Genetic Genealogy Research

Your DNA test results (atDNA, mtDNA, Y-DNA and X-DNA) can be the best available source to further your genealogical research, especially when documentary records are scarce. Getting beyond ethnicity estimates to identifying ancestors, however, requires specialized skills.

Successfully utilizing your DNA matches begins by defining your research goals. This will determine what type of DNA test is most relevant to meet your goal, and whether targeted testing is appropriate. Once test results are available, DNA matches must be sorted and evaluated. Based on the research goals, DNA matches across testing sites may be utilized to identify or confirm ancestors and breaking down brick walls.

Each project begins with the identification of a research goal, and a preparation of a research plan that includes proposed or completed DNA testing. Traditional family research is typically required to provide documentation to utilize DNA test results. The appropriate type of DNA analysis is identified and a budget defined. Once approved, a retainer is required.

A final written report will document traditional family research completed, including identification of records consulted, and copies or extracts of documents found. The report will also identify the specific DNA matches utilized, a description of their analysis and how they support the conclusion. As appropriate, a pedigree will be included.


Which DNA test should I take?
There are several types of DNA testing available for genealogical research: Y-DNA (Y chromosome) can trace your paternal line, X-DNA (X chromosome) follows a unique inheritance pattern, mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) follows your matrilineal line, and atDNA (autosomal DNA) will help you identify both ancestors and living relatives.

The appropriate test, or combination of tests, is it determined by the research question you are asking. I can help you select the appropriate test and testing company, which can save you money and time in reaching your research goals.

What are ethnicity estimates and why do they differ from my genealogical tree?
DNA is inherited randomly from our ancestors, thus we typically do not have all of our genealogical ancestors represented in our DNA. When developing estimates of ethnicity, our randomly inherited DNA is compared to “sample groups” of DNA to generate “estimates” of our heritage. They are just that, estimates. Since they are reliant on both the “sample groups” and the algorithm each testing company uses to determine ethnicity, they also typically vary between testing companies.
Can you tell me about inherited diseases?
Genealogical DNA testing only involves a portion of your entire genome. While some portion of these genes can suggest genetic risks, the information is incomplete, as many genetically linked diseases involve several genes. Accurate medical forecasting requires a more comprehensive and sensitive test than those available from providers of genealogical DNA tests, and interested people should consult a genetic counselor trained in this area.
Will you need to test my family members?
Depending on your research goals, it may be desirable to test other family members, such as a male for Y-DNA. This decision will be discussed and confirmed with you.
Can you help me sort my DNA matches?
Many times the lists of DNA matches from the various testing sites can be overwhelming and you may require assistance to organize them to achieve your research goals. After a consultation focused on your research goals, your DNA matches can be sorted and organized to help achieve your objectives.