My Genetic Genealogy Test Results: What to Do Now?

By Diane Haddad

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.