I recently got my DNA tested for genealogical purposes, and thought I’d do a little write-up on what you actually get for your money, and the difference between some sites. Keep in mind, as a girl I can’t get as detailed results, and this doesn’t compare all available tests, just what you can do on different sites through uploading results from one of them.
Note: I am not being paid to do any of this, it’s just my own experience and opinions. I do plan on taking tests through other sites, and getting other family members to take them as well, it’s just a matter of saving up! Also, there are privacy concerns that come from these, especially in certain parts of the world; I’m not getting into those. I decided it was fine for me, and you should do the same for yourself.
I got my test from Ancestry.ca as I already had built an extensive family tree, and knew that I could upload my Ancestry results to a lot of other sites, but not vice versa.
I got my results much quicker than the estimated 6-8 weeks (I think it was about 1 week after mailing them in that we heard back), and here is what I saw;
Given that I had done a lot of genealogical research, I wasn’t surprised by this initial breakdown. I was a little disappointed to see that I wasn’t part of any Genetic Communities yet, but they do update their results, and they keep your sample so it can be tested again, so hopefully I’ll see a change to that at some point.
There’s a map that shows where you come from as well, which would be a bit more interesting if you were more spread out than I am. Nice visual I guess, either way.
When I went into the more detailed breakdown, I was more surprised. Not by the groups that were there, but by their order; I knew I had a lot of German ancestors, and would have expected Europe West to be higher up, same goes for Scandinavia, as I know I had some Swedish relatives. I guess that means that, while I had family living there, they weren’t necessarily ethnically from that region, which is interesting. Will have to look at some migration patterns and see if there’s likely causes for that.
I also didn’t know of any Italian/Greek ancestry, though of course that’s listed as a very small amount, and the Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal), seems very out of place to me.
Under “low confidence regions” it suggests there may be some Polynesian ancestry as well, but that seems unlikely given the research I’ve done. We’ll see if that changes as they update things.
DNA Matches – Family Members
Finally, through Ancestry, you get to see if you have any distant relatives on the site. As I am mostly interested in genealogy, this is the main thing for me, and I’ll be working my way through. A lot were obvious connections from the start, but despite having traced most lines back 6-10 generations, there are still relatives that pop up that I can’t find a connection to through surnames, so that should be fun. It hasn’t yet helped me get through any of the “brick walls” I’m hoping it will, but I’ve just started, so I’ll update if it does.
The site familytreedna.com allows you to upload the txt. file of your DNA results from Ancestry or 23andMe and has some options available to view for free. You can upload the info for an Autosomal Transfer for free, which will give you access to Family Finder. I did find some different people on this site then on Ancestry, so if you’re really set on connecting with as many people as possible, I think it’s important to try multiple sites.
For an additional fee, you can have access to things like the Chromosome Browser, My Origins and Ancient Origins; I got access to all of those for $19.00.
You can learn about all their available tests here.
You need to have some what of an understanding of chromosomes for this to be of interest, and as I have very little, I haven’t played around with it much yet.
Basically, you can choose to filter through all of your matches (by things like “close relative” – of which I have none on the site, “confirmed relatives”, “close surname”, “x matches” etc.), or look go through all of them, and click on one to see what parts of your DNA you share. You’ll see it come up like this;
Hover over the coloured bit and you’ll see the detail, eg. Jane Doe matches you on chromosome 15 from position ___ to ___ for a total of ___cm. You can look at up to 5 matches at once.
I’m aware that where your DNA matches means something, but it’s not clear to the layman what that is. Again, I’ll look into this more and update.
You can choose to see this data in a table, and there it will tell you the relation to the person (I’m not using the name in this example, but it would say at the top of the following image, “Jane Doe – 3rd Cousin”, or whatever the match may be).
This is likely an easier way to do further research, and you can export and download to Excel, but I’ll still have to get back to you on what exactly this all means.
Like with Ancestry, FTDNA gives you a breakdown of your ethnic makeup, and allows you to see it displayed on a map. I had slightly different results here than on Ancestry (the Polynesian is gone, you’ll note), but basically the same deal.
You can see your family matches on the map as well.
If you’re interested in archeology and ancient origins, this part is fun. Using DNA from dig sites around the world, they give you a rough idea of what your ancestors likely did to survive; mine were mostly farmers, which fits with my known long history of family farming, and of some surname searches that also indicated we were mostly farmers. I haven’t spent the time to look through all the specific dig sites and details yet, but I will. One thing I wish it did was to show on the map not just the ones that you are connected to, but all of them, as I see some patterns but wonder if that’s just from the areas where more research was done, as opposed to saying anything about my ancient history.
Finally, you can use all this to find matches on the site, and to see your connections. You can view them through this;
to search via DNA connections, or upload a family tree and see them through that.
This site is cool because of the philosophy behind it; you have the ability to participate in studies that could help cure diseases, find new ancestral discoveries – it’s a non-profit and, I think, a very cool concept. Upload your Ancestry DNA report and you see this:
I did this about 24 hours ago and am still waiting on my Trait Prediction Report (will add when I get it), but have access to the following;
DNA Land has, I suspect, a smaller database, which is why it didn’t show me any relationship matches,
Disappointing. But the only way to improve that is for more people to join, so I’m still glad I did.
Find Relatives of Relatives
This, thankfully, did come with results.
A very general breakdown first, in the form of a pie chart. The details are viewed like this;
I did find it helpful seeing what exactly was included in each category, I though this was slightly better done here than on other sites. They have a map as well, though not as pretty as on the other ones, still gets the same info across;
There’s many more sites out there, and I’ll update as I go through others, but first I want to see all these have to offer.
Hope that helps narrow down the search! Got some recommendations? Leave them in the comments.
All for now,