Ancestry DNA Testing for family history: Telling the story of your biological ancestors

DNA testing is taking the genealogy world by storm. Thousands of people are now sending off their DNA to discover more about their ancestry and meeting cousins they never knew existed! Thinking about taking the leap into DNA testing, too? Brad Argent, from Ancestry, explains the fascinating possibilities that await you!

IHM: How does an AncestryDNA test help someone discover more about their family history?
Brad: AncestryDNA provides two things for people researching their family tree; an Ethnicity Estimate and Cousin Matching. The Ethnicity Estimate can shed light on a dark branch of your tree by providing clues as to where your genes came from, and the Cousin Matching does pretty much what it says on the tin – it matches your DNA against the one million-plus other samples in the AncestryDNA database and determines if you’re related, and more importantly, how you’re related.

IHM: Why should people get involved and have their DNA tested?
Brad: DNA is passed down by one’s ancestors, so it naturally contains a wealth of information about an individual’s family and origins. AncestryDNA’s genome-wide test presents the information to users in an easy-to-understand way. It’s a great way for people to dig even deeper into their family story if they have already done some research and also serves as a great starting point.

IHM: What will the results show?
Brad: The AncestryDNA test will tell customers their genetic ethnicity (Ethnicity Estimate) from a few hundred to thousands of years ago based on 26 ethnic regions across the globe. AncestryDNA can also connect people with living relatives (Cousin Matching) that have had their DNA analysed, which could lead to new information and personal connections in family history research.

IHM: What do the result essentially mean?
Brad: The key thing to remember is that AncestryDNA tells the story of your biological ancestors – it tells you where your ancestors have most likely come from and it connects you with your cousins from next door or on the other side of the globe. But it doesn’t tell their stories – that’s still the job of traditional family history.

IHM: Is it a reliable way of overcoming brick walls?
Brad: It’s part of the process. DNA doesn’t replace family history – it’s another tool in helping you track down those disappearing ancestors. The science is very accurate – getting the history and the science to match can be more of a challenge.

IHM: What have you discovered about your own family tree?
Brad: Here’s a link to two videos that explain Ethnicity Estimates and Cousin Matching using my tree – I found a branch of the family in the US that I had no idea existed!

And below is a screen shot of my results. I’ve left out the Cousin Matching as it contains details of other people’s results.

Screen shot
Screen shot of AncestryDNA results for Brad Argent
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Screen shot of Brad Argent’s ethnicity estimate in Ancestry DNA

IHM: What was the most fascinating aspect you’ve discovered about your own DNA?
Brad: I was surprised by the Irish bit – and it made me have a harder look at that side of the family and I discovered a direct connection to a one time Mayor of Cork! The cousin matching has also been very enlightening. I had some evidence to suggest that I was connected to a particular convict family, but the evidence wasn’t strong enough for me to make a claim. But once I found a fourth cousin who was also connected to that convict it help me triangulate my research.

This is the third in our four-part series on DNA testing. Click here for the other posts in this series:

– Part One: AncestryDNA tests – An Introduction

– Part Two: Demystifying how AncestryDNA tests work

– Part Four: Ancestry DNA Testing for family history: Breaking down brick walls

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