Understanding DNA Tests

Have you gotten the bug yet and taken a DNA test?   Once you receive the results, are you totally confused?   There is definitely a huge learning curve, as you have probably found out.

Genetic genealogy or DNA testing can tell you, at its most basic level:

  • If you and another person are related /descended from the same individual
  • If you and someone else with the same surname are related
  • If your genealogical research is on the right track
  • What area of the world your paternal and maternal lines come from, as well as giving you an idea of your ethnic origins

It is very important to remember that most of the value of genetic genealogy (DNA testing for family history research purposes) is in the comparison and matching of your DNA results to others. Just because we have DNA testing does not mean we can throw exacting traditional research techniques out the window!  Think of it as a marriage between two methods of finding and providing our family history – traditional genealogy research and DNA testing.

A brief but comprehensive explanation of the types of DNA tests and what you can find is available in a document provided by Mary Katherine Kozy and is well worth taking the time to read.

There are several sites that do DNA testing, including Family Tree DNA, 23&Me and AncestryDNA.   You may choose to test with one or all of the companies and each one is completely reliable.   Comparing the tests can be a new problem, though.   One comparison site is Gedmatch.

If you are new to using GedMatch or want a brief overview of how it works, you may want to read a previous blog post on “Ten Tips for Making the Most of Gedmatch”.

Once you have uploaded your DNA results to GedMatch, the test results are not always a 100% match.   The Legal Genealogist explains why this happens.

Uploading your tree to GedMatch is explained by The Young & Savvy Genealogists on their blog page.

Did you know that many cousins don’t share enough measurable DNA to get caught in DNA application filters? By using the GEDCOM search at GedMatch you can find people who have your relatives in their family tree even if you only share small amounts of DNA,  The blog post How to find DNA cousins on Gedmatch with a Gedcom search provides information on how to conduct a search.

Good luck with finding more family research information using DNA results!