It’s almost Valentine’s Day and we have a gift from MyHeritage – two gifts actually.
First, MyHeritage is offering free access for everyone to all marriage records, including international records, through February 16th, here.
New Theories of Family Relativity
However, from a genetic genealogy perspective, MyHeritage‘s new Theories of Family Relativity (TOFR) results are a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift.
The email that I received indicates that the total theories produced for everyone in the database has increased by 19%, from 33,373,070 to 39,845,078 in just 5 months, and the number of DNA testers who have at least one TOFR has increased by 20%.
If you didn’t have Theories before, you may now. If you did have Theories before, you will want to check for new ones.
What Generates New Theories?
Of course, some of this increase is due to the holiday tests that are now available for matching in the system.
Some new Theories are a result of people who have uploaded or constructed trees who didn’t have trees before.
Some new Theories are because people have linked their DNA to a tree where it was not previously linked. If your DNA kit is not associated with “you” on a tree, the system has no way of knowing “who” you are in your tree, and therefore can’t generate theories about how you are related to other testers.
If you don’t have TOFRs, check and make sure that your kit is assigned to “you” on your tree. Under the DNA tab, select “Manage DNA Kits” and check to be sure all of the kits that you manage are properly assigned.
I’m anxious to see what’s new for me.
MyHeritage completed the previous TOFR run in September 2020, so just shy of 5 months ago. At that time, I had a total of 67 matches with Theories. Today, I have a total of 73 for an increase of 8%.
You can check to see how many Theories you have by clicking on the DNA Match “Filters” then the “Theories of Family Relativity” option which displays only matches that have associated Theories. Follow the red arrows.
You can also review each Theory by clicking on Review DNA Match, which includes other information about that match.
I can quickly see which theories are new and I haven’t worked with before because I make notes when I have a new theory. When you have recorded a note, the little “conversation” icon is purple. You can see that with the green arrow, above.
Enabling Theories to Form
Like everyone else, I want more Theories to form, so I’ve intentionally been fleshing out the branches of my tree to encourage TOFR formation.
Theories are formed for people with whom you are a DNA match if one or more of the following conditions occur:
- Your tree and their tree can be connected directly.
For example, let’s say our common ancestor is three generations back in time meaning we share great-grandparents, but my match has only their grandparents entered – nothing more. I have entered our common ancestor and all of their children in my tree, including the grandparents of my match.
My Heritage connects-the-dots between our trees through the grandparents of my match who appear in both trees.
- Your tree and your match’s tree can be connected through other people’s trees.
Using this same example, let’s say that my match and I both have only entered our individual grandparents in our trees. A third person in the system has a tree that includes our common ancestor, our great-grandparents. The third person’s tree includes my match’s grandparent and my grandparent too.
Again, MyHeritage connects-the-dots between the three trees, making multiple “hops.”
Here’s one of my new Theories that connects me and the other tester through two separate tree connection “hops” with very high confidence, 100%, that the identical people are being connected.
MyHeritage generated 5 possible paths of connection for this match using different trees, so be sure to take a look at all different theories for each match. You’ll see those on the upper left-hand corner of the TOFR page.
- Your tree and your match’s tree can be connected using some combination of trees and documents.
Let’s say that my match has only entered their grandparents. I have our common ancestors, our great-grandparents in my tree, but I don’t have their grandparent listed as the child of my (our) great-grandparents. MyHeritage may find a census record, for example, that connects those dots.
Multiple theories through different pathways may be suggested for the same match – and it’s important to evaluate every piece of data. They are called Theories for a reason. They aren’t always accurate, but they make great hints and, for me, they are generally either correct or close. Close enough that I can figure out the rest.
Priming the Pump
What can you do to help Theories form, aside from testing, uploading or creating a tree, and linking your DNA kit to “you” in your tree?
- Add descendant generations to your tree with as much information as you have for each person including spouse, birth and death dates and locations, in addition to children. The further down the branches you populate your tree, the more information there is for MyHeritage to use to connect the branches.
MyHeritage generates both Smart Matches and Record Matches for every person in your tree. MyHeritage will notify you via email when Smart or Record matches are generated. That’s how I found over 800 newspaper records for my grandfather’s family containing juicy information I never knew – and there’s no other way to find out today.
You can view each category on the person’s profile card. Hmmm, looks like I need to get busy😊
Additional ways to help Theories form include:
- Accept SmartMatches when appropriate. SmartMatches are tree matches generated to confirm that the person in question is the same person. That doesn’t mean the information has to match exactly. Accepting a SmartMatch doesn’t mean that information will be automatically imported into your tree. You will be able to select each individual field, or no fields at all. Confirmation simply means you agree that this IS the same person, and you are then given the option to import information if you wish.
- Reject SmartMatches if the suggestion is actually the wrong person. This helps the system “learn.”
