First, FamilySearch has launched a new search results filter that allows researchers to filter by race. The available race filter options are extracted from the original documents, such as Negro, Neg, N, Black, B, Mulatto, African American, and Colored. By selecting the multiple race categories, the search results for a Jane Holloway in Lee County, Alabama narrow down significantly from 3,978 results to a more manageable 252.
Another exciting new feature at FamilySearch is the “Other Relationships” option available on an individual’s page from the Family Tree. This new feature allows researchers to apply the Friends, Associates, and Neighbors (FANs) theory to their tree. The additional relationship options, such as apprenticeship, employment, enslavement, godparent, household, and neighbor – all beyond family bloodlines – offer a dramatic opportunity to better understand how interconnected our families and local communities are. Once the person is linked, the source documenting the relationship can also be connected as well. The future possibilities, particularly for African-Americans and slaveholders, are limitless.
Finally, the cM ExplainerTM, freely available through MyHeritage can assist researchers in determining their relationship with their DNA matches based on their shared DNA (called centimorgans [cM]) and ages. For example, I entered my shared DNA of 303 cM that I had from an Ancestry DNA match and my age. The cM ExplainerTM determined the “matched” person was most likely (68.3%) a 2nd cousin or my parent’s 1st cousin (only a 17.2% likelihood) with our most recent common ancestor (MRCA) being great-grandparents. Taking a look at my DNA matches tree, I made an estimated guess at the person’s age and resubmitted the information; the relationship then updated as a 57.8 % likelihood that the DNA match was one of my parent’s 1st cousins. I verified with my parents that the DNA relationship was correct. The potential relationships chart at cM ExplainerTM is very helpful, too, so even if you are not able to estimate your DNA matches age, be sure to take advantage of this tool!
When you have an opportunity, check out these exciting new features and resources!