How to Build Your Family Tree Using Genetics
How much do you know about where your family came from? Are there any “missing links” in the story of your family history that you’d like to try to discover? And how far back do you think you can trace your family?
Amateur genealogy researchers all over the world are asking themselves these questions - and trying to answer them using genetics. Building out your family tree can be a multi-step process, involving combing through municipal records, interviewing living relatives, and taking a DNA test. There have never been more resources available to those who wish to build a more complete family tree. Let’s look at some of the steps you can take - including discovering more about your genetics - to complete your family tree.
Building Your Family Tree: Where to Start
There is a wealth of information available to you - much of it for free - when you start to work on building your family tree. A good place to start is by interviewing living relatives. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other extended family members can give you the names, dates and places of birth, and other key information about great-grandparents, distant cousins, and more. These oral histories and family memories or stories that have been passed down from generation to generation are invaluable sources of information.
Once you have some biographical information and other clues, you can move on to conducting online research. The National Archives, for example, maintains an entire website dedicated to genealogy research. Here, you’ll find links to free databases, census records, military records, immigration records, and countless other sources of information that can help you locate family members and learn more about them. They even offer free charts and forms that you can use to map your family tree.
Websites like MyHeritage or GeneologyBank let you enter the name of a relative to search a range of records including birth records, death records, marriage records, and historical newspaper articles. As you explore more resources, you’ll find more facts as well as clues that will help you build your family tree.
Using Genetics to Understand Family Ancestry
Today’s family tree builders have access to one resource their ancestors couldn’t have imagined: DNA testing. At-home DNA test results can help you locate living relatives you didn’t know, better understand your ethnicity to know where your ancestors came from, and give you clues that will help you conduct more traditional forms of research like looking through municipal records.
DNA test takers are sometimes surprised by what they discover in their genes. For example, you might think your ancestors came from Italy, but a DNA test could reveal Irish ancestry as well. Now, you have another path to explore as you build out your family tree. Scientific data about your genetics can also help confirm family stories or close off cold trails.
All of these resources work best when used together. The more information you have - whether through family stories or genetic data - the more complete you’ll be able to make your family tree.
Learn Even More About Your Ancestry with Genomelink
If you’ve already taken an at-home DNA test, dive even deeper into your family history with Genomelink. At Genomelink you’ll find dozens of reports on ancestry, traits, health, and more that aren’t available anywhere else. Simply upload your raw DNA data from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, and other testing companies to discover your full genetic potential.
Genomelink also grants you access to proprietary ancestry reports, like our popular DNA Match, Ancient Ancestry Report, African Breakdown Report, and Viking Index Report. Explore your personalized Genomelink DNA Dashboard, where you can learn more about your family history inherited traits. Get started for free, and see how Genomelink can help you continue to build your growing family tree.