Instructions for opting in to the beta test are at the bottom of this post.
Ancestry has pulled off a trifecta for RootsTech 2019, introducing three exciting new tools that are sure to become integral your genealogy work, both traditional and genetic. MyTreeTagsTM is the first of the three that I’ll review. The others are an improved DNA Matches page and ThruLines.
All three features are still in beta testing, meaning glitches are to be expected and the appearance and functionality may change as improvements are made. You can opt in to MyTreeTags and the new DNA Matches, while ThruLines will be automatically added to your DNA test if you meet certain criteria (details below). If you are not comfortable with works in progress, there’s no need to opt in.
You can also watch a free live-stream video introduction to the features on their Facebook page.
MyTreeTags are customizable, searchable, mix-and-match options that you can add to people in your tree to streamline your work. You can use tags for anything you want: to mark direct ancestors, military veterans, DNA matches, brick walls, etc. Ancestry has included some built-in tags that are generally applicable to most trees (and will be translated to other languages), and you can customize your own to suite your family history and research needs.
Best of all, they are searchable!
Adding Tags to a Person in Your Tree
To access tags, go to a profile page for someone in your tree. If your account is part of the beta test (see below for access), you will see a blue tag icon below their name.
Click the icon and a workspace will emerge from the right. The Workspace also includes Notes and Comments, features that already exist in Ancestry trees.
Click on any of the tag categories to expand the options. Here are the built-in selections for each category, as of 27 February 2019:
The blue question mark beside each tag offers a description.
You can even create your own tags! Here’s one I created for Le Grand Dérangement (The Great Expulsion, in English), a horrific event when the British forcibly expelled their Catholic, French-speaking citizens from Nova Scotia. Nearly half of the Acadians died as a result, and many who survived were separated from their families forever.
I have also created custom tags for places of origin (e.g., Canary Islands, France, Germany, Ireland) of my ancestors and for each of the DNA testing companies, so I can easily see where each match in my tree tested.
To assign a tag to someone in your tree, click to highlight it in the Workspace. These are the ones I selected for my great grandfather Claude LaCoste, a widower:
At the moment, you can add up to 20 tags per person. Once you save the tags, they’ll be applied to that profile, and you can close the Workspace. The tags will show in the person’s profile page.
You can also add tags from the tree view. Click on a person, then the tools icon, then click “Add tag” to bring up the Workspace. From there, you can add tags as before.
Using Tags to Search
The best part about tags is that they are searchable. Click on Tree Search and then Filters to select the tags you want to use.
You can filter by one or more tags to suit your needs. For example, you could find all direct ancestors or just direct ancestors who survived Le Grand Dérangement. You might want to see brick wall immigrants from Spain, or free blacks who fought in the Civil War. As long as those tags have been assigned to people in your tree, you can search using them. You can even combine surname searches with tags, e.g., DNA matches at AncestryDNA with the surname Hébert.
I can’t wait to use the search feature to plan research trips!
The biggest downside of tags is how tedious they are to add. Automation would help here. For example, the option to assign “Direct Ancestor” to everyone in the home person’s pedigree, or a location tag to an entire family unit, would make tagging far more efficient.
It would also be great to be able to move my custom tags into the pre-existing categories. I’ve created several tags for genetic genealogy, and they would make more logical sense in the DNA category. A Geography category would be nice, too, for all of my “France” and “Canary Islands” and “Acadia” tags.
There’s no easy way to see who in the tree has been tagged and who hasn’t. Making the blue “tag” icon visible in the tree (the way hints are) and in the “List of All People” would be really helpful.
Finally—and this is a moon shot—I would love a pedigree view that would highlight people based on selected tags. How cool would it be to have a quick visual for which generations were the immigrants? Or when your enslaved ancestors were freed? What patterns interest you? Use your imagination!
Only the tree owner and editors can add or delete tags, but anyone who can view your tree can see and search with them. So be careful with those custom tags!
How to Opt In or Out
If you have an account at Ancestry, you can opt into MyTreeTags here: https://www.ancestry.com/BETA. No subscription is required during the beta testing phase.
If you want to opt out, click on Extras in your black toolbar at the top of the Ancestry window, then select Ancestry Lab. You can disable the beta features there.