Why Take a DNA Test: 3 Reasons

 

Are you a genealogist who has not yet taken a DNA test? Here are three reasons to dive right in.

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If you’re interested in your family history but haven’t taken a DNA test yet, it’s time. Not just because “everyone’s doing it,” (well, actually there’s merit to that argument, too, since the more people test, the more data you’ll have), but because it can help your family history in ways you may not yet realize. Even if you think you already know everything about your tree!

Here are three basic reasons every genealogist should take a DNA test:

1. Your DNA is a primary record.

In genealogy, primary information is given by a source who has firsthand knowledge of an event, with the best primary information being created at or around the time of the event. DNA falls into that category on both counts! Therefore, it is an excellent source of genealogical information and should be obtained as part of a thorough genealogical search.

2. Your DNA is a unique and accurate record.

DNA possesses several qualities that make this genealogical “record type” stand out from the rest. It’s unique to you and your family. It cannot be falsified. No name change, deception, miscommunication or misspelling can mar this record. Even if it is not a complete record of your family history, the story that it does tell is accurate.

3. Your DNA is a physical link to your past.

So much of genealogy research, especially in today’s digital world, is intangible. We all add ancestors to pedigree charts with a click of the mouse, having no idea of their physical characteristics, never once setting foot in the same places that they did, or if they preferred bread and butter or toast and jam. But with the advent of DNA testing, you can now see physical connections between yourself and your ancestors.

The first time I saw such evidence, it seemed unremarkable. It was just a blue line on top of a grey line, representing the location in the DNA where I had the same information as my cousin. But that line meant that we had both inherited a physical piece of DNA from our common ancestor, Lucy J. Claunch.

That realization didn’t add names or dates to my pedigree chart; Lucy was already in my tree. But it did add a sense of purpose and reality to my research. In short, it inspired me to know more about Lucy and to tell her story because I felt inextricably tied to it.

Perhaps many of you don’t need a DNA test to feel similarly motivated. Maybe you already understand what I learned: Her story is my story. But because I have her DNA in me, I am able to take that idea one step further. Because she lives on in me, my story is her story. (So I’d better make it a good one!)

Has your DNA motivated you to find out more about your story? Start your DNA journey with my inexpensive “get-started” quick reference guide, “Autosomal DNA for Genealogists.” (Autosomal is the “introductory” DNA test everyone should take, the kind that’s sold by AncestryDNA and other companies.)

Originally published at www.genealogygems.com.