Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
Ancestry refers to your line of descent; typically, your bloodline and the direct-line relationships through which you can trace your family into the past. Ancestry may collectively refer to all of your ancestors, but it may also refer to general heritage such a region, nationality, or ethnic group with which you identify. A person may be of mixed ancestry; for example, Irish on one side, Italian on the other, or some other combination. One's ancestry is often shown through the use of a pedigree chart. Pedigree and lineage are other words used to describe ancestry.
Discoverying one's ancestry is the focus of genealogical research. When you share a common ancestry with another person, it implies a blood relationship and suggests that somewhere along the line, two or more individuals trace back to a single, common ancestor, perhaps to a common immigrant ancestor. Today, DNA studies are often done to confirm ancestral relationships and help people identify the ancestral group from which they descend.