Monday, August 3, 2015

Free DNA Discoveries from

DNA testing is among the many technological revolutions taking place in the genealogical community. With a little help from AncestryDNA, 23&Me, and Family Tree DNA, you can connect with other descendants of your ancestors to increasingly remote corners of the globe. By collaborating with them, many genealogists are tearing down long standing brick walls and making incredible discoveries.

However, there are limitations to genetic genealogical testing--and not just the 8 generation window the technology gives us at this present time. These limitations instead come from expense, and the boundaries between testing companies. If the descendants to whom you need to connect have tested with a different company than you have, you may not see that match until one or the other of you takes a second test with the right company.

But does it have to be that way? In our day and age of open source software and good digital citizenship, there are no necessary boundaries between testing companies anymore.

Introducing is a website which allows users from each of these testing companies to upload their DNA test results. No matter where you live or which of the testing companies has performed your test, is free for you to use. You are then placed into a database, which includes users from each of the major testing companies.

Learning to use GEDmatch requires a little more than the average sit-down to learn how to use it. Because of that, we've provided a beginners guide with our Genetic Genealogy video series. This final video in that series provides a beginners introduction to GEDmatch, and the three most essential tools on that site: the One-to-Many match list, the One-to-One analysis, and the Admixture utilities.

Have you taken a DNA test and are still waiting to make the right cousin match? Check out and see what you can discover today!

AUTHORS NOTE: This is not a compensated endorsement. I receive nothing from GEDmatch for writing this post.


  1. Hi Heather, thanks for this. I will enjoy watching your video. I have just sent a DNS sample to Family Tree DNA, and uploading my data to Gedcom was on my list to do.

  2. Hi Heather, just read your other page about disappointment with Ancestry DNA, I feel so much better now -- thought I was the only one, being quite a newbie. Will watch your video shortly on GED, thanks so much for all your work. Now following on Google + from Toronto.

  3. Heather,
    Excellent post. And, so are many of the others I've just read on your blog. I came across your blog because I decided to click on the "next blog" option at the upper left of screen from my own blog home page. What a wonderful way to discover new blogs. We have some things in common and that's interesting as I am 65 and you are 25. I am primarily a digital genealogist. I don't print anything or create any paper. The only paper I have are vital records I've ordered. I scan them and then I can't bear to toss them. I have a very good digital filing system. I use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google plus. Not so much Instagram. I teach classes on social media for genealogy and I'm the Social Media Coordinator for the San Diego Genealogical Society. I will say to you, though, that going to courthouses, libraries and historical societies can enrich your research experience a lot. While there, I never use the copy machine, but instead use a camera to take pictures of any book pages or documents. I belong to several genealogy societies in areas of family interest. I don't want them to die out and support them for that reason. Many keep collections that might otherwise be lost. I've written posts on my blog about societies, seminars and social media. You can visit my blog at if you care to take a look. In the meantime, keep writing and researching, I'll be back to read more.

  4. Dear Heather,

    I really enjoyed watching this miniseries. I have a couple of questions. I intend to use to order my DNA Profile as it happens to be the cheapest. Am I right in thinking that I would only need to get one parent tested in addition to myself? That is, if I saw matches that related to me and my mother/fathers DNA, I could establish whether the cousin is related maternally, or paternally by similarity, or by differences?

    Secondly, I am also researching my wife's family tree. Unfortunately she has outlived both her parents, but has a couple of aunts on her mother's and father's side. Would this be enough to help bridge the gaps, in a DNA sense?

    Thanks so much for these videos as they've really made me think past the superficiality of admixtures into making this a potentially useful genealogical tool. Needless to say I can see some caveats, which you've probably addressed. The largest of these being collaboration. Whilst the DNA tells of your relationship to a cousin, there still remains the possibility that they've got no further than you have in their research. The other caveat is common interest. With many users on gedmatch, it's still quite limited in the number of the worlds population who a) share the same interest; and b, got themselves tested and uploaded it.

    That said, any advice on how to proceed is greatly appreciated with respect to my wife's circumstances.

    Kind regards,


    1. Hi Simon,

      To answer simply the questions you've asked regarding you and your wife, I would say yes and yes. If you're content with simply building the broadest base from which to start your analysis, testing yourself, at least one of your parents, or someone as closely related as possible to your parents, or one of your grandparents is what I would advise. This will be the fastest way to begin sorting matches according to line.

      A more nuanced answer that would relate specifically to your wife, it depends on what research questions you want to answer. If you know that you're trying to answer questions about a specific family line, choosing a specific relative to test becomes more important. You'd want to choose someone who also would have inherited dna segments from the ancestor in question, preferably the least removed in generations. So for example, in absence of being able to test my biological grandmother, who was married twice, if I had my way I would test her daughter from her previous marriage instead of my uncle. Any DNA I share with her would be limited exactly to my grandmother's line, as opposed to my uncle. His dna would include matches from my grandfather and my grandmother both. Since I have matches in abundance from my grandfather, and have done good work on my triangulation there, I would help myself more to isolate the matches I want, based on who I test.

      Hope that helps. Good luck!