Use Caution When Researching Your Ancestry – DNA Testing Results Can Be Surprising
When trying to determine your ancestry, DNA testing can help you at least to determine a starting point. For example you may have been adopted as a young child and have no recollection of your natural parents or relatives. Therefore, you also can’t be sure of your ethnic or racial origin. Appearances aren’t everything and one young woman was surprised to find out that after 24 years of believing her ancestors were African she was actually more than 25% Indigenous American. When you’re unsure of your ancestry, DNA testing can give you enough of a glimpse into the past to put you on the right path of discovery.
While researching your ancestry, DNA testing can’t provide you with your entire family history but it can tell you if two people are related or descended from the same ancestor and if you are related to others who share the same surname. It can also help you prove or disprove your research and provide clues about your ethnic origin.
The knowledge that you can gain from DNA research into your family history typically falls into one of three historical categories and each offers different insights into your genetic makeup and historical origins. The first is the modern era which falls from the present time back to around 1500 AD. During this time span documented records where kept as fathers passed surnames down to their children. This will be the easiest time frame for you to research simply because people were beginning to keep accurate records.
You can conduct your research for your family tree online and at libraries, town halls, churches, archives, etc. But your best source of information may just be in your own home. Check attics and basements and old desks that may have documents tucked into the drawers. Ask your relatives to do the same. Look for things like marriage, birth and death certificates, service records, insurance papers, even stacks of old personal and love letters can contain valuable information about your lineage.
Once you’ve determined that you may share a common ancestry, DNA testing can be used to either prove or disprove your research findings. But be warned. Many people have had DNA testing performed and been surprised at the results they’ve received. Most DNA testing providers will warn you beforehand that the information you receive may be life altering.
The second time frame that your research will take you to is the time back from the fifteen century, the time of the classical writers and the Roman occupation of Britain. Your DNA test results may reveal that you’re of Scandinavian descent or that your tribe followed Ghengis Khan across Europe. It will be much more difficult to find information from this era simply because there was no organized record keeping but wouldn’t it be fun to know that your ancestors once roamed the Mongolian Steppes.
And of course the third time frame you’ll come to in your research lies even earlier still, well beyond the scope of either your research into your ancestry, DNA results and even family stories. But with the results you’ll be better able to imagine your ancestors sailing down the Nile with Cleopatra.