14 January 2013

Finding Cousins -- DNA testing now more sophisticated and affordable than ever

Image from original article

When the Wall Street Journal does an article about DNA testing in the context of genealogy and family history research, Finding a Few Hundred Cousins, by Anne Tergesen, it feels like our hobby/profession has really hit a milestone!

In recent decades, DNA tests were mainly used to prove paternity. But since 2000, a handful of companies have commercialized tests that connect a wider array of relatives, sometimes going back centuries to find common ancestors.

As recently as 2007, such tests cost as much as $1,000. Today, they generally run between $100 and $300 and offer users more information ....

I will fess up that I have NOT done DNA testing.  The main reason is that I’m too busy doing research for others.  Another reason is that many years ago, I chose to focus more on the details of each “found” ancestor’s life than on identifying who I didn’t know anything about and pursuing those individuals.  As always with researching ancestors, we each determine what goals work best for us.

Given the decrease in price and the expanded results one can expect, have you or someone in your family recently undergone DNA testing?  Did you get the answer you hoped for?  Or, did you end up with more questions than ever?  

For those new to DNA testing, what one bit of advice would you give them?

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  1. An Upfront with NGS reader shared ...

    I asked my brother for a DNA specimen a number of years ago to try to break down the brick wall of my Taylor ancestry. The result was to find two other women who had done the same thing, each of us with, as yet, brick walls in the same geographic area and same chronological time (mid 18th century), but all pointing to a Taylor genealogy that goes back to a 17th century ancestor. However, no connections to this genealogy as yet for any of us. It is not clear to me that autosomal DNA will help any of us.

  2. Another reader shared ...

    My answer is to keep one's expectations in check. I've had several people contact me, sure that there must be some obvious connection between us.

    Sadly, this has never been the case, and I know quite a lot about my "roots."

    I think the reason for this is that the science is still young and the estimated distance to the common ancestor is optimistic, when in fact what's really being described is a probable "window" of generations.

    Still, having one's genetic markers on file can't hurt, and as more people do this the odds grow that a match within recorded history can be made.