Some DNA Questions and Answers

Since yesterday (April 25) was National DNA Day, I thought it would be a good time to share some questions that some family researchers have asked me about genealogy and DNA.

1.       My siblings and I are going to have just one of us do the DNA test to see what our ethnicity results are.  Does that make sense?

Just be aware that the DNA ethnicity results you receive and what your siblings can be different. My brother and I are an example of this.  According to the test, my brother is 68% Irish and I’m 40%.  My DNA shows 36% from Great Britain and while his is only 5%.  He also has 12% Scandinavian that I do not have.  I should also mention that our DNA results match both of us to people on both my mother and father’s line, so there’s no reason to think that we had different fathers.  The first thing to keep in mind is that siblings have different proportions of their four grandparents’ DNA.  The second thing is that the ethnicity estimates from any DNA test are just that… estimates, with some significant margin of error.

2.       I am listed as having 7% Finland/Northwest Russia. I don’t know why that should be.  Should I believe it?

When you take an Ancestry DNA test, you might find some unexpected results that appear in your Ancestry Ethnicity Estimate. For example, if you are Irish you could have Finland/Northwest Russia and/or Iberian Peninsula.  That could come from ethnic mixing of ethnicities in the somewhat distance past, but such low percentages are often considered “low confidence” estimates, so while they are possible, it’s good to take them with a grain of salt.

3.       How can I learn more about DNA?

If you want to learn more about DNA for genealogy, you might consider attending The DNA Group of Long Island meetings, which are on the first Saturday of the month at alternating Nassau and Suffolk locations, currently Bethpage and Patchogue-Medford Public Libraries. Their website is, and they also have a Facebook page. They give a variety lectures on genealogical DNA, and you can meet many other people eager to learn more about the subject.

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