In an effort to assist the
growing number of patrons who are interested in DNA testing from a
genealogical perspective, I am sharing some of the most popular questions
asked and some basic answers.
1. Why is genetic testing becoming so important to many genealogists?
a. DNA testing may provide a scientific way of validating or invalidating
information found in genealogical records or family traditions.
b. Tests may answer nagging questions about surname changes, adoptions, or
illegitimacies in family lines.
c. Test results may verify relationships with a family from a region where
you believe someone in your family line lived regardless of what the facts
at hand indicate or suggest.
d. If you have a suspicion, regardless of the reason, that you have a
common ancestor with another individual or group.
e. Because of the recent advances in DNA test procedures and the
convergence of genetics and genealogy, some proponents feel that DNA
testing can make up for gaps in records availability.
2. How are these tests administered?
a. DNA tests administered for genealogical purposes do not involve any
type of bloodletting versus those used for medical or criminal justice
b. You would order a test from a licensed company or vendor and receive a
cheek swab kit in the mail or go to a specified testing facility.
c. The toothbrush-like device is used to painlessly scrape the inside of
d. You place the device and sample in the pre-paid envelope or container
and ship it back to the company for analysis.
e. Your sample will be coded to protect your identity. The company will
send you an information packet containing the results and what they mean.
3. What current DNA testing for genealogical purposes CANNOT tell you:
a. Since the number of people who have taken the battery of tests is still
small, the results must be taken with a grain of salt.
b. In spite of what some proponents and critics claim, these tests will
not reveal any information about your health or your predisposition for
certain diseases. Since the regions being examined are between your genes
(some refer it this as junk DNA), result are to vague for any medical
c. These tests do not create a unique personal fingerprint that can be put
in a database to identify a specific individual.
d. These tests will not conclusively tell you which ethnic group or tribe
you may belong to or the exact country of origin for your specific
surname. The tests are designed to allow you to make an educated guess
based upon certain genealogical characteristics.
The Fort Myers-Lee County Library has a number of study guides and
articles that go into greater detail on this subject. These study guides
are available for photocopying.
Bryan L. Mulcahy
Fort Myers-Lee County Library
2050 Central Avenue
Fort Myers, FL 33901-3917
Tel: (239)- 479-4651
Fax: (239)- 479-4634