I’ve been pretty stoked about DNA ever since my mom and dad joined me in getting our DNA tested. Here are some resources I recommend for everyone.
Although this book has been out for awhile, I just read it recently. I devoured this information and am ready to read it again. It was A National Geographic Best Book of 2017 and was a National Book Critics Circle Award 2017 Nonfiction Finalist. For all the people like me who read everything they can on DNA, reading this book will help balance the hype and deepen your appreciation for the science. I follow Dr. Rutherford on Twitter and listen to his podcasts whenever I can make the time.
This was a required text in the Genealogy Studies Program through Boston University. It’s easy to understand and a resource I return to again and again. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Debbie Parker Wayne, but I have attended several presentations by Blaine Bettinger and, OK, I admit it, I’m a little star-struck by him. Attend one of his workshops on DNA and you’ll see what I mean. Once, my friend, Nancy, said, “Isn’t that Blaine Bettinger sitting by us?” I turned slowly and there he was! I could hardly finish my lunch! I know - I’m a dork! Same thing happened once when my friend, Monica, pointed out that George Siemens was attending a workshop we were in. I nearly ran right into him when we exited the room, and I was dumb-struck! I wanted to say, “Hi, I’m SUCH a fan,” but, no, just felt my face flame red and scurried down the hall as fast as I could! Saw him the next day in the airport - same thing happened!
And speaking of Blaine Bettinger, this is his blog. I can’t imagine anything about DNA that you won’t find on this site - tools, articles, tips. You name it, he has it (I’m telling you, he is terrific!)
People ask me all the time, “What’s the best place to get my DNA done?” My recommendation is to first determine the reason you are interested in DNA testing. Are you interested in learning about family heritage, looking for relatives, trying to find a biological parent or child, or maybe worried about family health histories? Once you are clear about your own reasons for DNA testing, you are better able to research the top companies so that you understand what they offer, their focus (heritage, health, etc.), and their privacy/security policies.
The following sites offer DNA testing. Please note that in listing them as possible testing sites for you to research, I am not making recommendations or claims about their services.
This is where I had my first DNA testing done. Ancestry is the largest for-profit genealogy company in the world and claims to have a database containing 15 million completed DNA kits bought by customers! Their website makes it easy to view and connect with DNA matches through an internal messaging system. I’ve connected with numerous relatives through this service and find the family trees and DNA matching tools incredibly easy to use.
As a DNA matching service that also provides health screenings, I’ve heard claims that this is the most all-encompassing test out there. Many of my friends and relatives have had their DNA tested through this site and are very satisfied. I have not tested with them, yet, so I have no personal knowledge about this service.
Funny story - I had a woman contact me to tell me that it looked as if we were a very close match on My Heritage. I was the first close match she’d had on the site, and she was pretty excited because she was searching for her biological family. My initial reaction was that it must be a mistake because I had not tested through this site. My husband reminded me that I had tested through them. The company had accidentally sent me a kit and when I called to let them know of the mistake, they graciously told me to go ahead and send in the test - on them. But then I forgot about it and had not checked the site for DNA matches. I check it pretty regularly, now, because, come to find out, the woman who contacted me is the biological daughter of my first cousin. Both of them have been looking for each other for years! What a happy day! My Heritage has some very good tools and has become a site I check regularly.
I first heard of this project when I was teaching a Race and Ethnicity course at Yavapai College. In helping my students research the concept of race as genetic or as a social construct, I had them follow this project. I also had my DNA tested through them and found the whole thing fascinating! This is not a matching service, but rather a mapping and analysis of historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world to better understand our shared genetic roots.
National Geographic has announced that the project is ending and, as a result, kits are no longer available for purchase. Participants can download their results and submit their DNA to FamilyTree DNA (that’s what I did). National Geographic will maintain the site until June 30, 2020. It was pretty exciting to be part of this research! Check out my Geno 2 results infographic!