When most people take a DNA test from Ancestry, 23andMe, or any other testing company, they often just want to know their “ethnicity” results and nothing else. But there is so much more to discover.
With that in mind, I am bolstering my DNA education in the next 6 months. I joined Diahan Southard’s DNA Study Group, which is a yearlong journey into all aspects of DNA and I’m taking a DNA course from IGHR (Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research) at the end of the month. You can learn more about Diahan Southard at her website, www.yourdnaguide.com. She also has a wonderful YouTube channel with free information.
So, what are the reasons you might want to include DNA in your genealogy research?
Ethnicity. I know, I know… I just downplayed this in my opening sentence, but it’s still important to know and can be very useful in your genealogy research. Even just looking at the results comparing my sister and me, you can see the difference in the DNA we inherited:
Verifying Ancestral Lineage/Brick Walls. If you’ve already done a ton of work on your family tree, but it’s all been with documentary evidence, DNA can verify those lines. You can compare the DNA between you and many (MANY!) matches to confirm the identities of your ancestors. This can be helpful when the paper trail runs dry and you need another way to see if what you have is correct. DNA can also help determine a common ancestor you have with one of your matches and possibly break through those ancestral brick walls.
Connecting with unknown cousins. This may be one of the better reasons to have your DNA tested. By finding DNA matches, you can connect with living descendants who have stories and possible heirlooms you don’t have. This is a wonderful way to bring your ancestors to life and begin relationships with new family members.
Whatever the reason for having your DNA tested, it can add a new dimension to your family history. Contact me if I can help piece together your ancestral puzzle.
Genealogy tip: You never know where people are going to test, so why not test with all the companies to have the best chance to answer your genealogy question? One of the easiest ways to do this is to transfer your data. For example, if you test at Ancestry you can upload your raw results to places like MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA and unlock their tools for a small fee.