DNA + Family Trees
A DNA test is one of many genealogy tools that can help you learn more about your ancestors and your family story. And while a DNA test can provide insights about your past that traditional research methods can’t, it still works best when paired with a family tree, backed up by historical records and documents.
The big picture is in your DNA.
Your family story is one that spans centuries, likely moving from place to place around the globe. A genealogical DNA test, like AncestryDNA®, can provide a glimpse of that epic sweep, revealing your ethnic roots and the framework within which your family grew and expanded over the years.
The details are in your family tree.
Family history is about more than just your family’s origins and migrations. Each of your ancestors has a story to tell. Some may have braved hardship or sought out adventure, while others simply led quiet lives. But even if their stories are common, they are no less compelling for it. They are your people and every choice they made or action they took inevitably led to you.
These stories aren’t recorded in your DNA and to find them, there is no substitute for good old-fashioned records. Documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, military records, and census data can let you build your family tree back through time, linking one generation to the next and revealing details that tell you who they were.
Supporting roles—how DNA and family trees work together.
A DNA test can provide powerful confirmation for your family tree research and can even guide you in directions you didn’t anticipate. For instance, if your tree leads you to believe that your family is from Ireland, your DNA ethnicity results may back that up. On the other hand, if your records trail goes cold, your DNA results may give you a clue on where else to look.
AncestryDNA, in particular, can provide you with even more powerful features when paired with a family tree. Suppose your grandmother told you that one of your ancestors sailed across the Atlantic with the Pilgrims, but you had never been able to find out if the story was true or not. After you submit your AncestryDNA kit, we compare your DNA with millions of tests in our database and give you a list of DNA matches to explore—people you are likely related to. If some of them have Pilgrims in their family trees, then your grandmother may have been right after all.
Growing your tree through DNA matches.
AncestryDNA has a private, secure messaging system that you can use to reach out and connect with your DNA matches. It’s always possible that they may know something about your family that you don’t. You can collaborate on research or share stories, photos, and more.
Another AncestryDNA feature is its ability to find common surnames between your family tree and those of your DNA matches. Since your DNA results can tell you with a high degree of confidence that you are related to your matches, finding the same surnames in your trees can bolster your confidence in your research and help you quickly determine how you are related. In many cases, AncestryDNA can even identify the ancestors you share in common for you—no digging required.
In short, even though genealogical DNA tests can provide an entirely new perspective on your family story, they are always stronger when coupled with a family tree. And there is no better place to get them both than at Ancestry.