Genealogy is the science with the power to define us. Like a detective novel, for those who journey along the path of discovery in search of answers, it can often be a fascinating, revealing and often gripping adventure.
For those contemplating taking a DNA test as part of their ancestry research, the choices can be quite baffling. So we turned to Leigh Dworkin, Chairman of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain to give us some guidance. This is what he told us:
There are 4 DNA companies to consider. FamilyTreeDNA (the original DNA matching database, and still considered best for Jewish DNA by some), MyHeritage (an Israeli company), Ancestry, LivingDNA.
If you just want to work out ethnicity, then they all do that and the results are a curiosity and not very accurate. If you want to find DNA matches, then the size of the database and the proportion of that which is Jewish DNA matters.
So I started with FamilyTreeDNA because it had the largest Jewish DNA database. Subsequently, AncestryDNA came on the scene and it has the largest DNA database, and by now it may have a larger Jewish database.
Whichever company you choose, you should transfer your data to the other databases. Then you will be fishing in a bigger pond. It may cost a little to transfer, but I did mine for free. The only trouble is that Ancestry won’t let you transfer in any other company’s test data. Because of this, I bought an AncestryDNA test too, late last year. So the smartest thing to do is to take an Ancestry test, and then transfer it to the other three, especially FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage. I haven’t transferred to LivingDNA as they are the new kids on the block.
There is one other company called GEDmatch.com where you can transfer your data. However, they share the data with US law enforcement, so not a good idea if you are a criminal or have any criminals in the family! You can opt-out, but should you trust them?
Assuming that you decide to go for Ancestry, it might be possible to do an Ancestry.com rather than Ancestry.co.uk test. The DNA Matches will be identical, but there are some extra US-only services provided. In particular, there is something called trait analysis which can predict your hair colour, eye colour and type of ear wax (this is not a joke) plus scores of other traits. These services will probably come to the UK at some point. But if your life isn’t complete unless you know your predicted ear wax type, and you can’t wait, then you could consider the .com rather than the .co.uk. Or just get a cotton bud. (This is a joke)
The Together Plan runs a archive service in Belarus. Click here for more information.