I was asked about DNA for genealogy testing by someone who had already tested with two companies and were disappointed in what they did not learn.
This is totally understandable two very expensive DNA tests and no answers – not really. I cannot recommend trying to use ‘only’ the admixture result of any testing company or data reader as a way to identify either parent. Since I have compared several siblings and parents and children, the admixture is variable to the extent that it can only reflect a very general view of anyone and it is not practical to say which parent what admixture came from.
Since the y-DNA which is a certain way to identify males of the same line is only passed from fathers to sons then the only test us ladies have to see dad, is the autosomal DNA au-DNA test. If this lady had a biological paternal relative then we would still use autosomal DNA of our lady and also test the other relative who could represent the paternal family and make sure the lady and the relative are related as they should be. Sometimes there are even adoptions that families don’t always know about and we always should make sure that the person we test is actually related to us.
Using DNA to look for an unknown person, keep in mind, a relative of that person will have had to test for you to see any match, so you need to know who – (who are the participants) is in what database where you will test, the size of the database, and what tools does the testing company offer for matching with other participants or not.
AncestryDNA has the largest database and has matching.
23andMe gives presumed haplogroup(s) (if applicable) and medical if you get the complete testing
Family Tree DNA, ftDNA, has all the tests and surname projects which might be of help in locating your father’s side.
ftDNA has, not only the au-DNA test and a sizable database, it is also offers some of the best matching tools and matching in the business. Family Tree DNA also has not only the mt-DNA test (maternal line) but also the y-DNA the paternal line. So once a girl has tested their au-DNA – called the Family Finder test with Family Tree DNA she could hope to match a paternal relative and since ftDNA has the male y-dna surname projects there is a high number of men who have tested both the au-DNA and y-DNA.
I will step back and based on our lady’s questions I would make several suggestions.
Order several records from the General Register Office in the United Kingdom. Even if you believe you know what a record says, all the primary records should verified. records.
Order your own birth certificate. Ask if you can get a copy of the original application not just a certified copy. Make sure this is not a 2nd birth certificate reissued with the name of the step father. Make double sure there is not a previous certificate – or application.
From this record request you will have exact dates and hopefully names of family and their addresses, maybe occupation – read every line over and over. Request a library or genealogist search for locating all people named in your certificate in the City Directories of the time, and request the address listing be searched also in the city directories to see the names of all people living in the same location.
Request any public or private birth notices in the local newspapers from libraries or genealogists.
Order your mother’s and step father’s marriage record. See what name she had at the time of her marriage if different from her maiden name. See if she was previously married and if so get that record also.
Order any records of change of name for yourself.
Order the original Passport application for your own travel, or the documents you traveled under, your mother’s or stepfather’s record, and any mentions of records about yourself, compare information.
Map out all the locations for your self and your mother starting a couple of years before your own birth, and all the places she and her family members might have lived and worked. It is not as hard as it might sound.
Genuki is a wonderful site.
They will have links to all sorts of everything and maps and you can personalize your own with your family locations. They will also have links to countless records and information about places and how to find people.
If there are truly no clues as to the father’s name then have all records of your mother and her locations organized as well as you can – the city directory for home, and the work place, and for extend maternal family, names and places, well researched – the city directory is your best friend and read the names of your family’s neighbors and co-workers to any extent they can be found.
In researching the places and people you mother knew and lived around, remember to think in terms of when you were conceived and not when you were born.
In au-DNA you are roughly 50/50 of your parents and this decreases with every generation. But in your own results you may not be able to easily see which of the matches are your mother’s side and which are your father’s side.
Consider also testing a maternal relative or two if you cannot test your mother.
Testing both yourself and any other close relative – then you can note the matches, both of you share in common. If the person who tests is your mother, or a maternal relative, then the people that relative and you do not share – is possibly/likely a paternal relative, if you have both your maternal grandparents represented through, either your mother or two maternal 2nd cousins, one from e.
With this sorting of matches the accuracy fades with the farther distant cousins but this eliminates up to, about half your near matches – helping to identify your paternal side.
You want to have your maternal ancestry very well researched. In your DNA matches you will see many people on some of the matching sites list their surnames. Particularly if your maternal side has some unusual surnames you might be able to use this also as a guide to identify matches that are maternal for elimination. In the absence of a person to test from your mother’s sides – knowing the surnames and identifying maternal families that way is vital.
Depending on what DNA testing finds and what the research finds, there are several different next steps. I will try to cover some research plans – depending on… if…
Another DNA testing result to read for sorting matches, this is the x-Gene. Blog coming soon.