ancestry

Ancestry.com Review

What is Ancestry.com?

Ancestry Website

Ancestry.com is a global leader in the genealogy market. It is also the largest for-profit genealogy company in the world, possessing a huge network of historical records. 

Ancestry.com are not just a genealogy website, they also offer services AncestryDNA and AncestryHealth. AncestryDNA is able to provide information about your heritage through the information held in your DNA. AncestryHealth is a relatively new addition to the Ancestry.com team. AncestryHealth expands its current DNA testing products by allowing you to uncover both your heritage and health-related DNA information.

Ancestry.com and AncestryDNA allow you to reveal your heritage and connect with unknown family members. The combination of DNA testing with the established online familial history resource is an excellent way for you to find your history and build new family connections. 

What does Ancestry.com offer?

Ancestry.com was initially founded in 1997 as a service providing online subscription-based access to its growing genealogy database. Ancestry.com has continued growing since then, offering extensive family history records. They boast an impressive 20 billion records, with 100 million family trees generated by their users. This means they have the largest resource of any other company. Some of their record collections include:

  • Census records dating as far back as 1790
  • Birth, death and marriage records
  • Adoption records
  • Military records
  • Immigration records
  • Voter Records
  • Divorce records
  • Religious collections 
  • Tax records

You can add the information you know about your relatives, and Ancestry will indicate to you when they have found potential information associated with that individual. This allows you to trace your family lineage and uncover previously unknown details about their life. The more information you discover and record, the more hints Ancestry.com can provide. As a result, your family tree is continually developing and expanding. 

AncestryDNA

AncestryDNA is a subsidiary of Ancestry.com. It is a DNA testing service, the results of which can be seamlessly integrated with the information into your Ancestry.com account. Alternatively, AncestryDNA can be used as a stand-alone service if you are not interested in classical genealogy. AncestryDNA has a vast number of active users, which is beneficial to both traditional genealogy with Ancestry.com, and the information you can gain from AncestryDNA. 

How does the testing process work for AncestryDNA?

When you purchase a kit, AncestryDNA will deliver your test, which contains a saliva tube and a return envelope. You first activate your kit, fill the tube with saliva, and send it back. In 6-8 weeks, your results will be available to view in your online account.

What does AncestryDNA tell you?

The results from the AncestryDNA test will display your ‘ethnic breakdown’ as well as showing you any DNA matches that are present in their database. If you also choose to become a member of Ancestry.com, you can access their extensive historical records as well as the information present in the family trees of other users. 

Your ethnic breakdown is an estimate of your ethnicity. AncestryDNA analyze your DNA at 700,000 markers and compare it to huge amounts of population data (taken from a reference panel of people from all over the world). This allows them to determine which geographical location your DNA reflects.

Your DNA matches highlight people present in the AncestryDNA database with whom you share a degree of genetic relatedness. You can contact these individuals, and look at what common ancestors, and how much ethnicity breakdown, you share. These determinations are based on complex algorithms and statistics. 

AncestryDNA also has a feature called ThruLines™, which shows you the common ancestors that likely link you to the individuals with which you showed a DNA match. This can help you to visualize how you are related to your distant relatives.

What technology does AncestryDNA use?

DNA Mouth Swab

The DNA is first extracted from your saliva. The DNA present in your saliva comes from cheek cells and immune system cells. Then, your DNA is amplified to generate thousands of copies that can be analyzed.

AncestryDNA’s testing platform is microarray-based (SNP-chip). To put it simply, a microarray is a chip (like a computer chip) containing thousands of probes that represent different genetic variations. In this case, the microarray is set up to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which are markers of genetic variation that can be associated with specific ethnicities. Your DNA is tested at 700,000 of these markers. 

The regions that AncestryDNA test are all autosomal. This means their analysis does not look at DNA sequences present on the mitochondrial DNA (maternal lineage-specific) or the Y chromosome (paternal lineage-specific). Therefore, AncestryDNA determines matches on both sides of your family; both men and women get the same information out of the test. 

AncestryDNA’s technology is outlined in their white paper, where they describe the algorithms they use to match your sample to related individuals. 

AncestryHealth

Ancestry health logo

AncestryHealth is also a DNA testing product linked to Ancestry.com. However, instead of determining what your DNA says about your ethnic origins, AncestryHealth focuses on how variation in your DNA can affect your physical traits. The test looks for markers that have been linked to diseases such as certain cancers and heart disease. 

The AncestryHealth kit also gives you the same information you can learn from an AncestryDNA test. If you were interested in both ancestry and health traits, this would be the test for you.

What is the value for money? 

The different types of Ancestry.com membership range from $9.99 per month (or $49 for six months) to $29.99 per month (or $149 per six months). Each of these price plans gives you access to different resources. For example, at the lower end of the scale, you can only access US records. If you pay for the 

An AncestryDNA DNA test kit costs $99, excluding shipping costs.  AncestryHealth, which includes all the capabilities of AncestryDNA, costs $149. To access the full capabilities of your AncestryHealth and Ancestry DNA tests, you may also want to purchase an Ancestry.com subscription. 

The verdict 

If you are looking to do some serious research on your ancestors, AncestryDNA and Ancestry.com could be an excellent tool. Ancestry.com has a vast online resource of historical records that you can use in your genealogy research. AncestryDNA represents the world’s largest consumer genetic database, maximizing your chances of obtaining useful information about your heritage and finding DNA matches. 

If you were looking for paternal- and maternal-specific information, you might wish to select another test, because the assessments offered by Ancestry.com do not distinguish between each lineage. However, if you want to search for living relatives, Ancestry.com would be one of the best options on the market.  

If you wish to obtain access to the full range of resources that Ancestry.com has to offer, you might find that you run into high costs over time. Their full subscription service plus the price of your DNA testing is quite substantial. However, the subscription can be renewed monthly (and there is a free trial), so you can try the service out and cancel if it is not for you. Genealogy enthusiasts might find access to such a vast resource of information is worth the price.