Updating your Earliest Known Ancestor information in your profile will help refine our reports and enhance the power of our reports for your genealogy research.

Did you know that aside from being able to build or upload your family tree, there’s a place to enter information about your earliest known direct paternal and direct maternal ancestors?

How to Update Your Earliest Known Ancestors

To enter this information, sign in to your account and navigate to your Account Settings. Under the Genealogy Settings section, there’s a tab for Earliest Known Ancestors.

The Earliest Known Ancestors section allows you to enter information about specific ancestors and their locations. You can enter the name, birth year, death year, and location information about the ancestor as far back as you can go on your direct paternal line and as far back as you can go on your direct maternal line.

Your direct paternal line will be an unbroken line of males from your father as far back as you can go.

Your direct maternal line will be an unbroken line of females from your mother as far back as you can go.

Update Your Earliest Known Ancestor Information in Three Steps

Account Settings Earliest Known Ancestor Information - FamilyTreeDNA Blog
  1. Enter the name and birth/death date in the blanks provided in each section.
  2. Select a Country of Origin for each of your Earliest Known Ancestors from the drop-down boxes.
    • To add a more specific location, click “Update location” and follow the instructions.
  3. Make sure you click “Save” at the bottom of the page!

What if You Don’t Know Any Ancestors on a Line?

Many people take a DNA test in order to discover their ancestors and genetic family. If you don’t yet know your birth parents or one of your birth parents, check the box next to “I don’t know this information.” Again, make sure you click “Save” at the bottom of the page!

Where Will Your Ancestor Information Be Seen?

Entering your Earliest Known Ancestor information and locations provides multiple ways for matches to find their connections with each other and ultimately help with genealogical research.

You will see the earliest known ancestor information in multiple places around the site.

    • Your profile card
    • The matches pages
    • Matches Maps
    • myOrigins
    • Ancestral Origins
    • Public Haplotrees
    • Y-DNA Block Tree
    • Haplogroup Story
    • Country Frequency
    • Time Tree

    Your Profile Card Will Show Both Your Paternal and Maternal Ancestors

Profile Card Earliest Known Ancestor Information - FamilyTreeDNA Blog

The name, birth/death dates, and country of origin you enter will be shown to your matches on your Profile Card. This is the easiest place to see Earliest Known Ancestor information for both lines.

Show Your Matches Who Your Earliest Known Ancestor Is on the Matches Page

Matches Page Earliest Known Ancestor Information - FamilyTreeDNA Blog

For each match, you are able to see their specific Earliest Known Ancestor name, birth and death dates, and country of origin. Going through the list of detailed information can help you find commonalities between you and your matches.

Explore Refined Migrations and Ancestor Locations From Matches on the Matches Maps and myOrigins©

Adding your Earliest Known Ancestors’ countries of origin and their specific locations will also help you discover the more recent migration paths your ancestors took. The migration maps and myOrigins reports are examples of tools where this information can be found and a migration path pieced together.

If you’ve entered your ancestors’ locations, then your matches will be able to view you on the Y-DNA and mtDNA Matches Maps, and if you opt in to Origins Sharing under Privacy Settings, on the Shared Origins tab of myOrigins.

Our Ancestral Origins Reports Earliest Known Ancestor Countries With Match Totals

Ancestral Origins Earliest Known Ancestor Information - FamilyTreeDNA Blog

The Ancestral Origins pages for Y-DNA and mtDNA will list your matches’ Earliest Known Ancestor countries of origin along with the total number of matches from each country. This will help when researching country frequency among your matches.

Public Haplotrees Display Reported Ancestor Countries for Each Haplogroup

Y-DNA Haplotree Earliest Known Ancestor Information - FamilyTreeDNA Blog

The Y-DNA Haplotree and mtDNA Haplotree will display a country flag for each branch participants’ Earliest Known Ancestor countries of origin. There is also a total number of testers displayed below the flag, allowing you to see the country distribution for each haplogroup. This will help when researching specific haplogroups.

Earliest Known Ancestor Countries Are Displayed on the Block Tree

Block Tree Earliest Known Ancestor Information - FamilyTreeDNA Blog

One Big Y feature also makes use of this information. With the Block Tree you can cluster with others on the haplotree to discover the recent origins of your direct paternal line.

Discover Additional Reports With Updated Earliest Known Ancestor Information in Discover™

You can also view paternal countries of origin in our Discover reports: the Haplogroup Story, Country Frequency, and the Time Tree. These reports are best used with the most up-to-date Earliest Known Ancestor information, and help with Y-DNA haplogroup research.

What if I Find New Information About My Earliest Known Ancestors That Differs From What I’ve Already Entered?

Maybe you didn’t know the information and discovered it, or maybe you broke a brick wall and can trace your lineage back further. Congratulations!

Maybe what you thought was correct wasn’t, and you need to fix it. Congratulations on this too! It’s not as fun as the first reason this information could need updating, but you’re no longer on the wrong track.

For any reason, if you need to update the information, just navigate back to your Account Settings, replace the old information with the new, and click “Save” at the bottom of the page. The new information will be displayed to your matches, on the Public Haplotrees, and in the Discover reports within 24 hours.

The New Globetrekker Feature Will Also Use Earliest Known Ancestor Locations

FamilyTreeDNA has a new feature coming soon that will utilize the country of origin and location information for your paternal Earliest Known Ancestor.

Big Y testers will be able to trace the paths of their ancestors with the new Globetrekker in Discover.

While the current Y-DNA migration maps trace your origins from Y Chromosomal “Adam” to several thousand years ago, the Globetrekker extends beyond to your place on the haplotree, which for half of Big Y testers is within the past 500 years!

Ensure you can utilize this exciting new feature when it’s released by ordering a Big Y-700 and entering your paternal Earliest Known Ancestor country and location.

For additional information about your Earliest Known Ancestor, including a video tutorial, check out our Earliest Known Ancestor article in the Help Center.

Katy Rowe-Schurwanz - Product Manager at FamilyTreeDNA

About the Author

Katy Rowe

Product Manager at FamilyTreeDNA

Katy Rowe has always been interested in genealogy, inspired by her maternal grandparents, who told her stories about their family and family history when she was little. After studying anthropology and history in college, she joined FamilyTreeDNA in 2015 and became the Trainer for Customer Support. Katy created and improved training processes and was fundamental in the creation of the Big Y Specialist team. In September 2021, she became Product Manager and has focused closely on improving FamilyTreeDNA’s genetic genealogy products.