Thursday, November 3, 2016

DNA ~ Here’s how I’m keeping track of the correspondence I’m sending to matches

DNA is certainly a subject we are all talking about. As more and more of us and our families test, we will have more connections.  That leads to more correspondence.

How are you keeping track of your emails and connections?
There are spreadsheets, Word documents, One Note, Evernote, handwritten notes and I’m sure any other number of ways to go about keeping track.

Or, like me, are you overwhelmed and don’t know where to start?  I decided enough was enough and ………

Here’s how I am currently keeping track.

So far I’ve used this method for matches from FtDNA.  Both of my brothers and my husband have completed FtDNA tests.  I have uploaded my autosomal DNA from Ancestry to FtDNA.
NOTE:  It is currently not possible to upload from the newer Ancestry DNA tests to FtDNA.  It is hoped that they will soon change that.  It has something to do with the configuration of the new Ancestry tests.

I begin by finding the matches in Family Finder on the FtDNA site.  Below are just a few of the matches on page one of my brother, Norm’s test.  Norm and I have the same parents.  Because we have a paternal brick wall, I concentrate on Norm’s YDNA a lot.

My brother John Zimmerman has a different father, therefore he is our half brother.  Although we never use the term half, except for genealogical purposes.

Those numbers in the 60’s are very good matches, and likely to be within the current time range which would allow us to easily find our connection.

I created an “Introductory Email” in Word and saved it.  I will use the same email, with changes here and there, for all my correspondence.

From attending several DNA lectures/seminars, I’ve learned that an introductory email should be simple and short. In other words we shouldn’t go on and on about our family lines.  In this case, I’ve introduced myself, mentioned that we matched on FtDNA and indicated how many centimorgens for the match.  Then I’ve told them in a couple of sentences that I’ve been working on my genealogy for over 13 years and still have ancestors that are “hiding from me.”  Then I tell them to contact me if they are interested in exchanging information.  Period.
Time will tell, how effective my email is and if I need to change the wording.

Next, I entered the information about the contact into Evernote.  Why Evernote?  For me, it seems a simple solution right now, that will allow me to keep track and find things in the future.  I do know there are spreadsheets out there that we can make copies of.  I do like spreadsheets and foresee that in the not too distant future, I will be using one to keep my DNA records.  But, for right now, I had to get started and this is the method I chose.  If you want to know more about how I use Evernote for my genealogy, please read my posts here, and here.

Here’s how I recorded my email correspondence today:

John Smith is not the match's real name

In the same note underneath the information above I’ve listed more contacts that I sent emails to.

I’ve already heard back from two people I contacted.  I’ve chosen to save all correspondence in Evernote, in separate notes for each contact. That way I can keep all the correspondence back & forth between us, in one neat, tidy place.

This method may not work for everyone.  Whether it works for the long haul for me is yet to be determined.  However, being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start or how to keep track was getting me no where.

I’d love to know how you are keeping track of your matches & correspondence.  Are you making a lot of discoveries?
I know we’ve only touched the surface of our future with genetic genealogy.  I look forward to all of it.

NOTE:  I was contacted by our Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, after publishing this post.  She informed me that, unless I had permission, I could not show the names of the matches.  I had already blurred their emails, but didn't think to blur names.  I have corrected my error and thank Judy for always reminding us about proper procedures.


Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2016   Diane Gould Hall


  1. I may have to try this as I'm floundering. I did two posts about how I use the notes on Ancestry. One tool includes the AncestryDNA Helper. It is presently NOT working. This means I cannot search the Ancestry notes for email, surnames, etc.
    I like how you use Link? as part of your surname tag. Diane, you may have convinced me to pay the $ to unlock my AncestryDNA on FTDNA. Mine (my brother's) came in just before the switch over and have been sitting around on FTDNA since early June. ~ Cathy

    1. You're not alone Cathy. I did my Ancestry DNA probably two years ago and I only just paid to upload to Family Finder. Both my brothers and my husband have done the YDNA test AND the Ancestry test. It is a major learning experience for sure. But, I think between GedMatch and the Family Finder we can all get some great connections. Good luck, let me know how it goes.

    2. Thank you Diane! ~ Cathy

  2. Judy Young TuccinardiNovember 6, 2016 at 5:06 AM

    I have made spreadsheets (yes, plural) for each chromosome. BUT I now want to combine them into one database. That's a project. The issue I have is that I am not taking the time to enter all my matches (and the kits I manage, their matches) into said spreadsheets. I am SOOOOOO far behind in doing this it will take me months to get caught up. I need a secretary for that. In Evernote I tag the chromosome with a C1, C2, etc. But I really need to the spreadsheet(s) to show me the segment start and end point. I have created a DNA Fact Sheet which I can keep track of the correspondence and other pertinent info but it's the spreadsheet(s) that I really need to use but I don't use them. It just takes another step and more time to enter the information. Ugh. I am my own worst enemy.

  3. I am re-reading this and think I need to first start with Evernote, making sure I am using it the best way. And, I need to get a better understanding of DNA. Thanks for your usual well-written posts!


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.