My Genetic Genealogy Test Results: What to Do Now?

My Genetic Genealogy Test Results: What to Do Now?

You've submitted your saliva sample and received your results, but now what do you do? Diane explores her results and where they might lead her.

I finally took a DNA test, not only to learn more about my family history but also to build my background knowledge for Family Tree Magazine‘s genetic genealogy coverage.

These are my ethnicity results for my Ancestry DNA test (which was provided in a press kit for TLC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?“):

Thanks to Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard’s article in the forthcoming July/August 2015 Family Tree Magazine, I’m not totally taken aback by these results. For example, people with German ancestry (that’s me) often get results with Scandinavian heritage, even when they don’t have ancestors from Scandinavia (also me).

My paternal great-grandparents were Lebanese, which probably explains the 28 percent Italy/Greece (I don’t have ancestors from Italy or Greece) and the West Asian trace regions. DNA from my Irish third-great-grandparents and English fourth-great-grandparents is reflected in my Irish and British percentages.

These percentages are interesting, but not extremely helpful when it comes to genealogy research. Genetic matches are the most useful part of genetic genealogy results—if you know how to use them. I’m finding out I could use some help there.

I’m not in any DNA Circles, nor do I have any Ancestor Discoveries. A couple of matches I already knew are cousins. A couple others have trees with surnames that also are in my tree, so I can guess how we’re related. But the vast majority of my matches, mostly categorized as distant cousins, either don’t have an online tree, have a private tree (I’m not upset about this—I understand that plenty of folks do genealogy for themselves, not because they want to share their trees with the world), or have a public tree but no names in common with mine.

I’ll randomly click through trees of matches in that last group, looking for places that also appear in my tree. I might note that a person has ancestors from Germany or Ohio or Indiana. I’ve emailed two or three matches (I haven’t heard back). So my DNA experience has been anticlimactic so far.

There has to be a better, more-organized way.

Has your testing experience been similar to mine? Are you unsure what to do now that you have your genetic genealogy results? Or are you still thinking about DNA testing, but you want to get the most out of your results?

Our next Family Tree University weeklong workshop is for you (and me): Genetic Genealogy Bootcamp runs April 20-27, and includes six video classes (which are yours to watch whenever you want, even after the workshop is over), exclusive workshop message board discussions, and advice from genetic genealogy expert and the Genetic Genealogist blogger Blaine Bettinger.

Take a look at the Genetic Genealogy Bootcamp program at Family Tree University.

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  1. That is a very fun looking ethnicity estimate map! My results were a little anticlimactic, too, simply because the vast majority of my &quot;cousins&quot; results come from 1 particular branch. Although I had to laugh about being 20% Irish… all my Irish ancestors are fairly distant, but there are a lot of them and it all adds up. 🙂 I think these DNA results are mostly about curiosity and confirming (or in some cases disproving) what you already know about your own family tree. I wish I had the time/$ to do the bootcamp, that looks really interesting!

  2. Charles William Meiser

    Remember &quot;An ethnic group or ethnicity is a socially defined category of people who identify with each other based on common ancestral, social, cultural or national experience.&quot; From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia with apologies. Ethnic Germans may or may not have been emigrated from Germany. Also immigrants born in Germany may or may not be ethnic Germans.

    What to do next? I recommend uploading your raw data to GEDmatch (free) and Family Tree DNA ($0-$39).

    I discover new cousins or potentially cousins almost daily. My DNA is in 23andMe, AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, and GEDmatch databases.

    Happy hunting Diane.

  3. Charlene Filipiak

    If you use Chrome as your browser, I suggest the Chrome extension called &quot;AncestryDNA Helper&quot;. One feature is the ability to scan your entire match list and look at your matches ancestors and compare them against all your matches ancestors. I guess it could be similiar to Ancestor Discoveries. What I have found are people who are probably the same people, but spelled a little different in different trees or birth and death dates are close but don’t match exactly. I am now looking at the these matches in a different light.

  4. My Ancestry DNA report only showed areas of ethnicity.
    It is my understanding that when a female does DNA you only get the ethnicity report. Only males receive lists of possible people matches.

  5. Susan Fevola, I’m not sure how you got that idea. The autosomal DNA tests, such as the one you did with Ancestry, test the same type of DNA for females and males. You should have received matches, so you may want to contact Ancestry and see if there is some problem with them reporting all of your results.

    The only reason why you may not have received any matches could be that no one who is related to you in any way, at any level of distant relationship, has taken the Ancestry test. That is hard to believe, so again, I would advise contacting Ancestry about it.

    Perhaps you are thinking of the Y DNA tests, which only men can do, and therefore only men will get Y DNA matches. Ancestry no longer offers Y DNA testing. Everyone can test for autosomal DNA, and get matches as well as ethnicity estimates.