Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Making the Most of DNA Testing

Lately, I've been focused on really delving into my DNA results. Perhaps it started with Randy Seaver's "Saturday Night Genealogy Fun" post on Genea-Musings about autosomal DNA matches.

When I composed my post that day, I realized I wasn't maximizing my opportunities to use Family Tree DNA to my advantage. First task? Fill out my family tree.

I know when I look at potential matches, the first thing I check for (besides their name and the proximity of the match) is whether or not they have a family tree. If they do, I click it and see if there are any names I recognize. This is such a great tool we can use as a jumping-off point to learn more about how we might connect with our matches, so I filled mine out to make it easier for others to do the same.

Since my DNA tests are both the mtDNA and autosomal, it's the autosomal matches that will probably give me the most bang for my buck.

I also confirmed people I know who are absolutely my relatives, which is a grand total of one. One of my maternal uncles had his DNA tested with Family Tree DNA and, of course, our mtDNA results are the exact same since his mother is my mother's mother.

Initially with my Family Finder (autosomal) DNA test, I was going through and pinpointing those matches who mentioned the name "Murphy" or "Nova Scotia," and contacting them since Emma Anna Murphy remains my biggest mystery ancestor.

However, I've decided this is the wrong way to go about contacting matches. I should be contacting ALL of them, one at a time, to initiate a conversation and see if we can find a common ancestor, so I can confirm the relationship. My strategy there is to start with the "closest" Family Finder matches and work my way down. Of course, not everyone responds to an email from a stranger regarding genealogy.

I will use the ability to make notes next to a match to keep track of people I've contacted and see if I hear from anyone. It should be interesting!

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

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