Why should I do DNA testing?
You really don’t know what will be found until you complete a test. You may find unknown close relatives or fill in family tree gaps.
I have not had much success with my family tree. Should I still do DNA testing?
Yes, but do not expect DNA testing to make up for the lack of research on your family tree. Maybe some of the people with whom you are matched will be eager genealogy researchers who will be extra helpful to determine who is your shared common ancestor.
Can both women and men take these tests?
Males have a better advantage in DNA testing. Only men can test for their paternal line. Men also can test for their maternal line. Women can take a test for their maternal line and a combined test for their maternal and paternal lines. The combined test does not tell whether matches come from the maternal or paternal line.
Who should I have tested?
I recommend asking the oldest relatives to take the tests. If you are struggling with your family trees, test the males from the different family surnames. That will make it easier to determine how the matches are connected to your family.
What are the most popular DNA companies for genealogy research?
What is the difference between AncestryDNA and FamilyTreeDNA?
Ancestrydna will give you a list of matches, the determined connection- sister/brother, aunt/uncle, 1st cousin, 2nd cousin, 3rd cousin, etc. and their ethnic background by percentage. Then, if a match provides a family tree, Ancestrydna provides a list of surnames for direct ancestors up to 10 generations and a list of places where those people were born. A map of where your direct ancestors were born will be used to show how far away your match’s ancestors were born. You can e-mail those with private trees for an invitation to their trees. Some people will not answer your e-mail messages.
FamilyTreeDNA provides much more information. It gives each match’s relationship range (1st-5th cousins, uncles, etc.), the amount of DNA in common, the longest block of DNA in common and a list of family surnames (if provided by the match). Most matches give their e-mail address and some provide their family trees. FamilyTreeDNA also allows you to check whether any of your matches have the same matches as you. This helps to interconnect the matches. FamilyTreeDNA also has a chromosome browser to show where your matches land on the chromosomes. If some land in the same location on the same chromosome, that means everyone has a common ancestor. The site also has a very helpful and active forum.
Which DNA testing company do you recommend?
I recommend FamilyTreeDNA because the information and features offered for customers. The forum is so useful in understanding DNA genealogy.
Which tests do you recommend?
For testing male lines, I recommend starting with the Y-DNA37 test from FamilyTreeDNA. This is the weakest paternal line test but you can always upgrade to the stronger test later if you get a lot of matches. DNA companies seem to have a larger database for western European ancestry. It is better to play it safe with Russian and Ukrainian ancestry.
I recommend the mtFullSequence test from FamilyTreeDNA for studying the maternal line. The weaker maternal line tests only will give you matches so far back in time that it will be impossible to determine common ancestors. You will need to know many of your maternal surnames.
The FamilyFinder test from FamilyTreeDNA picks up matches for all family lines so this may be the test for those who are cautious about what DNA genealogy can offer. You can always upgrade to mtFullSequence or Y-DNA tests. FamilyTreeDNA has sales throughout the year.
Tell me more about the new test Ancestry.com is promoting.
Ancestry.com will give you a breakdown of your ethnicity- southern European, Finnish/Vogal-Ural, eastern European, European Jewish, etc.- by percentage. With 45 percent Finnish/Vogal-Ural ancestry (current day Finland and western Russia), I am not getting many matches with strong Russian ancestry. I get a lot of useless matches with strong British ancestry. Maybe you will have more success in finding matches to those with German, Polish and other European ancestry than Russian and Ukrainian ancestry.