In the past year I have noticed an increase of interest over DNA testing for genealogy. I get the questions about it too often. I had not dared write before about this topic in part of my lack of knowledge on the subject and also for the fear of providing you with the wrong information. As for the first I will provide you with what I have learned on how DNA can help you locate your ancestors and distant cousins, the top testing companies, some books to enhance your knowledge, and some recommendations. To avoid providing you with the wrong information I will avoid talking on technical terms.
DNA Can Help you Locate Your Ancestors and Distant Cousins
I have only tested my DNA with AncestryDNA and therefore I will be referring to this company more than any of the others since I have yet to test with them. I have too often told everyone that the real value and the worst that Ancestry.com has to offer are the user generated family trees. They are the greatest resource that they have since you can very easily find ancestors in those trees and thus they are an awesome resource. Now, they are also a huge problem since about over 90% of them are not sourced and or even worse they source another Ancestry user family tree. That is another reason that I always caution everyone to be careful of what they copy and to only use those trees for clues as to where to find documents. I always recommend that they never copy everything as if it were the truth because often time it is not.
Now why am I talking about this, simply because AncestrysDNA program uses those trees to help match you with possible cousins. Ancestry uses Your DNA to match you to other members that have similar DNA markers to you thus predicting a possible relationship. Then it tries to match similarities in your family tree to try and estimate common ancestors between you and every other member in their database.
Usually one would need to have a paid membership with Ancestry in order to see member trees but this is not the case if you took your DNA test. You get to see all your matches family trees for free as long as they are public. If they are private you will have to go a step further and ask the other person to let you see their tree.
Once you get your DNA results you will find more distant cousins than what you would know what to do with at least that was my case. They are the key to finding your ancestors, once you find cousins with similar family trees as yours you can network with them to try and bring down brick walls and or provide each other with needed documents about particular ancestors. Now that I have provided you with how DNA is useful let me provide you with the types of testing there is.
Types of DNA Testing
atDNA – This is the autosomal test that is based on your chromosomes. This test looks into all the possible DNA inherited from your ancestors and thus is the one used to provide you with cousin matches.
y-DNA – This type of test only looks at DNA passed down from father to son in your paternal line.
mtDNA – This test only looks at your maternal DNA passed down from mother to daughter.
Now that you know what types of tests are out there let me tell you about the top three companies that I recommend that you use, in case you decide to test your DNA. I have used one of them and the rest are what our readers have used and recommend.
Top Three Genealogy DNA Testing Companies
AncestryDNA – This company is very popular and is great to locate cousins. It only provides the Autosomal DNA test. It basically looks at DNA that you may have inherited from your ancestors and then looks for other people with he same matches.
FamilyTreeDNA – This company offers the y-DNA which looks at only your father’s paternal line. They also have the mtDNA and thsi test looks only at your mother’s direct female line. They also offer a test called Family Finder and it is an autosomal test just like Ancestrys. They are also the home of the Mexico DNA Project.
23andMe – According to their website they seem to do a similar test to the autosomal and also test for y-DNA and mtDNA all in one package. I need to test them out. If anyone has used their services please let me know.
Other Great Resources
Gedmatch – Website to let you further analyse your DNA results and also find others that are a close match to you. How to use Gedmatch PDF Also check you tube for videos on how to use GEDMatch: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=gedmatch
Further Reading and Learning
moisesgarza.com – Check out my various blog posts about DNA testign with AncestryDNA here: http://www.dnatestingforgenealogyhq.com/blog/
Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond – This is an awesome book that will explain the different tests in detail and how each can help you solve specific problems when it come to your ancestors. I highly recommend you read it if you are serious about DNA testing.
DNA Surname Project – Gary Felix website about DNA testing and the Genealogy of Mexico DNA Surname Project.
Adoptions and DNA
This is another topic that come up too often. If you are adopted and are seeking your family DNA is a great tool. Remember you will get possible cousin matches. Here is a great website to get yous tarted in your search with DNA: http://dnaadoption.com/ I also recommend that you check out the following book Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA
I hope that this post empowers you to look beyond documents and archives and helps you enter into the new frontier in genealogy that is of DNA research. As I mentioned before I am not an expert and I still consider myself to lack knowledge in this area. I just wanted you to have at your disposal the same resources that I have used and or know of.