Genetic genealogy uses the results of DNA testing along with traditional genealogy research methods to prove relationships.  DNA can help fill in the gaps where paper records no longer exist or are restricted.  Courthouse fires, adoption, and unknown ancestral parentage are all areas where DNA testing can augment the paper research.

If you are feeling stuck or want some personal guidance with your DNA results, I can help!  I provide genetic genealogy consulting to help you interpret your results, understand how your matches relate to you and develop a testing plan based on your research needs. Feel free to contact me with any question.

What DNA test should I take?

The type of DNA test you take depends on the question that you are trying to answer.  There are three types to DNA tests on the market which can assist you in your research.

  • Y DNA: Y DNA is passed down from father to son, almost unchanged, for generations.  A Y DNA test can help answer questions about a male’s paternal line.  Possible questions could relate to a child’s birth where the father is unknown, adoption, or in the case of Y surname studies, can help distinguish a possible ancestor when there are several possibilities.  Women can not take this test because they inherit two X chromosomes, one from each parent, and do not have a Y chromosome.
  • mtDNA: Also known as mitochondrial DNA, is passed from a mother to her children, either male or female.  However only females pass this type of DNA on to their children.  For this reason, mtDNA can be useful in researching the maternal line, or your mother’s mother’s mother … etc.  This DNA test can be the more challenging to work with of the three types but when successful can be useful in confirming relationships.
  • Autosomal DNA:  This test is often referred to as a family or cousin finder test because it helps fill in the gaps for the relationships that Y or mtDNA can not cover.  This is one of the most popular tests to take and is often on sale at the various testing companies.  Autosomal DNA can help determine your degree of relationship with the individuals you match.  This type of test is very helpful in all areas of genealogical research.

Which company should I test with?

There are many companies providing DNA testing.  However not all of these companies provide testing that is useful for genetic genealogy purposes.  There are only three companies worth spending your hard earned money on for genealogical research.  These companies have large databases that compare the results of their users to each other to determine possible relationships.  The three companies, along with the tests they provide are:

  • AncestryDNA : AncestryDNA is a product of Ancestry.com and offers Autosomal DNA testing.
  • FamilyTreeDNA : Offers all three types of DNA testing; Y DNA, mtDNA and Autosomal.  After testing you can join various surname, lineage and geographical projects to further your research through collaborating with others.
  • 23andMe : Offers only Autosomal DNA testing.  In addition to matching results, 23andMe also provides various genetic reports.

Each of these companies have Facebook, Twitter and other social media profiles. Join or follow each of them for product updates and sales, which are offered several times during the year.