If you have joined any of the Projects at FTDNA, hopefully you’re getting matches or will soon. Maybe an administrator or another project member has contacted to let you know of a previously unknown 3rd cousin who is also in the project. Maybe you’ve run a Match Report yourself. Maybe you’ve joined a project but have no idea if you have any matches within the group. If so, here are a few tips to help you start finding that information and putting that it to work.
As the administrator of the geographical Iowa DNA Project, I usually run a Family Finder Project Match report for all new members about once a week. When I find a match, the new member and their matches are notified and supplied with some basic information, including the length of longest shared segment and predicted relationship range. As the Iowa DNA Project is focused on Family Finder results, this is the most basic data members need to decide where to focus their energy and to start sleuthing out connections.
If your project administrator doesn’t notify you of Family Finder matches, or you would like to check them yourself, you can easily access the information. Go to your Welcome Page, or DASHBOARD, and in the Family Finder section click on ADVANCED MATCHES:
Next, click the box that restricts the database search to Family Finder Results, choose your project from the drop down menu, and click RUN REPORT:
You will then receive a report similar to this, and you will not need to search for your matches within your Family Finder Match list. Simply click on their names or the icons beside their names to see their tree, send an email etc.
However, if your project admin or someone else has sent you the name of a match, the simplest way to access the information that can lead to a connection is to search in your Family Finder Match list. To do this, go to your Welcome Page, or DASHBOARD, and click on MATCHES in the Family Finder section.
From your Family Finder Match List click on NAME and a box will appear. Fill in a name of your match of interest:
You may wish to enter only the surname, as sometimes folks change their profile by adding a middle name, removing a first name or some other alteration that throws off the search function.
In this case, two people share the surname I searched, and they are both members of the project. From the list, I can gather their email address, see their family trees, surnames, and any matches we may have in common. Matching segments can be compared by returning to the Welcome Page/Dashboard and choosing CHROMOSOME BROWSER.
From the Chromosome Browser, click FILTER MATCHES BY and from the drop down menu choose NAME:
In this case, my chromosomes are the dark colored bottom layer, and Jackie and Diane are overlaid in orange and blue, signifying where our segments match. More often, you will share much less with a project match.
To determine a common ancestor, your goal is TRIANGULATION and you have several options. Naturally, you should try to communicate with your match, examine family trees, surnames and locations for commonalities.
You can use the FTDNA IN COMMON WITH feature located beside your match’s name to look for people that are on both your lists. Perhaps you will recognize the names of other project members. You can then see if you might share the same segment(s) by comparing yourself against your selected matches in the CHROMOSOME BROWSER. You can also use a third party application to keep track of who and how you match, such as Genome Mate, which I highly recommend.
Whatever methods you use to examine, track and organize your matches, joining a project and using the available tools could very well help narrow your connection to a region and time period if not a specific ancestor. The more people who test, the more who join projects, and the more who collaborate- the more likely we are to succeed. Happy Hunting!