5 reasons to get multiple DNA tests to find family history, says RootsTech 2023 presenter

Your DNA Guide founder and CEO Diahan Southard encourages RootsTech attendees to tell their stories by getting a DNA test

Diahan Southard, founder and CEO of Your DNA Guide, spoke to a virtual and live audience in a RootsTech 2023 class March 2, asking two questions: “Should I take a DNA test elsewhere? Should I take one at all?” 

Southard said her company use DNA tests to help individuals learn about their family history and relationships. With a DNA test, people can find what they’re looking for as well as information they were unaware of.

There are five reasons to receive multiple DNA tests, Southard shared:

  1. Getting a different kind of DNA test.
  2. Developing a different opinion.
  3. Finding more matches.
  4. Using special tools.
  5. There is a lot of extra time to do this.

1. Receiving multiple DNA tests

There are three kinds of DNA testing: autosomal, Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA.

Autosomal DNA tests draw from both sides of an individual’s family, half the DNA from the mother and half from the father. Y-DNA can only trace from the male parent; mitochondrial DNA tests are traced through the mother’s DNA.

2. Getting a second opinion

Different results from various ethnicity tests can help determine one’s family ethnicity, Southard said. DNA companies must have reference to a person’s particular ethnic population to service them. 

Also, an individual must find a company that can provide information relevant to one’s time frame, Southard added. A “genealogical sweet spot” to find the best results is to trace back hundreds of years. Such results are relevant and provide geographical information which can help aid one in finding records of their ancestors. 

She said the best f testing company is Family Tree DNA for Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA testing.

The company 23andMe maps out a timeline of a person’s ethnic ties to ancestors in different time periods. Overall, the best companies to find DNA matches from the past hundreds of years are AncestryDNA, 23andMe and MyHeritage DNA.

3. Finding more matches

Southard said finding “best matches,” the lineages you want to research, are the results to look for. “Best known matches,” who one already knows and is related to, can be used to find “best mystery matches,” matches related to the lineage a person is trying to research.

YouDNAGuide provides the Shared Matches Tool that uses a best known match to filter out other matches.

If a person wants to find more matches, Southard said, they should start with AncestryDNA, which has a database of 23 million people. The DNA tests can be transferred to MyHeritage DNA and Family Tree DNA, which will determine more matches.

4. Special tools

Chromosome browsers and autoclustering are examples of “special tools” used to help people discover their relationships. A chromosome browser is used to determine which physical traits one shares with another person, but not as reliant for genetic information. Autoclustering helps to find how a person’s matches are related to each other.

The best way to learn more about one’s matches, Southard added, is sorting through the information oneself instead of wholly relying on the computer system.

To follow up on her opening questions about taking a DNA test, she said, “You don’t have to take a DNA test, but the more people in your family that take a DNA test, the less it will matter if you do or not because we’re still going to find out all the things.”

She encouraged the audience to participate in DNA testing and to take charge of their own story.

Southard’s past classes are also available on demand, and another session, “Shared DNA Matches — the Only DNA Tool You Will Ever Need,” is available starting Saturday, March 4, at 3 p.m.

See for information about free registration for virtual classes and other events during the March 2-4 family history event.

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