3 Ways to Use DNA Results for Genealogy

There are many ways you can take your DNA results to the next level for genealogy purposes.

Phasing, clustering, mapping, grouping, the possibilities to organize your data go on and on. But anything you might do falls into one of three buckets. It’s important to start with #1, work your way to #2 and ultimately achieve #3.

1. Exploration: This involves going through your matches, examining shared matches & shared connections, finding family trees for matches or building out trees for them (quick-and-dirty trees), identifying geographic locations you have in common with matches, and looking for any connections you can. While it’s easy to get carried away with distant matches, it’s best to start with closer matches and work your way from there.

2. Speculation: You have to approach this with caution, it can easily lead you astray, but it can also be rewarding in terms of new discoveries. This is where you speculate how matches are related, paternal or maternal, which segments you inherited from which families, and so on. It is an educated guess, with information to support it, based on your exploration. For a new match with unfamiliar surnames in their pedigree, you might at least see geography in common and you may note that. Whatever you can speculate, make a note and over time you may confirm it. The key here is to be flexible. Any speculation about a match or a segment is subject to change as you acquire more info. One thing to keep in mind here: it’s easy to be related to someone in more than one way, especially as you go back further in time.

3. Verification: This is the most exciting because it’s where you achieve confirmation. You’ve developed concrete evidence, multiple pieces of evidence (DNA + traditional records), supporting how you are related to a match. You have used triangulation or you tested a parent so you know for certain if they are a paternal or maternal match. You are able to confirm or infer the grandparent you are related through based on phasing after testing a sibling or multiple siblings. You confirm ancestors in your tree, one by one, through verification, seeing that their descendants and their siblings’ or close cousins’ descendants match you. You confirm an unknown ancestor or break through a brickwall by verifying it with DNA coupled with traditional records. This is when you can update your tree with confidence.

These 3 steps are important for any genealogy research with DNA, but they are especially important for Irish research. That’s because there aren’t as many records available as you go back in time, so your tree and/or your matches’ trees are likely incomplete. You need to carefully note surnames that appear repeatedly, locations that appear repeatedly, and how matches are connected to each other to make progress. At the very least you can explore and speculate. If you are lucky, you will achieve verification.

Ready to take your DNA to the next level? Have a look at these:

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