Genealogy at a Glance: Genetic Genealogy Basics
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Contrary to popular belief, DNA testing is not the final word in determining your ancestry, but it is extremely helpful. It is most effective when it's used to confirm that documentation concerning your family relationships is accurate. It is also used to test hypotheses about ancestors for whom little or no documentary evidence exists. Equally important, DNA testing can be used as "cousin bait" to identify previously unknown cousins who may be able to add information to your genealogical research and/or confirm your ancestral connections.
In this handy four-page guide, author Angie Bush gives you the simple facts about (a) DNA testing, (b) DNA testing companies, and (c) DNA testing results. She provides a simple overview of the three types of DNA tests: Y-DNA, mtDNA, and atDNA, or autosomal DNA, the most popular type of testing for genealogists. She goes on to explain which test is right for you and then launches into a description of the testing companies and what you can expect from them. The companies featured in this At a Glance guide were chosen because they are the only companies that provide a list of "genetic cousin" matches based on DNA analysis.
Most crucially, DNA test results give information about where your most ancient ancestor originated and his ethnicity. But equally important for resolving questions of a genealogical nature is the list of genetic cousins that the companies provide as matches. Proper evaluation of match lists within the context of how that particular type of DNA was inherited is key to using DNA as a genealogical record. In the end, the author cautions, DNA testing does not provide proof of relationship without genealogical research to support the findings, but knowing your ethnicity, place of origin, and previously unknown cousins is a very good place to start.