How To Change The Home Person On An Ancestry tree

This question pops up now and then on forums. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to change the home person in your family tree on Ancestry.com.

A Quick Guide To Changing the Home Person on an Ancestry Tree

To change the home person on an Ancestry tree:

  1. Open the Tree Settings page.
  2. A house icon on the Tree Info tab shows the current home person.
  3. Click the “change” link.
  4. Start typing a name or browse a list of every entry
  5. Select a new Home Person

An Illustrated Tutorial On How to Change the Home Person on Ancestry

To open the Tree Settings, you can use the drop-down menu within the tree itself. The cog icon is a link to the Tree Settings page.

You will land on the Tree Info tab, which is exactly where you want to be.

The right-hand column holds the settings for the Home Person. The current Home Person is displayed under the house icon.

You will use the “change” link if you want to assign Home Person status to a different person in this tree. The new person does have to be already in your tree, so go ahead and create the entry if you haven’t already done so. Then you can hit the change link here.

This takes you to a dialog box where you choose the person you want to set. You can start typing in a name of someone in your tree, and Ancestry’s autosuggestion will show you matches. Their birth and death dates are included, which is useful if there are several entries of the same name. In the example below, I started typing in John – and the entry for a John Smith is suggested.

If you don’t type into the box, you’ll see a link that allows you to browse through a list of all entries in your tree. If you have a big tree already, you can use the search feature to search on names.

A Video Walkthrough Of How To Change the Home Person in your Ancestry Tree

What Is The Home Person In An Ancestry Tree?

The Home Person is the anchor for the tree. It’s the place that Ancestry brings you when you click on the Home icon, which is very useful when you’re getting lost inside a big tree.

Even more useful, Ancestry defines the relationship of each tree profile in the context of the home person. When you’ve navigated to a far-off branch, you can open a profile and see a simple description of how this person is related to you.

When I say simple, you do need a grasp of what “times removed” means in terms of a cousin relationship. But if you click on the relationship link, you get the step-by-step connection with every person in the chain between yourself and the target.

Sometimes it’s enough just to see mention that this is the “husband of 2nd cousin” to realize you’re looking at the in-law, and may not need to investigate his parents.

You, The Home Person, And DNA

When you are setting or changing the Home Person in a tree, Ancestry asks you if this represents yourself in the tree. It’s particularly important to confirm this is you if you have done a DNA test with Ancestry and are building your genetic tree.

Some of Ancestry’s automated features are driven by these settings. This includes ThruLines. With the ThruLines feature, Ancestry uses family trees, DNA matching, and the Home Persons of each tree. The three elements are used to try to identify how you are connected with your matches through the most recent common ancestors.

It’s also important not to set yourself as the Home Person if you are creating a tree for another family member.

What If You’re In An Ancestry Tree But You Are Not The Home Person?

You may have created the tree for your parent or your child, and assigned them as the Home Person. But you are also in this tree. What do you do?

Underneath the Home Person is the question: “who you are in this tree?” In most trees, this setting will be the same as the Home Person. However, if you created the tree for your parent or child, then you should change this setting and choose your separate entry.

Setting the Home Person When Creating A New Ancestry Tree

You may not remember explicitly setting the Home Person when you first created your tree. Here’s a reminder of the opening sequence when you create a new tree.

See how it explicitly states that you start by adding a home person? You can’t actually do anything else. For example, you can’t skip the Home Person and add parent details – those icons can’t be clicked yet. The only way forward is to click the black box, which takes you to this dialog page:

Your first entry is the Home Person by default. If you want otherwise, then uncheck the setting I’ve highlighted with an arrow.

Notice how there are no boxes for death details? That’s because the Status is preselected to Living. If you uncheck the “I am starting with myself” box, Ancestry automatically toggles the Status to the deceased setting. Hey presto, the death details are exposed. You can always set the status back to Living again if that represents the situation more accurately.

What To Do If You’re Not In The Tree At All?

An Ancestry user described a thorny problem on a social forum. She had created a tree for her friend, who was no relation. When she started the tree, she entered the details of the friend as the Home Person, but mistakenly left the “I am starting with myself” box selected.

She was puzzled by how to fix this until she spotted the right route to take. It’s an option beside the “change” link, named “set to none”. This decouples the tree creator from the tree.

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Margaret O'Brien

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