Understanding DNA

by Fred E. Mayer

I have been asked to help all of you in understanding DNA testing. So here goes, first of all I am not an expert on this subject and will be learning along with you. I am not going to try and re-invent the wheel but will direct you to sites and webinars that will answer many of your questions.

I’m not sure how many of you are just starting your family research? If you are just beginning your research, you will need to identify a software program to organize your genealogical information. There are several genealogical software programs, I use Legacy Family Tree, and Roots Magic.

Both of these programs have a free version that you can download. Whatever software you choose, it is very important that you learn how to enter your data correctly, failure to do this can create a real problem in the future when you have hundreds of entries that need to be corrected. Key areas of concern are dates, geographic locations, not using maiden names of all females and most importantly—attachments of documents. Remember to always start with yourself and work your way back. Site your sources, this takes additional time and we all have a tendency to say I will site the source later, not a good idea.

Enough of the basics, on to DNA:

Again not trying to re-invent the wheel, I will be referring to a 5 part webinar series by Blaine T. Bettinger, Ph.D which can be found at LegacyTree.com. There is a fee associated with these webinars, 1 month $9.95 or 1 year access for $49.95. There are 410 webinars on many topics, 17 are on DNA topics.

There are three major companies:


Why Should You Test Your DNA?

One of the main reasons that I have found is to break down those brick walls and identify others who are working the same lines.

What Company Should You Test With?

Test as many as you feel you can afford. But I would stay with the main three companies at this time. It isn't inexpensive, anywhere from$99 to $1,000 or higher! Wow. Don't be alaramed, it’s doubtful you will spend more then $100. to $300.

I would recommend starting with Ancestry DNA first, due to the size of the database. Since Ancestry and 23andMe do not offer a Y-DNA test, and Family Tree DNA does, you may want to test with this company next. On Y-DNA I would test at least 37 markers or higher.