I must admit I wasn’t originally convinced that DNA testing could enrich my family history research. As such I didn’t take a DNA test until late 2017. By then there were established testing companies and the price was quite reasonable.
It must have been reading Peter Calver’s newsletter at LostCousins (https://www.lostcousins.com/) that managed to persuade me. I have been a member at LostCousins off and on over the past few years (unfortunately I have had little success with cousin matching on the site) and religiously read the latest newsletter whenever it appears. Peter has always urged readers to test at Ancestry as not only do they have the biggest database of testers, it is possible to export your test results and load them up to other sites such as FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage (but it is not possible to load other tests into Ancestry). Here is a link to Peter’s “masterclass” on how to make the most of your DNA results: https://www.lostcousins.com/newsletters2/aug19news.htm#DNAmasterclass
After successfully testing myself, I got my mother tested (this was fortunate as she has since passed away) and then my brother. At the same time my aunt (mother’s sister) was keen and she also got tested (along with her husband and her two children). At this time it was still free to load Ancestry results to FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage so I loaded the results for myself, my Mum, brother and aunt to FTDNA and just myself, Mum and brother to MyHeritage. My father’s results were not available as he had passed away many years ago, but I did convince a first cousin on my Dad’s side to test and also my sister.
So now that I have been using DNA for two years what have I learnt:
- Ancestry is my platform of choice, simply because there are so many people in the database and that means there are more matches with useful trees attached. Plus I have used the new tools to classify matches and add notes.
- I check FTDNA and MyHeritage every so often for new matches and actually made a big discovery through two matches on MyHeritage.
- I have dabbled with GEDMatch and tools such as DNA Painter and Genome Mate Pro but would find these tools more helpful if Ancestry provided a chromosome browser.
- DNA alone will not build your family tree. Traditional research methods using a proven paper trail should always be the basis for your family history research.
How has DNA helped with my family tree:
- DNA helped me prove the father of my illegitimate gggrandfather. I had ‘guessed’ who he was from surviving records but it was good to have my guess confirmed.
- One of my paternal ggrandfather’s was not who I thought he was. This was not a shocking surprise as the man in question had married the mother at the last minute and had disappeared after the child was born (now I know why).
- I have been in touch with many new cousins and have been able extend my family tree (in all directions not just back in time).