When you test your DNA with 23andMe, your results include a set of Ancestry reports and a list of DNA relatives. Will you discover famous relatives with 23andMe? This article shows you exactly what to expect.
Does 23andMe Show Famous Relatives?
23andMe has a feature that suggests some famous relatives in one or two of their Ancestry reports. The connection is based on haplogroups, which predict a common ancestor from thousands of years ago.
My 23andMe maternal haplogroup report tells me I’m related to Marie Antoinette, Prince Philip, and Copernicus.
Before I show you what you get in the haplogroup reports, I’ll address if you can expect to learn about famous living relatives amongst your DNA cousins.
Don’t Expect Famous Names In Your DNA Relatives Report
23andMe is mostly about three big features:
- Health reports
- Ethnicity estimates
- DNA Relatives
The third feature is a list of up to 1,500 23andMe members with whom you share significant amounts of DNA.
You can often figure out your connection with hitherto unknown second cousins. This will be common great-grandparents. Your many hundreds of fifth cousins are more challenging.
It’s possible that a famous celebrity has DNA tested with 23andMe and is sitting somewhere in your list of DNA cousins. But will you recognize them?
There’s no obligation on 23andMe customers to show their full names if they choose to participate in DNA matching. Some use their initials. Here are some of my fourth cousins in the 23andMe relatives’ display:
However, check out our article on whether 23andMe shows you full names of relatives. A whopping 87% of mine do so.
Celebrities may be part of the 13% that are not so open!
How 23andMe Shows Famous Relatives In Haplogroup Reports
I’m going to explain how 23andMe presents famous relatives. You can decide how useful this is.
23andMe shows one or more famous relatives in your Haplogroup reports. These reports are part of the standard 23andMe package.
To find your haplogroup reports, scroll down the Ancestry page past the links to DNA relatives and to your Neanderthal ancestry.
Male and female customers will have a maternal haplogroup. Only men have a paternal haplogroup, as it is identified through the Y chromosome. ( Women have two X chromosomes).
But what is a Haplogroup? It’s a group of people who share a distant common ancestor. This ancestor will be from an era thousands of years ago.
For example, the H haplogroup is passed down through female lines. About 40% of Europeans have the H haplogroup. I’m one of this huge number.
A Sample Haplogroup Report
This is part of my maternal haplogroup report:
This is where 23andMe shows me one famous relative: Marie Antoinette. What 23andMe is saying here is that Marie Antoinette also had the H haplogroup. But how could they know?
It’s based on this research project which analyzed the DNA of the supposed heart of Louis XVII, the son of Marie Antoinette. The mitochondrial DNA of this male was the H haplogroup. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is inherited only from the mother. Who in this case was Marie Antoinette (if the correct body was identified).
23andMe mention another couple of famous relatives through the H haplogroup: Prince Philip and Copernicus. And that’s it!
Finding More Famous Haplogroup Relatives
If you’re really interested in discovering more Haplogroup relatives, run an internet search using your own haplogroup.
There are many scientific research projects which have identified the haplogroups of notable people. These include historic figures, but you’ll also find the haplogroups of living famous people who have volunteered their information.
Isn’t This Relationship A Little…Distant?
I must admit that I giggled when I saw the tree representation of my relationship with Marie Antoinette. It’s just a tad trimmed down from a real family tree (I jest, it’s enormously trimmed down!).
I calculate that our common ancestor is over 500 generations back from me (a little less for “Cousin Marie”). And two-fifths of Europe should be at my level of leaf in this tree.
My guess is that most people are more interested in connections that can be investigated within the time frame of a realistic family tree. This may limit the common ancestors to the eighteenth or seventeenth century. The time frame broadly depends on the availability of genealogical records.
But 23andMe doesn’t have a feature of hosting traditional family trees. It has what it calls genetic trees, which are completely different. If you want to find more recent connections to famous relatives, you’ll have to look to other sites.
The rest of this article covers these options:
Geni’s Famous Relatives Finder
The World Family Tree on Geni.com seeks to merge all user-submitted family trees into one giant tree. If you add your own family tree to Geni.com, you may connect up with the trees of other members.
Most of the members are ordinary people like most of us. But Geni also has a set of famous people scattered through the World Family Tree. These include notable historical figures and modern celebrities.
Geni’s Popular Profiles
This is the full list of famous Geni tree profiles. At the time of writing, the two top famous profiles are Joe Biden and Queen Elizabeth II.
The first page is full of American presidents and European royalty. I’ve got more details on how to use Geni to find famous relatives in this article.
Make Sure You Understand Collaborative Trees
If you want to use Geni to find famous relatives, you will need to create an account on the website and add a tree. Before you rush off to add your family tree to Geni, you should understand some of the consequences of joining a Collaborative Tree website. Some people get quite surprised and upset by Geni’s features, which may allow other members to edit tree profiles that you originally added.
This article explains how the Geni World Family Tree works. Our article also links to a tutorial on uploading a family tree to Geni. And it will point you towards an article on removing your family tree from Geni (which may prove difficult).
Famous Relatives On The FamilySearch Website
FamilySearch.org is a genealogy website that operates a giant collaborative tree.
While Geni.com has free and paid membership tiers, all features of FamilySearch are available to a free account.
If you create or upload your family tree to the FamilySearch website, you can access a report listing your suggested famous relatives. Of course, you may find none at all. I’ve got more details on using FamilySearch to find famous relatives here.
A quick warning on collaborative trees
I warned about understanding the consequences of collaborative trees in the prior section on Geni. Be aware that other people may be able to edit what you add to these sites. And you may find it difficult to remove content.
This is in contrast to Ancestry and MyHeritage, where you own your family tree.
Ancestry’s Discontinued We’re Related App
Ancestry released a mobile app in 2016 that suggested famous relatives to users. The app was called “We’re Related”, and was also integrated with Facebook.
The app utilized Ancestry’s massive database of family trees to try to identify connections between users and famous people.
Ancestry retired the We’re Related app in 2019, and it is no longer available. If you want to know more about what you’re missing, I have more details in this article on Ancestry’s We’re Related app.
More About 23andMe Haplogroups
If you’re interested in learning more about 23andMe haplogroup reports, we have an article that focuses on the 23andMe paternal haplogroup report.
The article includes a link to a full paternal haplogroup report. So if you’d like to see what this is before you make a purchase, go check out the article. The actual title is – does 23andMe test Y-DNA.