Genetic Genealogy

Thanks to WikiTree for the following  information

Why Take a Test?

A DNA test can tell you about your ethnicity. This can be very interesting. However, for most genealogists, it’s all about the matches — you want to see which other test-takers share significant segments of your DNA.

Your matches are your close or distant cousins. Some of them may have family history information that you don’t have.

Moreover, your matches can help you do something incredible: scientifically confirm your family tree. You think you know who your ancestors are. Now you can prove it, because your DNA is their DNA. You might even discover exactly which ancestors gave you which segments of your DNA.

Confirming your ancestors with DNA can be difficult but it’s an exciting and fascinating project.

For our listing of Olmste(a)ds  and direct descendants who wish to exchange information with other cousins, click HERE.

Types of Tests

The most popular DNA tests for genealogy are what are called autosomal DNA tests. This is the test AncestryDNAMyHeritageDNA23andMe and Family Tree DNA sell for about $99.

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Autosomal tests are what almost everyone is talking about when they say “DNA test” these days. But there are two other types that have been used for genealogy for much longer and are still extremely valuable for particular purposes:

  1. Y chromosome (YDNA) tests. These are only for men. They tell you about your direct paternal line: a son inherits his Y chromosome from his father, who inherited it from his father, etc. Conveniently for genealogists, this is also how surnames are usually inherited.
  2. Mitochondrial (mtDNA) tests. Mitochondrial DNA is inherited by a child from his or her mother, so mtDNA tests tell you about your direct maternal line.

Which Test Should You Choose?

 Which type of test?

The sheer popularity and low price of autosomal DNA tests means that almost everyone should start with one of these (AncestryDNAMyHeritageDNA23andMe or Family Tree DNA‘s Family Finder test).

Y and mt tests are still awesome tools for genealogy. Their great advantages:

  1. They can be used for very deep ancestry. Autosomal tests can only confirm genealogy within the past 200 or 300 hundred years at most.
  2. Confirmation is simpler because you know exactly where the DNA came from: the ancestors in your direct paternal line (YDNA) or maternal line (mtDNA). Your autosomal DNA is a mix of all your ancestors.

Which testing company?

For Y and mt you don’t have a lot of choices. Go to Family Tree DNA.

For autosomal, all the major testing companies (AncestryDNAMyHeritageDNA23andMe and Family Tree DNA) offer essentially the same product. Some serious genealogists get tested at all the major companies.

If the test is the same, why take more than one? Because less serious genealogists take just one.

In other words, each company will give you different “cousin” matches as each company has its own customer base. If you want to see if you match anyone who’s taken the AncestryDNA test, you have to take the AncestryDNA test. If you want to see if you match anyone who’s taken the 23andMe test, you have to take the 23andMe test, etc.

Of course, testing with multiple companies is expensive. If you’re just getting started or can only choose one, which testing company should you choose?

Unless one of them is having a sale (it’s worth clicking over to check), we’d usually recommend AncestryDNA.

  1. AncestryDNA has by far the largest customer base, i.e. the most potential “cousin” matches.
  2. Most of their customers are interested in genealogy, whereas on 23andMe the test-takers may be more interested in health.
  3. Their customers are more likely to have a family tree that’s on the site.
  4. Ancestry is the easiest to use.

That said, Ancestry does not have the most powerful tools as theirs and the other autosomal tests only produces a generalized geographic heritage report. If you feel serious about genetic genealogy, go straight to our friends at Family Tree DNA.

Family Tree DNA also has surname projects for those taking the Y-DNA. Read more on our Olmste(a)d DNA Project page.

If you’re interested in the health-related offerings, go to 23andMe. If you’re just interested in ancestry but are going with 23andMe anyway, be sure to select their ancestry-only test.

Ordering a Test

To order a test, or just check for sales, please follow these links:

If you are e-mailing a family member or friend or posting on Facebook or a forum, use one of the above URLs to make sure that WikiTree gets credit for the referral. Thank you!



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Place by the Elms © Walt Steesy, 2007-2017
and © Olmste(a)d Family Association, 2017-2024
Last Updated March 23, 2018

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