Public trees are searchable, so theoretically, you could find the name of a candidate for your great-grandfather, take a DNA test and see if youre a match to his descendant.
DNA Ancestry seems user-friendly, with streamlined test ordering, and genetic genealogy information (including sample test result reports) linked on the right side of the home page. You also can listen to Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, Ancestry.coms chief family historian and co-author (with Ann Turner) of Trace Your Roots With DNA (Rodale, $14.95), talk about genetic genealogy on NPR.
People who get tested with DNA Ancestry are automatically notified of matches in its DNA database. Youll be able to enter results from other labs in the database, which isnt yet available but will be free.
Of course, youll want to take the sites marketing with a grain of salt. An ad on Ancestry.com says Looking for your ancestors? Just say aah. Kind of gives the impression you take a test and boom, you know your missing ancestors name and place of birth.
Yes, you might take a test and immediately learn you unquestionably match a cousin who knows your family history back to the Dark Ages. But were not to the point where thats possible for all. Youll probably need to plug your test results into several databases before finding a match, and those matches may be iffy enough that you have to do more genealogical research before you can say for sure whether and how youre related.