Effective analysis of the results of an autosomal genealogical DNA test (AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA , etc.) is best done with a paper tree that is as complete as possible. While the DNA test is often done to extend that pedigree, it’s easier to sift through those records when your paper tree is as complete as you can make it. Being able to sift what you can helps you to focus on the “real” reason you took the test in the first place.
For this reason, while waiting for those DNA results to come back, here are things to consider doing besides checking your email repeatedly:
- extend branches of your ancestral tree that you’ve not worked on already–if possible.
- determine your genealogical pools of ancestors--we’ve discussed this earlier (“Pooling the Pages of my DNA Matches” and “More Pooling DNA Matches“). How easy or difficult this will be depends on your own ancestry, but if your background is regionally or ethnically diverse, it can help.
- determine as many descendants of your great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, great-great-great-grandparents as you can. I realize that doing the DNA test in the first place for some people is to locate other relatives. Sorting your matches, particularly those with minimal trees attached or no tree at all, will be easier if you already know some of these descendants. Other DNA matches will (for the most part) be living people and connecting as many of them as you can will be easier if you’ve already documented descendants of these individuals. It’s fine if you have blanks and people you cannot find.
The intent here is to help you sort through those matches when you get them so that you can focus on the individuals and families that were the “real reason” you did the DNA test in first place.
But you make also make unexpected discoveries along the way. I know that I did.
Match sorting is discussed in more detail in my AncestryDNA webinars.