"How robust is your tree?"


30 June 2022
'How robust is your tree?" This is a question that DNA detective Michelle Leonard asks again and again. Read on to discover why she does and why your answer is so important...

When it comes to DNA testing for genealogy, DNA is an awesome tool for the genealogist's toolbox. However it is not a replacement for traditional tree building. In fact you will discover that the more ancestor names and details you know and have added to your tree, the better able you will be to spot where a DNA match fits on your family tree, i.e. which of your branches the match descends from.

While some of your DNA matches may have surnames you recognise, or places familiar to your own family history, it is extremely likely that there will be surnames and places that mean nothing to you (and of course we all need to beware jumping to conclusions simply because of a matching name or place anyway).

By building out your family tree you will be better able to see where your DNA matches fit on your family tree. This means researching not just your direct lines, but also your indirect ones. Add in the siblings of your grandparents, great-grandparents etc, going back in time. In addition, research their descendants too.

For example, it makes absolute sense that you are extremely unlikely to find your great-great-grandmother as a DNA match in a DNA testing company. However it is very possible that you will find a third cousin - who shares that same great-great-grandmother with you. If you have traced your ancestors' children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren etc, then your chances of identifying where your DNA matches fit on your (robust!) family tree are very much improved.

Building out our family trees is a long-term goal. However by making a start today you will land yourself in a good position to get more out of your DNA as the weeks and months go by.

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Understanding efficient ways to build your family tree online in order to help your DNA research are just some of the things taught on the DNA Bootcamp by DNA detective Michelle Leonard.

Book your place on the DNA Bootcamp

The DNA Bootcamp is an online 8-week DNA course for family historians tutored by Michelle Leonard and hosted by Family Tree. To find out more, get the dates in your diary, and to sign up for your place, click here. (Prices from £55 to £90).

PS Get the Workbook & Join the Group

When you book on the DNA Bootcamp starting 28 September you will also receive:

  • a digital copy of the 52 page DNA Workbook - packed with tips and tasks
  • & an invitation to join an exclusive DNA Facebook group that will run for the duration of the course

Any questions about the DNA Bootcamp, please email [email protected]