The Gift of Family

by Kelly

‘Tis the season for giving and receiving gifts of all kinds, including some you may not know what to do with. It is my suspicion that this year, more than a few people may find themselves on the receiving end of the increasingly popular home DNA genealogy kit.

As the holiday season reaches its peak and the New Year arrives, I’m sure you will have seen many television and internet ads from big companies like or 23andMe offering to bring families closer with a simple swab or spit kit that will reveal your genetic genealogy. Results from your home DNA kit can reveal details of your lineage, including your main ethic makeup and possibly your ancestor’s point of origin. When your data results are uploaded to a worldwide database, you can learn about surnames that tie into your genetic family tree, and have long-lost first, second, and third cousins that you didn’t know you have asking to connect with you.

But which test do you take? From which company do you purchase from? And then what?

There are three types of DNA tests kits available. Y-DNA is a “male-specific” test that will trace the paternal line only, an Autosomal test that can be taken by a male or female and covers both sides of your parents’ ancestry, and the Mitochodrial DNA test can be taken by both males and females, but only reveals your maternal ancestry.

Tests can be purchased from companies like 23andMe, AncestryDNA, Family Finder, and MyHeritage, to name a few. If you received a test as a gift, take the time to learn which type of test it is and from which company. You will want and need to know this information, as it will help you understand how to interpret your results when they arrive.

DNA testing is genetic science, and the results read like science. It is confusing and hard to understand, so do your best to read up on it beforehand! Check our shelves for “The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy: How to Harness the Power of DNA to Advance Your Family Tree Research,” by Blaine T. Bettinger for starters, or visit the website of genetic genealogy leader Richard Hill at to learn more.

Lastly, join one of our genealogy group sessions in the library to talk with a few of our resident genealogy DNA enthusiasts to learn more about uploading and reading your results. Our Silk City Genealogy Interest Group (GIG) meets the first Friday of each month at 10 am, and starting in January, we will offer a three-session Beginning Genealogy class, with the first session taking place Thursday, January 30 at 10 am.


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