DNA test results are anxiously awaited by many genealogy researchers. After all, when – not if – we hit that brick wall in the search for our ancestor, DNA testing can provide clues to our questions. That was just the case with my 5th great grandfather Cagebeth White.
For many years, Cagebeth was my genealogical brick wall. (Aspects of his life still are!) Having an unusual first name paired with a common surname, he was relatively easy to track in the records. Figuring out how he fit in among the other White families of North Carolina and Virginia was not so easy.
DNA testing of White family descendants on several lines broke down that genealogy brick wall. (Turns out we are Swinneys, but that’s another story.)
The DNA test results alone gave us CLUES TO FOLLOW, but no definitive answers.
The paper genealogy trail alone also gave us clues, but no definitive answers.
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BOTH the traditional paper genealogy trail and the DNA test results were needed to point us in the right direction to find Cagebeth’s family.
I cannot stress this enough. Traditional paper genealogy and DNA testing work together to solve genealogy mysteries.
I have to say at this point I am not a DNA expert, and I did not do this alone. My research partner and I worked long and hard to solve this piece of the puzzle.
[Of course, one brick wall came down and another one cropped up!]
You Got Your DNA Test Results – Now What?!
When I talk to readers at genealogy events and online, I hear both excitement and trepidation expressed about using DNA in your genealogy research.
I get that.
Using DNA test results to find cousins and ancestors has a steep learning curve, but many resources are available to help you learn what you need to successfully understand your DNA test results and how those results apply to your genealogy research. Below I share a plethora of places and ways to learn more about using DNA in your genealogy research.
If you have a favorite DNA resource, add it in the comments below.
Where To Test
If you have not tested your DNA yet, the main genealogy DNA testing companies include:
Before you order, you will need to decide what type of DNA test you want to use. In brief, The autosomal DNA test is the most common DNA test and determines your ethnicity and your ancestral origins. A Y-DNA test provides information on direct paternal ancestors. The mitochondrial DNA test provides information on your direct maternal ancestors. All of the above companies provide autosomal DNA testing. FamilyTreeDNA is the only company performing y-DNA and mtDNA testing.
Thrifty Tip – Check Groupon for discounts on DNA test kits!
Now Let’s Explore Resources To Learn How To Use Those DNA Test Results!
From webinars to books to YouTube, many options are available to you to learn how to use DNA in your genealogy research. Each of the testing companies above have tutorials on their websites to help you interpret your results. Other independent options are available as well.
To find Ancestry Academy: Go to your Ancestry.com homepage, click on “Extras” in the top toolbar. Select Ancestry Academy from the drop down. (Ancestry is a subscription site) Examples of webinars include:
- DNA 101: An Insider’s Scoop on AncestryDNA Testing
- DNA: Connecting Your Ancestors to the Records
- Expand and Support Your Genealogy Research with DNA Circles
As of this writing, Legacy Family Tree Webinars has 60+ webinars on DNA by top genetic genealogists. While this is a subscription site, watch for FREE viewings. As of this writing (Dec 2018) 21 DNA related webinars were being offered for free viewing. Legacy Family Tree Webinars has also recently introduced closed captioning.
This is a subscription site, but does offer free viewings as well. From the homepage, search for “free” DNA webinars in the search box.
I love a good book! (What genealogist doesn’t?) Enjoy these suggestions for your genetic genealogy bookshelf:
- The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine Bettinger
- Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine Bettinger
- Guide to DNA Testing: How to Identify Ancestors, Confirm Relationships, and Measure Ethnic Ancestry through DNA Testing by Richard Hill
Hope over to Youtube and find DNA tutorials from the DNA testing companies:
Mary Eberle of DNA Hunters appears monthly on the Are You My Cousin? Youtube channel to discuss using DNA in your genealogy research. Check out these popular videos: Confused About X-DNA? A DNA Expert Answers Your Questions and How To Build Family Trees For Your DNA Matches
- Family History Fanatics – Andy and Devon offer short videos on current DNA topics in simple, understandable language. Don’t miss these videos!
Conferences & Multi Day Intensives
Attending a conference dedicated to genetic genealogy is a fantastic way to dive right into learning about using DNA test results in your genealogy research. Keep up to date with upcoming conferences with Conference Keeper.org.
Don’t let the thought of using DNA in your genealogy research intimidate you. Free and fee-based learning options are available to you. Learn from your home or travel to a conference. Find the best option for you and dive in!
Other Posts of Interest
- 15 DNA + Genealogy Posts To Boost Your Research
- Two Common Genetic Genealogy Questions Answered!
- 31 Days of “Out of the Box” Genealogy Tips – DNA Education