New AncestryDNA results add confusion

I didn’t know what to expect when I heard that Ancestry.com was refining its ethnicity results for the DNA test customers.

AncestryDNA originally told me that I was 45 percent Finnish/Volga-Ural Russian, 51 percent Eastern European and 4 percent unknown. Now, I am 81 percent Europe East,  16 percent Finnish/Northern Russia, 2 percent Asia East and less than 1 percent Melanesian.

Talk about confusion. I have several family tree lines back to the 1600s and 1700s. My documented Russian ancestry comes from central Russia, northern Caucasus region and Volga-Ural Russia.

I have yet to find any ancestry from Finland or northern Russia. This Asia East ancestry could come from a far distant ancestor that I have yet to discover from Far East Russia.  The Melanesian ancestry could be meaningless.

I also have tested with Family Tree DNA, which didn’t give me any interesting information on my ancestor’s true roots. FamilyTree DNA determined I am 100 percent European, with ancestry that could be Basque, Finnish, French, Orcadian, Romanian, Russian, Sardinian, Spanish or Tuscan. That is hardly useful.

I have not tested with 23andme but it still seems AncestryDNA offers the most precise information on ancestral roots even though I cannot prove the latest results, except for East Europe. The highlighted area for East Europe covers my documented “German” ancestry from Poland, in addition to an area of Russia from where I don’t have any documented ancestors.

AncestryDNA charges $99 for its test and will likely offer a sale for the holiday season. It is worth the price if you have done enough work on your family tree or just want the information.

FAQ- DNA testing for Russians and Ukrainians

Updated September 13, 2019

Are Russians and Ukrainians really doing DNA testing yet?

The number of matches I have with Russians and Ukrainians have made DNA testing worth it. The largest Russian genealogy forum has an active section for DNA testing. The interest in DNA testing is growing each year in the former USSR.

Many Russians and Ukrainians escaped from the USSR so those families are living worldwide. Great potential exists in DNA testing for those with Russian and Ukrainian ancestry.

Why should I do DNA testing?

You won’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?

Yes, but only men can test for their paternal line, the Y-DNA test. Men also can test for their maternal line, the MTDNA test, and the combined paternal and maternal lines test, the autosomal test. Women can take the MTDNA test and autosomal test. The autosomal test does not tell whether matches come from the maternal or paternal line until the tester’s mother and/or father have tested with the same company.

Who should I have tested?

I recommend asking the oldest relatives to take the tests first and then test yourself and close relatives. 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?

The main DNA testing companies for genealogy are Ancestry FamilyTreeDNA, 23andme and MyHeritage.  Only FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage ship their tests to Russia and Ukraine.

How can I learn more about what their tests offer?

See the reviews of the companies here:

A Russian-American’s insider view of the 23andme Autosomal Test
A Russian-American’s inside view of the new AncestryDNA test
A Russian-American’s insider view of the MyHeritage DNA test
A Russian-American’s insider view of the Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder Test

Which DNA testing company do you recommend?

See this post for recommendations, based on various interests and backgrounds- Guide for making the best choices in DNA testing

Which tests do you recommend?

For testing male lines, I recommend starting with the Y-DNA37 test from Family Tree DNA. Once matches are seen at this level, try an upgrade to the tests with more DNA markers  for stronger 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 Family Tree DNA 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 autosomal test that combines maternal and paternal lines can be done with the four DNA testing companies.

How much do DNA tests cost?

The Family Finder test (autosomal) is $79 US dollars at Family Tree DNA. The same test is $99 US dollars at Ancestry and 23andme and $79 US dollars at MyHeritage. Y-DNA tests start at $169 US dollars at Family Tree DNA.

When is the best time to buy DNA tests?

The four companies are competing for customers so sales are held throughout the year. The biggest sales seem to be held during the holiday season. After the holiday season period, watch the four big companies’ websites for sales or follow them on Twitter to learn quicker about their sales.

Here are the Twitter pages: Family Tree DNA, 23andme, MyHeritage and Ancestry.