Should You Have Your DNA Tested for Genealogy Purposes?

I’ve been wanting to get a genealogical DNA report for a while now. One of my brothers did previously, and we found some surprises, but also some things we expected.

For example, we found Sardinian DNA where I didn’t expect it (though it could be tied to an Italian line, it was still surprising to see a significant amount of DNA from that region given how long ago the last known ancestor from there appeared in our tree).

We also found very little German DNA turned up for him (around 11-12% I believe, where we’re ancestrally a little more than half German based on what we know so far). Even with Eastern European lines combined with his German DNA, he had a very low percentage clearly coming from our father’s side of the family. This wasn’t surprising though because we’d always known he takes after the Irish side whereas my other brother and I seem to take after the German side much more.

Seeing his results made me even more eager to have the DNA done for myself — mostly to see how our results differ.

I’m not sure why I waited so long, but I’m thrilled to say I’ve just sent my test sample out, and I should have my results some time in April. I look forward to telling you about anything interesting I might find there.

In the meantime, is this something even worth doing? 

For me it was, even if just for the curiosity factor. My German line — my namesake’s no less — is the branch of my family tree I know the least about (beyond my great-grandparents). Given that I take after that side of the family more, I’m hoping it gives me some kind of direction to follow. Because of that, I chose Ancestry DNA, hoping it might connect me with others researching the same lines.

My brother opted for 23&Me I believe. He wanted the medical information in addition to the regional DNA breakdown.

So if you decide to do a similar DNA test, what’s more important? That social connection Ancestry offers, or having the medical information as well?

That’s obviously something you have to decide for yourself. But did you know you can get medical info from your Ancestry results as well, even though they don’t offer it directly? That’s what I’ve opted to do. How? You upload your data provided by Ancestry to a service called Promethease. It’s fairly inexpensive (they say $10 for most reports), and it comes to less than 23&Me’s medical report at that.

Again, I’ll let you know how my results turn out when I get them, and whether or not I find it worthwhile after the fact. But for now, I just wanted to bring that to your attention if you’re considering this and torn between these two popular services. You might be able to get the best of both worlds.

Have you had your DNA tested? Did you learn anything unexpected or exciting? Did it connect you with distant family members researching your tree? I’d love to hear whether or not you think it was worth pursuing.

Jenn is a professional writer and publisher, and the founder of Climb Your Family Tree.

She first became interested in genealogy as a teenager. Since that early start, she's spent 28 years putting her personal passion and professional research skills to use in exploring her own family history while assisting others in their genealogical journeys.

In addition to running Climb Your Family Tree, Jenn is a long-time PR, social media, and online marketing specialist and she's been a digital publisher / web developer for over 20 years. She owns a variety of web properties including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, Kiss My Biz, and NakedPR.

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