Ancestry’s Genetic Communities

When I first heard about Ancestry’s Genetic Communities feature (due to be released next week on the 28th March 2017) I thought it was primarily aimed at Americans as the academic paper and advertisements seemed to point to as much. However, to my delight, it includes Europeans as well! And, to add to my excitement even further, I was invited to beta test the Genetic Community results.

To begin with, I’ve already spoken about my paper trail here, if anything I write in this post about my ancestry is confusing then please refer to this post as it may resolve that confusion.

For those who don’t know, the Genetic Communities feature was created to represent an individual’s recent family history as opposed to the ethnicity feature which reflects ancient ancestry. AncestryDNA created the new feature by comparing members’ family trees and DNA results; doing this at such a number as to avoid potential errors in individual family trees.

AncestryDNA offer Genetic Communities in the following regions:



  • Finns
  • Eastern Norwegians
  • Swedes
  • Western Norwegians
  • Central Norwegians

United Kingdom & Ireland

  • English Newfoundlanders
  • Southern English
  • Northern English
  • Scots
  • English Midlanders & Northerners
  • The Welsh & English West Midlanders
  • Ulster Irish
  • Connacht Irish
  • Munster Irish

Western Europe

  • Jews in Central Europe
  • Germans, Netherlanders, Belgians & Luxembourgians
  • Germans in the Midwest
  • Portuguese

Southern Europe

  • South Slaves
  • Southeastern Europeans
  • Northern Italians
  • Southern Italians
  • Sicilians
  • Portuguese
  • Spaniards, Cubans, Dominicans & Venezuelans

Eastern & Central Europe

  • Jews in Central Europe
  • Jews in the Russian Empire
  • South Slavs
  • Eastern Europeans
  • Central Europeans

Western Russia

  • Germans from Russia

North America

United States

  • Northeastern United States

–New England

–Mid-Atlantic States

  • Southern United States

–Gulf States

–Southeastern States


–Southern Atlantic States

  • Midwestern United States

–Early Settlers of the Lower Midwest & Virginia

–Germans in the Midwest

–Early Settlers of the Ohio River Valley, Indiana, Illinois & Iowa

–Early Settlers of Pennsylvania, Ohio & Indiana

–Germans from Russia

  • Western United States

–Early Settlers of New Mexico

–Mormon Pioneers of the Mountain West

–Mexicans in Chihuahua & Durango


  • English Newfoundlanders
  • French Settlers Along the St. Lawrence
  • Acadians
  • French Settlers of Gaspe, New Brunswick & Maine


  • Mexicans in Northeastern Mexico & South Texas
  • Mexicans in Chihuahua & Durango
  • Mexicans in Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon & South Texas

South & Central America


  • African Caribbeans
  • Spaniards, Cubans, Dominicans & Venezuelans
  • Puerto Ricans

South America

  • Colombians
  • Colombians & Ecuadorians
  • Portuguese

*These regions usually also have a few branches within each of them that Ancestry attempt to identify. I will further explore this when explaining my results.

Genetic Community Results

The beta was released to all the kits I manage (mine, my parents, and my brother’s) and I was very impressed by the accuracy of the results. However, I would have liked to have seen more than 1-2 communities in the results (I’m hoping more genetic communities will be attributed to my kits once the feature is fully released).

My mum’s results correctly identified the area that correlated with the largest part of her DNA: Yorkshire & The Pennines. As you may have noticed, Yorkshire & The Pennines wasn’t on my list of communities above… This is because it is a branch within the English Midlanders & Northerners region. While my mum’s DNA is mostly from the English Midlanders & Northerners community on the paper trail, her great-granddad was from Middlesex, which would make up approximately 12.5% of her DNA. This should, in my opinion, be significant enough to show as a genetic community, which would be represented as one of the Southern English communities. Nonetheless, I was pleased to see Ancestry identify my mum’s Yorkshire-ness, since it’s so prevalent I would have been upset if it wasn’t identified.

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 12.04.30 pm

My dad’s DNA, on the other hand, according to the paper trail consists of about 38% Scottish, 12% Irish, and the rest English. Ancestry, however, only identified his Scottish DNA (even though his English is much more prevalent). Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably most proud of the Scottish heritage and I’m so glad Ancestry did identify it, but I’m again a little disappointed they didn’t pick his English or Irish. If they had identified his English and Irish I think he would’ve been placed in the following Genetic Communities: The Welsh & English West Midlanders, Ulster Irish, and maybe English Midlanders & Northerners.

Dad’s placement in the community ‘Scots in Northeast & Central Scotland’ accurately fits in with the Scottish on our family tree, which shows ancestors from Ayrshire, West Lothian, Elginshire, and Lanarkshire.

(N.B: John Peters is a pseudonym, which my dad goes by for privacy reasons):

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 12.03.38 pm

For comparison, the following are mine and my brother’s results:

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 12.03.16 pmScreen Shot 2017-03-20 at 12.04.10 pm

A Review of Genetic Communities

As I’ve already said I love the accuracy of the Genetic Communities feature. I wish Ancestry identified more communities, although, perhaps that’s a possibility for the actual release of Genetic Communities next week or another time in the future. Furthermore, once you click into the genetic communities Ancestry offers an overview of the area and a timeline of its history. I haven’t yet explored this in much depth but I look forward to it and I love that this is included.

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 1.29.38 pm.png

I also love that when you zoom in on the area, they show circles over the main genetic clusters.

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 1.33.34 pm

Though the maps show the capital cities, I think it would be helpful to customers if Ancestry included a list of counties included within these circles since not everyone is familiar with the geography of certain areas.

On the other hand, I noticed that there are no genetic communities for Africa or Asia and I’m assuming this is due to there being less test-takers from these areas. I feel like this is a massive gap in the system, which I hope will be updated as more people test.

All in all, I love this new feature! I think it’s going to be very beneficial to adoptees and to people with many brick walls in their research. I love how easy it is to use. And, I think it’s great that Ancestry are keeping up with their competition since the release of this feature is in lieu with the release of LivingDNA’s new test. I think the Genetic Communities feature has added to the benefits of test-taking with AncestryDNA over other companies and I would definitely recommend AncestryDNA.

Edit: 18/04/2017 Updated information and terminology to be more accurate.

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