Skip to main content

Introduction to Group Projects

Group Projects provide communities for people who are interested in pursuing information about a specific topic related to their genealogy.

These Group Projects are run by volunteer administrators*, people like you, who are working on their own genealogy and facilitate their Group Project members’ research using DNA test results. Please note that since projects base research on members’ DNA testing results, to join a project you must test with, manage, or transfer results to FamilyTreeDNA. Other than the price of the test to join the FamilyTreeDNA database, there is no charge to become a member of a Group Project - it’s free!


*These volunteers agree to abide by FamilyTreeDNA’s Group Project Administrator Terms and Policies in addition to the site Terms of Service and Privacy Statement that apply to all customers.

Accessing Group Projects

If you are not signed into your account, or if you do not have a FamilyTreeDNA account, you can access the list of available group projects from the FTDNA Homepage:

  1. Go to www.familytreedna.com
  2. Scroll to the very bottom of the page and locate the column titled Community.
  3. Click on Group Projects

If you do have a FamilyTreeDNA account, you can also access the Group Projects from your navigation bar:

  1. Sign in to your kit.
  2. On the navigation bar at the top of the page, go to Group Projects > Join a Project.

Who can join a project?

Requirements for joining a project are set by the administrator and can vary widely. To join a project, you will need a DNA test from FamilyTreeDNA or a test result transfer from another company. You can read about autosomal transfers here and Y-DNA transfers here.

If a project requires a type of DNA test that you are personally unable to get, it is possible to have a relative tested and for you to administer their account. For example, women do not have the Y chromosome, so if you are interested in joining a project requiring a Y-DNA test, you can join your male relative’s kit to the project and access it by signing in to their kit. Another example is if you are tracing a direct paternal ancestor on a line other than your own.

Some projects require a "join" request to be completed before admittance. This is to ensure that the criteria for that specific project are met. This criteria varies by project and is at the Group Administrator's discretion.

Types of Group Projects

Geographical Project

Geographical projects focus on a specific region of the world and are not usually specific to a particular DNA Type.

Surname Projects

Surname Projects focus on a particular surname and variant spellings of that surname (eg. Brewster, Bruster, Brewer). As surnames are typically carried through the direct paternal line, these groups typically require a Y-DNA test, though some 

Haplogroup Projects

Haplogroups study particular Y-DNA or mtDNA haplogroups or their subclades and almost always require a Y-DNA or mtDNA test, respectively.

mtDNA Lineage Projects

In many cultures, women take on the surname of their husband, and it is not passed to their children. This can make tracing direct maternal lineages difficult. mtDNA lineage projects are designed to study these direct maternal lineages regardless of name changes, as mtDNA is passed down maternally.

Family Finder Projects

Family Finder Projects were originally developed as a way of researching the descendants of an ancestral couple using the Family Finder test. These were usually one at the limits of autosomal reach or about five to six generations in the past. However, they have evolved to be broader in scope and can contain multiple test types. They are often used for specific research projects that do not neatly fall into any other category, or by people doing private family studies or who manage multiple kits as a way to access their own family members’ results.

Participating in Group Projects

Group Projects offer a message forum called the Activity Feed to help communicate with other project members and share genealogical information. Many groups include helpful links to relevant third-party sites such as genealogical and family associations and informative wikis. From the Group Project page, you can also compare your Y-DNA and mtDNA results with other members and find the contact information for your Group Administrator. Due to privacy concerns, the amount of information shared about other project members is limited, though the administrator(s) can act as intermediaries if you wish to contact them directly.

Project Privacy

Joining a project does expose some identifying information about you to the project volunteer administrator. It may also expose non-identifying information about you through the project’s Public Project Website.

The project volunteer administrator can see your results and some of the information listed in your myFTDNA account such as your contact information. The project volunteer administrator will not be able to see your password. You will be able to edit the access level given to Group Administrators in your account:

  1. Sign in to your kit.
  2. On the navigation bar at the top of the page, hover your mouse over your name and Kit No. in the upper right-hand corner of the page.
  3. Click Account Settings.

Projects often set up a website on which member results are posted. How these results are identified is up to the project volunteer administrator. Results are often listed by the participant’s oldest known ancestor, kit number, or last name. You may wish to discuss what information will be available on the project’s website before joining a project.

How many projects can I join?

We do not restrict the number of projects a customer can join; however, it is important to note that while FamilyTreeDNA does not impose a limit to the number of projects one can join, we will not tolerate customers joining multiple projects with the purpose of data mining or finding information that is not relevant to one’s personal ancestral origins. FamilyTreeDNA reserves the right to remove people from projects at its sole discretion or if it feels that a participant is abusing the system in a way that may infringe another participant’s privacy.

Will participating in a project limit my matches? Will I still be able to match against the entire database?

Project participation will not limit your ability to discover matches in the entire FamilyTreeDNA database. In fact, fellow project members have expanded Y-DNA 12 matching to allow for a GD of 1. In other words, those who match you on both 11 out of 12 markers and 12 out of 12 markers will appear in your match list if you are both in the same project.

In addition, on your matches pages in your FamilyTreeDNA account, you can filter your matches by Group Project.

What happens to my results if I decide to leave a project?

Your results are not affected by project participation or by the decision not to participate in a project.

Submit Feedback