The genealogical community was all abuzz last month after the RootsTech announcement of three new tools recently launched on AncestryDNA.com.
Ancestry, of course, touts them as “game changing” – MyTreeTags; New & Improved DNA Matches; and ThruLines, which is a new take on Ancestry’s earlier DNA Circles tool.
Those with full Ancestry memberships may opt-in to the MyTreeTags and New & Improved DNA Matches, which are both currently in the beta-testing phase. This allows you to enable these tools, even though they are not available automatically to every user.
I’ve opted into both, but for this post I’m going to focus on the tagging system. While I’m not sure it’s actually a game-changer, I do find it quite useful.
The tags are labels you can add to the profiles of individuals in your family tree. The tags allow you highlight specific details of your research on this person or reflect the status of your research on them. The option appears on the person’s profile page as a blue icon, located beneath the person’s name at the top of the page.
For instance, Myrtle H. is one of my paternal cousins in my tree. I don’t have any facts attached to her profile, which means I probably added her to the tree because, born in 1875, she was listed as living with her parents in the 1880 census. I do have a husband for her, but no sources for him, either.
So, when I click on the “Tags” icon, it opens a side window that shows all of my options. Ancestry has created it’s own categories, such as “DNA” tags, where I choose from “Common DNA Ancestor,” “DNA Match,” or “DNA Connection”; “Reference” tags, which can indicate if the person was an immigrant or served in the military; and “Research” and “Relationships” tags.
For me, the most pertinent tag in Myrtle’s case is under “Research,” where I can tag her as “unverified.”
Users also have the option of creating custom tags. I’ve found a lot of Revolutionary War soldiers in many of my maternal and paternal lines, so I created a tag to indicate they served. This will be helpful, because now I can search my tree using that filter to find just those individuals with that tag.
This is a great tool for people who are just starting to build their trees. For people like me, who have been at this for decades and have several thousands of people in their trees, it’s useful, but I don’t foresee going through them all one by one to tag everyone.
It is, however, a useful option going forward.
Up to now, the only way I’ve been able to “tag” people in my tree is to upload images to use as their profile photos. For example, I have an image for my DNA matches and another image for those who died as children, so I know they were never married and never had their own children. This method is valuable, as a visual tool, but clunky, because Ancestry forces me to upload these images every time I want to use them in a profile. I don’t have the option to store them someplace, where I could just click on them and add them.
Unlike my images, the MyTreeTags do not appear with an individual when I am looking at them in my tree. They do appear when I “mouse over” that person.
So, while it is a great solution and a useful tool, as a visual person, I hope perhaps this will be the next improvement Ancestry makes based on user feedback.
* Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with AncestryDNA.com, other than being a long-time subscriber.