1. A gedcom program. This is a computer program for building family trees. Having a gedcom program allows you to construct a tree or parts of a tree with ease. With most programs you can attach and detach tree branches and save time and keystrokes. (You can save branches that don't appear to be your closest in a separate folder and after you have found your family, re-attach them if they are part of your tree.)
There are many free gedcom programs available online.
The program I have the most experience with is Legacy Family Tree. There is a learning curve. Legacy has superb training videos. If you can afford it, I would go ahead and purchase the Delux program. Price-Free and up to $99. (Legacy is on half price sale at the time of this post 8/9/2017) HERE
2. Learn and use Rootsweb WorldConnect. This site is an oldie but goodie; launched in 1999, you can read a brief history of those who created it HERE.
Genealogists make mistakes, (I certainly do). Unfortunately, many of the those posted their trees to RootsWebWorldConnect and never made any corrections. Some of these amateur genealogists appeared to make a contest of building trees as big as they could as fast as they could. They used one of Rootsweb's most innovative features; the ability to download gedcoms and link them together. Many of the gedcoms were not adequately sourced. This created many errors being repeated and re-posted. Many people have uploaded parts of these error filled trees to other genealogy sites; including AncestryDNA trees.
Still, Rootsweb is an awesome tool for expanding family trees you share with matches on AncestryDNA. If you have linked your Mirror Tree to one child's line, you may need to find another child from this line before you start getting leaf hints. If your match only shows one person, look for family members at Rootsweb. (Use the surname and geographic location but give a 10-20 year span on birth date to find possible siblings to your match on Ancestry.) Rootsweb link HERE
The use of DNA to find and correct errors on Rootsweb, is slowly having positive effects on public online trees, thanks in no small part to adoptees using the Mirror Tree method to find family. As an adoptee, if you discover such an error, please relate this information to your match. You will benefit genealogists and all those adoptees using Mirror Trees in the future. Use Rootsweb for CLUES. Take the information based on your common ancestor match on Ancestry and look up to expand family members. Armed with this information go to--
3. Join (free) WikiTree and enter your profile. Then one profile at a time, grow your tree DOWN using your suspected common ancestor you find Ancestry who is also on WikiTree. For someone who is not adopted How-to video HERE. Each profile has a link to find sources specific to the information in the ancestor profile. Your DNA, once linked to a GEDmatches DNA, verifies you are on the right path.
4. Everyone should download relationship charts. There is one, The Shared cM Project, designed by Blaine T. Bettinger; another one created by Christa Stalcup, DNA Detectives Autosomal Statistics Chart, for the DNA Detectives. (see my May 5, 2017 post for Blain's chart.) Christa's chart is HERE
I recommend having these charts laminated. Most office supply stores or libraries will do this for a nominal cost. It will help keep the charts from getting lost if you are also a paper-note-taker like I am.
5. If you have one side of your tree identified, fill out an X DNA Inheritance Chart and keep it handy. With permission from Blaine T. Bettinger, Debby Parker has attached a Creative Commons license and has linked several different electronic formats of the charts for use in compliance with the creative commons license. You can download and personalize the charts that are available by clicking: HERE.
6. Use GEDmatch Tier 1 Tools for one month. This will cost you a one time $10 donation. Download all of the Beta tools as indicated by the red arrows in this screenshot into a single workbook. You can make it a single workbook by opening different sheets indicated at the bottom of an open spreadsheet. Here is a video on how to download DNA data to Gedmatch HERE.
I prefer the Tier 1 tools in a workbook spreadsheet for myself in this order starting with Beta Triangulation Groups: Sheet 1- Graphic Tree, Sheet 2- Bar Chart Graphic, Sheet 3- CSV file, Sheet 4- Triangulation (it takes the longest to run and I title it Triangulated Segments) Sheet 5-Matching Segment Search. With each results run simply do a Ctrl-A to copy then open the spreadsheet page and paste. (Full instructions are found in my post Easy Peasy Spreadsheets.)
Write emails to the people you triangulate with. Send them a copy of your one-to-one comparison, or send them a screenshot of who you match with in the graphic tree or Triangulated segments.
On Sheet 5, Matching segments I add a column in the spreadsheet just before the black bordered color graphic. This extra column is for my notes, most recent common ancestor (MRCA) and who triangulates with me that helped ID the MRCA.
If you suddenly have many new closer matches on Gedmatch, you might want to donate again and download a new workbook or at least the Triangulations page in your workbook. Then transfer all your common info from your previously identified matches in your matching segment sheets. I am told I wouldn't have to do all this sorting and adding if I use Genomate Pro. (Big learning curve for me.) Maybe when I have a chance I will try it; but for now I am struggling to keep up with the emails I am exchanging with others and adding our MRCA's.
A note here on MRCA. The most recent common ancestor is the closest person you SHARE. It may be a couple. You come from one of their children's lines, if your match comes from a different child's line; you share the common set of grandparents. Include both surnames in the column. If one of the grandparents had a second spouse and the child's line who you match came from that different spouse, you will be able to identify your MRCA as the one grandparent you have in common. Common ancestors (CA) is everyone one else in the more distant straight line, up the tree, who you share with your match. This drawing is an example of a MRCA:
If you use the tools I have listed in this blog post, it will help you find your MRCA's. Using AncestryDNA for Mirror Tree's finds common ancestors. Triangulated groups will help you find your MRCA's. Finding MRCA instead of CA's will help you find the right biological family with more accuracy. So, look for your closest match on Gedmatch who shares the most DNA with you and see if you triangulate with them. Then start building your Mirror Tree down each child's leg or branch of the tree. If you don't get wiggly leaf hints, start again with the MRCA and build down a different child's branch.