Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What is gedmatch and what can it do for me?

Gedmatch is an excellent website which can be useful to anyone researching a family tree. There are many possibilities.

If you have had your autosomal DNA tested there are lots of fun things to do.

But, even if you have never had your DNA tested, you can still use one section of Gedmatch. That is the gedcom matching section. You just load up your gedcom (family tree), and if you don't have one, it may be worthwhile to buy  a program like Family Tree Maker because of its great versatility. If you don't want to do that, there are some free alternatives for creating gedcoms. Just check around online. Once you have done that, you load the gedcom  up and it will automatically be compared to many other gedcoms to see where there might be names, dates,  and places in common. Some of  the results will seem silly--Jamie Johnson from Tennessee  is matched against Jamie Johnson of Wales, and they have nothing in common. Other matches will prove more intriguing. You can just scroll though the results to see where something looks like a good match. If you find a distant cousin, you may find that there is a chance to get more information on your ancestors, either by contacting that person, or by looking at other information on the cousin's tree.

If you have had your DNA tested, you have many, many more options at Gedmatch. One of the most straightforward applications is the chromosome browser: load up your match results from your testing company and see where bars of matching segments correspond and overlap. Also excellent is the triangulation utility: if three or more people have one match in common, the common match shows up and you see the others who match that individual. You might find that there are at least a few of those matches who match you, or who could match you. Or you can at least see what geography might be involved.
Then there is the utility for cross-company comparisons--see what matches you might have from the company you did not test with, and the excellent chromosome painting, which is something that used to cost quite a bit of cash at many of the testing companies. Now you can see it for free.

And, as I have mentioned in earlier posts, there is the very excellent sister site which takes everything  to a higher level in the specific context of group comparisons. The link to the sister site can be found at gedmatch.com.

No comments: