Relatives at RootsTech is back and I’m so very glad to see it.
Let me show you how to use this wonderful tool, including tips for how to get even more out of the experience.
It’s important to start now to accumulate your cousins, because there’s a display limit of 300 in each category, so you’ll want to begin recording your findings so that as more people sign up and are added to your list, you don’t “lose” the earlier relatives.
Let’s start with my link. Click here.
You’ll be prompted to sign in to your FamilySearch account, or create one. If you don’t have an account, create one now.
Right now, the number of participants is doubling every few days.
Let’s take a look at how Relatives at RootsTech works and how it can benefit you.
At first glance, the surname tool doesn’t look terribly exciting, but there’s a hidden gem, especially for newer genealogists.
I entered my surname and one other, knowing there is probably no common locations other than the US. Kvochick is very rare and unique.
The results show two interesting things. First, the genesis of the surname, and second, the total number of people in the FamilySearch tree in both of the common locations for both surnames.
Be sure to try variant spellings too.
After you sign in, you’ll be asked to update your profile which is how you join in on the fun. If you signed up for Relatives at RootsTech last year, that doesn’t count for this year. You need to opt-in for this year’s festivities.
After you sign in, you’ll see how many of your relatives have joined.
Of the 60,461 total who have joined, according to the FamilySearch tree, I’m related to about 15% of them. That sure gives new perspective to how many people we’re related to. And just think if those brick walls didn’t exist. We’d be related to just about everyone. Far enough back, we’re all related, literally.
Your Relatives at RootsTech are displayed in three ways.
By location, ancestor or family line.
Relatives by Location
Your first view will be by all locations (including people who did not select a location,) but displayed in closest to most distant relationship order. For me, that’s the most interesting part.
These people, my closest relatives, are the people most likely to have critical pieces of information that I don’t have or know about. Like family stories, or photos, for example.
I know one of these people, but not the rest. I’m dying to know who they are and how we are related.
For me, the map itself isn’t terribly useful, but it would be if some members of your family were from distinct locations.
Not everyone opts in to have their location displayed. The “173” in the center is the people who generically selected United States.
Relatives by Family Line
The Family Line display shows you the number of people by parent or grandparent. Unfortunately, you can only view 300 of your matches in each line, which is disappointing.
However, there’s a better way to view your relatives.
Relatives by Ancestor
For me, the best way to view relatives is by ancestor. This also circumvents the 300 limit to some extent, unless you have more than 300 relatives for any one ancestor.
I have two relatives who also descend from Curtis Benjamin Lore. It’s Jen and Jill again, my closest relatives.
I’m quite interested in these people, because Curtis is my great-grandfather and he was a very interesting man. I know Jen and Jill are interested in genealogy too, or they would not have signed up for RootsTech Relatives, this year, in the past few days. This is not a stale list.
I’ll be messaging them as soon as I’m finished with this article!!!
Please note that FamilySearch does not label half-relationships accurately.
Jen and Jill are my HALF second cousins twice removed, which will affect the expected amount of shared DNA. Their ancestors, Edith and Maude were half-sisters through their father, not full sisters. One of the reasons I’m so interested in communicating with Jen and Jill is because I’m not at all sure that those half-sisters knew each other existed.
For each relative found, you can view your relationship, message them, or add them to your contact list. Be aware – your contact list “saves” this person, but it does not tell you how you’re related. That’s where either a Word document, with screen shots of how you’re related, or a spreadsheet where you can detail that information is important.
If you have messaged people in the past, those messages are still in your message box in the upper right-hand corner.
I generally provide my email address when I message relatives.
Displaying the Relationship
If you click on the “Relationship” button, you’ll see how FamilySearch believes you’re related to each match.
My relationship with an Acadian cousin, beginning with our common ancestor, is shown above. Grab a screen shot so you can remember. I drop them into a spreadsheet or Word document.
These matches are based on FamilySearch’s one world type of tree. I don’t have to tell you to be cautious because, like any tree, there are erroneous connections. This connection, at least on my side (left hand,) seems to be accurate. I don’t have Jeanne Chebrat’s second marriage to Jehan Piorier in my file, so I’ll need to check that out. Many times FamilySearch, WikiTree, Ancestry, or MyHeritage has connected documents or sources. In this case, here’s the WikiTree entry for Jeanne.
See, I’ve found something interesting already.
Search for People
On the toolbar, if you click on the right arrow, you’ll notice there’s one more option – Search.
If you think one your cousins might be attending, either virtually or in person, you can search by surname. I entered Estes out of curiosity.
This is quite interesting, because some other poor soul is also named Roberta Estes. You KNOW I’ll be messaging her. I’m pretty sure I know who this is, because we’ve been getting mixed up for years. Unless, of course there are actually three of us interested in genealogy.
However, where this Search option really shines is if you’re looking for males who descend from a particular line as candidates for Y-DNA testing.
I suggest doing this name search for each surname in your tree.
The Share Button is Critically Important
Sharing is the key to encouraging people to participate.
