Wednesday, May 1, 2019

AncestryDNA Ethnicity

Reading a blog post from Dick Eastman referencing an update to Ancestry's ethnicity results prompted me to take a look at mine this morning. And yes, my ethnicity, according to AncestryDNA, has changed yet again. (Update: In a later post, Dick Eastman notes that Ancestry updated many users' ethnicity estimates in the fall 2018 but some users are still being transitioned into the new estimates and if you want to save your old ones, you have just a few weeks to do so.)

Don't be surprised. AncestryDNA has added more regions, and more importantly for my changes, more reference samples (i.e. the number of tested people from around the world whose ancestors have lived in the same place for generations).

Following is a history of my ethnicity estimates according to AncestryDNA.

I first tested in November 2011, when Ancestry was offering DNA tests to subscribers for the cost of shipping. I blogged about my initial results in April 2012 and shared this screenshot:

My genetic ethnicity (according to April 2012 AncestryDNA results)


By October 2013, Ancestry had updated its ethnicity estimates.

My updated genetic ethnicity (according to October 2013 AncestryDNA)


In March 2017, Ancestry added Genetic Communities, but my ethnicity estimates were still the same.


And today, my ethnicity estimates look only a little different.

My updated genetic ethnicity (according to May 2019 AncestryDNA)

Although the numbers are fun to look at, it's important to remember that these are estimates and when you click on the arrows to the right of the percentages above, you additional important information about those estimates.

England, Wales & Northwestern Europe 

This shows that although my DNA has been estimated as 58% England, Wales & Northwestern Europe, the range could be 57% to 72% from this region. The map also shows that my ancestors could have lived in any of these areas, just more likely in England.

Ireland & Scotland 

Although the range of my Irish & Scottish ethnicity could be from 0% to 36%, around 25% to 30% is probably about right, based on my maternal grandmother's ancestors almost all being Irish and Scottish (except for the Lysle branch, who were English and possibly French if I could figure out if there are records that go back far enough).

Germanic Europe

Germanic Europe? I guess that's a catch-all for the likely very early Dutch ancestors which I can find on both parents' lines. And who knows what else, since I haven't been able to confirm when many of my ancestors arrived in America.

The detail here shows that this estimate could range from 0% to 29%, though I'm inclined to agree with the low 6% estimate that AncestryDNA has given.

I love tables, so following is a table summarizing the changes in my estimated ethnicity at AncestryDNA.

Ethnicity / YearApril 2012October 2013May 2019
British Isles78%--
Great Britain-64%-
England, Wales, NW Europe--58%
Europe West-23%-
Ireland & Scotland--36%
Trace Regions-7%-
Germanic Europe--6%

I should note that other DNA testing companies have their own reference populations and regions, so my ethnicity estimates are slightly different at those websites.

Have you looked at your AncestryDNA ethnicity estimates recently? Have they changed dramatically?

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