genealogy, this new feature simply isn’t useful.
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