This button on the main page is how I generated the link for you to use to see if we’re related.
There’s a “Share” button in several locations. However, you’ll want to be sure you know exactly what you’re sharing. In some cases, it will be the surname comparison information or other information that you’re viewing.
However, on the bottom of your Relatives pages, Share will generate a message link to/through several programs or apps so people can sign in to see if they are related to you.
You can also just copy the link and send it to someone in a text message or otherwise.
If you generate a message to share, you’ll see what will be posted, so you’ll know for sure exactly what you’re sharing. I wanted to post the link for my friends on Facebook to see if we are related, and that’s exactly what was generated.
If you follow the link to see if we are related, be sure to tell me, or anyone else whose link you follow.
Next, Connect with DNA
Relatives for RootsTech is a wonderful segway into DNA testing.
Remember, with the 300-relative limit, different searches will produce different results including people that won’t be included due to the 300 limit in other searches. Be creative and search in multiple ways. Add your relatives to your spreadsheet or Word document, then record whether they’ve DNA tested, at which vendor(s) and if you match there.
There are various ways to utilize Relatives at RootsTech for DNA.
- Y-DNA candidates for the direct paternal line for males – The Search by surname can provide you with Y-DNA testing candidates. They may already have tested their Y-DNA with FamilyTreeDNA or their autosomal DNA with at least one vendor, so just message them and ask. Tell them which databases you’re in. Viewing Relatives by Ancestor can be very useful for this same purpose, especially if you have multiple unrelated lines with the same surname.
- Mitochondrial DNA – the Relatives by Ancestor tool is very useful for locating mitochondrial DNA testing candidates, especially since you can easily see how they are descended from your common ancestor. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from women through all females to the current generation, which can be male or female. Any of your cousins, of either sex, are candidates so long as they descend from your target ancestor through all females.
- DNA Pedigree Chart – If you’re building your own DNA Pedigree Chart with the Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA of each ancestral line, consider offering a DNA testing scholarship to people who carry those lines that are missing in your DNA Pedigree Chart.
- Testing Candidates – Anyone is a good candidate for autosomal testing. No second cousin or closer has ever not matched. Ask your cousins if they have tested and tell them which DNA databases you are in. Furthermore, suggest that they upload their DNA to FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage for free to utilize their tools and find matches that aren’t in the other databases. GEDmatch isn’t a testing company, but is another free database where you may find people who tested at Ancestry. Unfortunately, Ancestry does not provide segment information for matching or painting, so hopefully you’ll be able to find your Ancestry matches elsewhere.
- Databases – Be sure you’re in all of the databases (Ancestry, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage and GEDmatch) so you can be found and you can find your relatives.
- DNAPainter – If you’re painting your segments at DNAPainter, you can paint your matching segments from 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage or GEDmatch. Ancestry is the only vendor that does not provide matching segment information for their customers.
- DNA Search – If your cousin has used their actual name when registering at FamilySearch, sort by ancestor, then search your DNA matches at the various vendors for that cousin’s name. The beauty of Relatives at RootsTech is that the relationship is already sorted by ancestor, so that piece of the puzzle has already been assembled for you, which is exactly the opposite of most DNA matches. Of course, this does not preclude errors or connections through multiple ancestors.
Limited Time – March 31 is the End
If I had a FamilySearch genie and could get one wish, it would be that they would leave Relatives for RootsTech up and available until the next RootsTech. I need time to work on these relationships.
However, that’s not the case, and Relatives for RootsTech ends on March 31st.
Therefore, it’s important to begin building your spreadsheet, or however you’re going to record your relatives, NOW. Check your list often so none of those precious matches will roll off of your list and become unavailable. Access to the complete relative match list, meaning no 300 limit would be my second wish from the FamilySearch genie.
To preserve the ability to communicate with your relatives, message them now or at least add them to your contact list – WITH A NOTE IN YOUR SPREADSHEET AS TO HOW YOU’RE RELATED. Otherwise, that information will not be available after March 31st.
You’ll want to use the same spreadsheet from year to year, as some of the relatives signing up this year probably did last year too.
Ready, Set, Relatives at RootsTech
Have fun. Be sure to let me know if we’re related and how!!!
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DNA Purchases and Free Uploads
- FamilyTreeDNA– Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA testing
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Genealogy Products and Services
- MyHeritage FREE Tree Builder– Genealogy software for your computer
- MyHeritage Subscription with Free Trial
- Legacy Family Tree Webinars– Genealogy and DNA classes, subscription-based, some free
- Legacy Family Tree Software– Genealogy software for your computer
- com– Search newspapers for your ancestors
- NewspaperArchive– Search different newspapers for your ancestors
- DNA for Native American Genealogy– by Roberta Estes, for those ordering the e-book from anyplace, or paperback within the United States
- DNA for Native American Genealogy– for those ordering the paperback outside the US
- Genealogical.com– Lots of wonderful genealogy research books
- Legacy Tree Genealogists– Professional genealogy research