DNA is a powerful tool to use in our genealogy research. It can also feel incredibly overwhelming. I sat down with Blaine Bettinger, the Genetic Genealogist, for his tips on how to get started, what to keep in mind, and how to work through all of those matches that we have.
(Click the "play" arrow to watch this short video with Blaine.)
Key Takeaways for Using DNA in Your Genealogy
- Focus on the continents in your ethnicity estimate, not the countries.
- Ancestry's new Genetic Communities are Blaine's "favorite new things" in genetic genealogy.
- Be systematic with contacting your matches. Blaine suggests looking at the relationships first, rather than looking for surnames or locations. (I have some insight as to why your DNA matches aren't responding and what you can do to help.)
- Blaine tells us what a centimorgan is -- at least as far as genealogists need to think about it.
- AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, and 23andMe each have their pros and cons; Blaine explains what they are and what they mean for our research.
- Download your data from Ancestry or wherever you tested and use third-party tools like GEDMatch to get more results.
- Blaine's one piece of advice for anyone getting started: The more tree information you have when you get started, the better off you'll be. (He also gives his opinion as to whether or not DNA testing will replace "traditional" research.)
- Blaine Bettinger's blog, "The Genetic Genealogist"
- Blaine's Facebook group, "Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques" (a fantastic group!)
- Available on Amazon: The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy
(Note: the link to Blaine's book on Amazon is an affiliate link.)
What about you? Are you overwhelmed when you think about using DNA? What discoveries have you made with DNA in your genealogy research?