Discovering your Ancestry: 3 Tips for Getting Started


Discovering your Ancestry: 3 Tips for Getting Started

For centuries, someone who wanted to know more about their ancestry had to rely mainly on family bibles, public records, and oral stories passed down through generations. About 17 years ago, all that changed when DNA testing was added to the genealogical arsenal. Now, a simple cheek swab can open the door to centuries of information—impervious to human error, incomplete paper records, and misinformation. Thinking about getting started with your family history by taking a DNA test? Here are 3 tips that can really help.

1. Think Info About your Ancestry is Accurate? Think Again.

Even if your family kept records, the farther back you go in your family history, the more imprecise the genealogical information becomes, and the more you should doubt its accuracy. For example, centuries ago it was common for people to invent noble lines of descent to make their current family members and ancestors seem more prestigious or to protect themselves from political unrest. DNA testing for ancestry is the only way to ensure you’re getting accurate information about where you really came from, with no bias or prejudices.

2. Location, Location, Location

Prior to the 17th century, the reliability of information in general becomes extremely sketchy. Families may assume they have roots in Scotland, for example, when they actually came from Denmark. Denmark is geographically very close to Scotland, but they are culturally miles apart. When you can specifically pinpoint precise locations where your DNA originated and then migrated to—going back 1,000 years or more—whole new avenues for research open up. So if you’re stuck on finding family from way back, use DNA testing to help you find locations—from there you can start working on people.

3. Not All DNA Tests are the Same

When you invest in a DNA test for ancestry, do a little comparison shopping. Cheaper doesn’t always mean you’re getting the best deal or the right product for what you want to learn. Consider the following: the number of DNA markers analyzed (the more, the better); the number of gene pools and reference populations involved in analysis (again—the more, the better, since greater numbers yield more accurate results); the specificity of the test (whether or not it provides pinpoint locations or only broader geographic locales).


Learn More About GPS Origins

Discovering valuable information about your family history is priceless, and when you're doing a DNA test for ancestry, the process is extremely easy! All you have to do is collect your DNA in the comfort of home by using a simple cheek swab, mail the sample to the lab, and then wait for your results. What you find out just may surprise you or confirm what's been passed down for generations—either way, it's fascinating!

Do you have more suggestions for someone just getting started with their ancestry? Tell us! Leave a comment and we’ll answer.


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