- Confirm Record Matches if they are accurate. Record matches are generated when physical records or records from other databases are generated for an individual in your tree. Like Smart Matches, you can import data from Record Matches after confirming the match.
- Reject Record Matches if they are not for the same person in your tree.
Test or Transfer, Either One
Of course, you’ll only have TOFRs at MyHeritage if you’ve tested or transferred your DNA.
You can order a test now for only $59 during the Valentine’s Day Sale, here, or you can transfer your DNA to MyHeritage from either Ancestry, 23andMe or FamilyTreeDNA which includes matching and basic tools at MyHeritage for free. The advanced tools including Theories of Family Relativity cost $29 per test to unlock unless you are a paid MyHeritage subscriber – in which case, advanced DNA features are free for any upload and there is no unlock fee. You can try a free MyHeritage trial subscription, here.
After you take a DNA test at MyHeritage or transfer, you’ll need to wait for the next TOFR run to have Theories, but if you test or transfer now and create or upload a tree, you’ll be the recipient of Theories the next time they are generated. You’ll also have time to work on fleshing out your tree and working with Smart Matches and Record Matches to learn more about your ancestors and to increase the odds of obtaining Theories.
You can order a DNA test, here, and you can transfer to MyHeritage, here. If you need assistance, I’ve written step-by-step transfer instructions, here.
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I like looking through the relativity theories but I have a recurring problem with ones going back through my dad’s maternal line. If they use Family Search information I always end up with the incorrect great grandmother. There is a woman with the same first, middle and last name as my grandmother. Her birthday, husband’s name, children’s names, residence and death date are totally different. I’ve spoken to someone at My Heritage and several at Family Search and double checked my information at both sites. Whoever entered the information at Family Search got the other woman’s tangled up with mine. So now when I get a notice about a new theory I quickly check who it relates to and I ignore it if is for my dad’s mom’s people. It’s aggravating but I’ve spent enough time trying to straighten it out.
Great blog and update. MyHeritage continuously is improving their website and tools. I would think also that their “Instant Discoveries” would also increase and improve your Theories.
Yes, I would think you’re right too.
Instant Discoveries are great for telling me about stuff I already know and have in my tree. (And stuff that lots of people have been misled by.) I am still waiting for the very first Instant Discovery that is actually a discovery.
But great for someone starting out.
As long as they take them as hints.
Thank you for letting us know about this! Meanwhile, I just stumbled upon an entry from The Virginia Genealogist, Volume 1, Number 4. Even though I don’t believe this Richard Estes is in your direct line, perhaps this could be useful at some point:
Per Extracts from The Virginia Gazette, 1755-1756:
“Richard Estes, living on Goldmine Creek in Louisa County, advertises a horse taken up by him.”
Have a nice weekend!
Thank you for thinking of me.
Thanks for this blog post. I knew there was a way to see just the matches with TOFR, but couldn’t for the life of me figure out where it was hidden. Hopefully I’ll remember it, now! Of course with only 5 theories for myself, I feel like Charlie Brown on Halloween only getting rocks . . .
You certainly do need some siblings of your main pedigree line to get ToFR, and preferably some of their offspring as well. I used to have ToFRs and then I slimmed my tree back to a bare pedigree and they all disappeared at the next ToFR update.
At the very least it will make your ToFRs more reliable.
How often are the theories updated? Will I get them immediately upon signing up to premium?
No. They are run every few weeks. Like every 3 months or so.
I have Theories of Family Relativity for myself on my paid account on DNA I transferred in 2018. On Feb. 26, during RootsTech this year, I uploaded several kits to myheritage and they do show up as matches to me. I’ve tried following your detailed instructions, but to no avail. After 4 months, none of these kits have TOFR. When I called last month, I was told the Theories should be showing up later that month. The answer to my latest call to support today was that not everyone is guaranteed to get the Theories. Thinking he may have meant not everyone has Theories because of a lack of matches, I asked if I have Theories, shouldn’t my nephew at least have those as well? I was told that has nothing to do with it. I was advised to wait and see if eventually the kits have Theories, but they’re not guaranteed. He also said something about they were trying to grow their database, so that’s why the offer was extended for uploads. I’m beginning to wonder if I missed something like we were able to upload for free, but those kits weren’t eligible for Theories.
No. They only run Theories every few months. You won’t have any until they run them again. Be sure they have trees or they won’t get theories.
MyHeritage just told me if I import a new tree and attach my DNA to it, I’ll never get Theories of Relativity again! Roberta, I think I remember reading a blog about updating your trees at different sites with a suggested process. Can you point me to that article again? (I’ve searched and cannot find it.)
You will get Theories but not until they run their algorithm again. I have not replaced my tree. I have too many notes and attachments. https://dna-explained.com/2020/11/10/genealogy-tree-replacement-should-i-or-shouldnt-i/