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How I use Hashtags to track my DNA matches

Thanks to Michele Simmons Lewis, CG for this article.


(Click to enlarge.)

I track both my atDNA (autosomal) matches and my yDNA matches in Legacy using Hashtags.

When working with atDNA, if I know how the person matches me I go ahead and add their tree (their direct line) back to our Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA). I use a special Master Source to the new data called, "DNA Match - Lineage not confirmed." As I have time, I collect the evidence I need to confirm their line and then I change the source citations.

Next, I add a hashtag to the tester and to each person in his/her direct line and to those in my direct line back to our MRCA. If there is more than one tester that has the same MRCA that person will get hashtagged on the same hashtag. I name the Hashtags like this...

MRCA - Graham, Albert and Mary Grantham
MRCA – Patton, Mathew and Caroline McMichael
MRCA - Simmons, James and Corrine Graham
MRCA - Simmons, William and Docia Perry

Now all of the testers with known MRCAs with me will be entered and the testers will be grouped by which MRCA they match.

I handle yDNA in the same way EXCEPT if I have a good yDNA match I will input the tester and his direct line even if I don't know the most MRCA is. These testers and their direct lines will be entered as unlinked trees (Add > Add Unlinked).

These Hashtags look like this...

Simmons Group - Ephraim Simmons abt 1822
Simmons Group - William Simmons abt 1685
Simmons Group - William Simmons abt 1793
Simmons Group - James Simmons, Sr. 14 Aug 1764
Simmons Group - William G. Johnson NPE abt 1800

The name of the hashtag is the brick wall ancestor for each line. In the description field I have yDNA 67 marker match - TESTERS NAME (or however many markers they tested at) as well as some other helpful notes.

Since this is a SURNAME-based DNA test I also have many other Simmons groups as Hashtags and what I am looking for is any overlap. If I see that a certain Simmons has been hashtagged in more than one group that might give me the clue I need to start connecting some of the unlinked trees. Here is how I have these additional Hashtags set up:

Simmons Group - 10&20 Cons. LA Militia
Simmons Group - 13th Reg. MS Militia
Simmons Group - Amite Co, MS
Simmons Group - Bala Chitto
Simmons Group - Marion Co, MS
Simmons Group - Natchez District, MS
Simmons Group - Pike Co, MS
Simmons Group - Random Simmons' (I don't know how these guys fit in yet)Simmons Group - Silver Creek
Simmons Group - Washington Co, MS

I have all of the tester’s contact information entered on his/her address screen. I also create custom DNA events where I can record which company they tested with and their GEDmatch number if they have one. I can add screenshots of ethnicity reports and chromosome browsers results. I am also able to keep track of our correspondence in the Notes field.

I like keeping as much information as I can in Legacy which makes my DNA research less complicated.

Learn more about Hashtags

View the Hashtags section in this webinar or view the after-webinar party section in this webinar.


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You've given me some new ideas with the hashtags. I'm just learning to use them. I also have Master sources regarding DNA and have been creating unlinked individuals for my tree. However, my correspondence is being kept in Evernote, along with screenshots of matches, chromosomes, ethnicity etc.
I think whatever method we can figure out to keep track and be able to quickly find those we have connected with, is the most important thing. Otherwise, what good are all those DNA matches?
Thanks for sharing..

I expect that this works well when you know how a person matches you but I struggle because I have not been able to figure out how 99% of my matches relate to me. The only ones I know for sure are a couple of close family I have persuaded to test and a couple who were known to be related long before I ever did the dna that confirmed it. Using hashtags will be a learning curve for me too when I activate my Legacy 9 because I have never been involved with any site or application before that uses them. I almost feel like suddenly I am getting too old for this stuff, lol. The learning curve is so steep, lol.

With autsomal DNA, I don't normally add those people to my file until I have a connection OR I at least know which line they match me on even if I don't know exactly. With yDNA it is different. If I get a good yDNA match I enter their direct line as an unlinked tree.

Thank you so much for sharing this information. But, I am confused on one point. I tried to set up a master source, as you suggested, for DNA Test - Lineage Not Confirmed. I was hoping to be able to set this up as a master, with detail added for the test taker with whom I share an MCRA . However, in the Source Writer for DNA, it asks for the detail information on the "master source screen." I'm sure there's a simple explanation for this, so must be missing some important detail. I hope my question isn't too confusing.

Thanks in advance for your help.

I should have mentioned that I am using a Basic Style Source for this source. I only have the Master Source entered and I simply skip the Citation Detail screen. For me this source is only a place marker alerting me that I basically don't have a source :)

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