DISCOVERING YOUR FAMILY HISTORY:
3 Tips to get started
For centuries, anyone who wanted to know more about their ancestry had to rely on family bibles, public records, and oral stories passed down through generations. All that changed about 17 years ago when DNA testing became a tool for genealogical research. Now, a simple cheek swab opens the door to centuries of information— impervious to human error, incomplete paper records, or misinformation. Thinking about getting started with your family history? Here are 3 tips that can really help.
1. Think your family history is accurate?
Think again. Even if your family kept records, the farther back you go in your family history, the more imprecise the genealogical information becomes. For example, centuries ago it was common for people to invent noble lines of descent to make their family seem more prestigious or to protect themselves from political unrest. DNA testing for ancestry is the only way to ensure you’re getting accurate information about where you really came from.
2. Location, location, location. Prior to the 17th century, the reliability of information in general becomes unreliable. Families may assume they have roots in Ireland, for example, when they actually came from Denmark. When you can specifically pinpoint precise locations where your DNA originated and then migrated to, going back 1,000 years or more, whole new worlds for research open up. So if you’re stuck on finding family from way back, use DNA testing to help you find locations— from there you can start working on people.
3. Not all DNA tests are the same. When you invest in a DNA test for ancestry, do a little comparison shopping. Cheaper doesn’t always mean you’re getting the best value. Consider these features: the number of DNA markers analyzed (the more, the better); the number of gene pools and genetic reference populations utilized for the analysis (again— the more, the better-- greater numbers yield more accurate results); the specificity of the test (does the test provide pinpoint locations or only broader geographic locales).