Relatives at RootsTech is in full swing. I went from having a few thousand cousins of varying levels last Thursday when it went live, to having 31,000 cousins and counting, people also registered for RootsTech from around the world. This is a fabulous tool to help you connect with some of the people on your DNA match lists who didn’t respond to messages on the DNA company sites, or to find 2nd to 4th cousins and encourage them to take a DNA test depending on which lines need more testers!
Steps to use Relatives at RootsTech:
- Sign up for RootsTech 2022. It’s free and takes just a few minutes to register. On your family search profile, please put your state if in USA, or province if in certain countries. Please add your country. This will help because then we can see where our relatives in our top 300 live on the location map in the tool . 🗺
- Choose All-Access and enable Relatives at RootsTech.
- Go to FamilySearch.org. If you are not already connected to your deceased grandparents or great-grandparents, find them and connect yourself as a living person. Only you can see living people in your line, such as yourself and any living parents or grandparents. You will need to have a free FamilySearch account to do this. Let me know if you have any questions. 👵🏼👴🏼
- Get the free FamilyTree app on your phone for FamilySearch, if you don’t have it.
- From the FamilyTree app, click “View Relatives” after you see how many you have so far. Expect this number to keep going up through Sunday, March 5th. The tool will stay on FamilySearch.org and on the FamilyTree app through March 25th. After that it goes away until next year during RootsTech.
- I recommend you look at your relatives in the default of Locations and save the ones at least through 4th cousins into your FamilySearch “Contacts” on your phone on FamilyTree app. If you do that, you’ll still have them in Contacts after March 25th, just in case you need to contact anyone. The reason to use your phone instead of your laptop is because right now for me, Contacts on my laptop is not working correctly. It doesn’t save them or show me the ones I’ve saved to the FamilyTree app. 📇
- Be aware that although you will probably have well over 300 Relatives at RootsTech, this tool only shows you your top 300 in the main list. So you want to save the most distant cousin tier at the bottom of your list each time you check this because they might not all be there next time you check. My lowest tier was 5th cousins last Thursday when this tool went live this year. Then it was 4th cousins once removed. Now it’s 4th cousins, but only about 50 of my 4th cousins make the top 300 cut right now. TIP: If you’re in a rush, take screenshots of your top 300 match list. Then if anyone drops off the list before you add them to Contacts, you can type their name or user-name in later and find them. 📲
- When a new match makes your top 300 while you’re looking at your list, it seems to mix up the order of the cousin tier as you are working your way up. The list isn’t alphabetical within each tier in the first place, and it isn’t in order by people you’ve already checked and added to contacts. Also, there’s no way to tell if you already added a person to Contacts without clicking on each person and seeing if they have a checkmark (mobile) or X (laptop). If they have a plus sign, you have not yet added them to Contacts. But once you go through the list several days in a row, you’ll probably recognize many of the names/user names you already added to contacts.
- Good thing: You would think having a 300 person cap would prevent new people in your bottom relationship tier from showing up in the top 300, but the tool mixes new ones in to that bottom tier (4th cousins for me right now). It mixes them in randomly; they’re not all at the bottom of my list so I still have to go through the names to find a few new ones to add to contacts.
- Choose the filter for Maternal or Paternal (looks like two horizontal levers). My Relatives at RootsTech list is very stacked on my dad’s side. I only have 10 people from my mom’s side in my top 300! My maternal brother, two 1st Cousins once removed. three 2nd cousins once removed and 2 4th cousins. Why so lopsided for me when both my mother’s side and father’s side had big families for generations? I think it’s because three out of four of my dad’s grandparents ended up in Utah in the mid to late 1800s. Their descendants didn’t all stay in Utah, but apparently a fair number of them are interested in genealogy and family history conferences.
- A way to find more cousins who aren’t in my top 300 list for everyone around the world: Search by country, starting at the bottom (Vietnam, for me). Decide what level of relationships you want to add to your contacts, as it would be time-consuming to add tens of thousands of people. I’m adding all 4th cousins and closer, including any level of removed (once removed to 4X removed….), and some 5th cousins, depending on the line.
- Another way to find more cousins who aren’t in my top 300 list: Go to the Ancestors tab. Click the search field, which will already have a name in it (in my case, it’s my deceased father). You will see a dropdown field. Scroll down till you find the largest groups or a line on which you want to find more cousins (for me, it’s for some of my maternal 4X and 5X great-grandparents. I have one group that is over 600 people. Click on those large groups and starting at the bottom, add people to your contacts. If the groups are larger than 300 they will have a 300 person cap on who you can actually see, possibly to stop the servers from crashing this week…I’m not sure yet how to get to the ones not in the top 300, but it might sort them in randomly each time you check like it does for your main list. Let me know your experience!
- Okay, now you have hundreds of new-to-you cousins in Contacts and you can even see (for the most part) which ones are descendants of common ancestors. Now what? Count them! I love counting people. How many 4th cousins do I have names for now? Do any of them live in my state or where do they live around the world? How many 4th cousins from each line? Write a brief message in your notes app and copy it so you can paste it in and send messages to a bunch of your closest cousins. I would include a brief hello, where you live (in general, just the state or country) and your email address. If you are 2nd to 4th or 5th cousins, tell them if you have tested your DNA and that you hope to find them on one of your match lists. Ask if they have tested, where they tested and what name they used. Keep it brief! You can chat more later to those who respond. 💻
- If you can see on the family tree chart that you only have one of a couple as a common ancestor (for instance, if your 3X great-grandmother married two different men and you each descend from a different husband), these “half” relationships are GOLD for DNA analysis! You want to find them on your DNA match list (or ask them if they will test). Then you know that any shared matches you have are most likely related to you both just from the ancestor you know you have in common (a 3X great-grandmother in this example). 🧬
- I don’t spend much time looking at my 6th to 13th cousins, although I am happy to have common ancestors with anyone in this cousin range. I just don’t know as much about our common ancestors, and for the most part, they won’t share DNA with me; it’s getting to be too far back. Sometimes, though, a 7th cousin is the closest you have on a line you want to know more about, so it just depends.
I plan to start a few “4th Cousin Clubs” for descendants of select lines (my 3X Great-grandparents Robert Harris and Hannah Mariah Eagles, for example), maybe on Facebook, a place to find out a bit more about my hundreds of newfound 4th cousins and talk about how to best leverage our DNA results. We can put our mutual 3X great-grandparents’ life-stories and photos in files (who has original images or the best quality copies to scan?). These can be shared to Memories on FamilySearch.org, also. 👨👩👧👦
Do you have any tips on using Relatives at RootsTech? Let me know if we’re related! You can check for a friend who is registered for RootsTech by name.