Never Forget Where You Came From: How to Track and Trace Your Ancestry

More people than ever before are interested in tracing their lineage and finding out about the branches on their family tree. A plethora of tv programs featuring celebrities discovering their ancestry has fueled a fascination with the subject and got many of us wondering about the identity of our forebears or where, geographically, our long-distant relatives came from in the world.

Tracking ancestry has never been simpler, so if you’d like to trace your lineage, it’s easy to get started today. Here are your options:

At-Home DNA Testing

Set the wheels in motion from the comfort of your own home with DNA testing kits that you can do yourself. Simply order a kit from a reputable company, and everything you need will arrive within a few days, complete with easy-to-follow instructions to guide you through the entire process.

The test itself is totally painless: all you need to do is take swabs from the inside of your cheeks, place them in the provided vial or container, seal them, and send them back using the pre-paid envelope provided. Depending on the service you use, results come back between four to six weeks, although some companies offer an express turnaround of just a matter of days.

To help you make a decision on whether an at-home testing kit is right for you, have a look at these reviews of some of the top DNA testing options – you’ll find here the details of each, including the cost, how long it’ll take to receive the results, and the kind of information you can expect to receive.

Visit a Testing Clinic

You may prefer to visit a testing facility in-person to get a DNA test. Ensure that the clinic is reputable, accredited, and government-sanctioned and can provide you with the service that you’re looking for. You may be given a cheek swab test, or blood may be taken to get the sample needed. The length of time that it’ll take to get your results back will vary according to the individual clinic, so ask about this before making an appointment.


Research Your Family Tree

As well as using DNA testing, you can also create a family tree going back multiple generations by researching online. Before you start, gather as much information on known family members as possible, including names, date of birth (and death, if relevant), and the names and dates of birth of their spouse and children, if any. Double-check that you’ve got correct spellings. Once you’ve gone as far as you can from talking to family members, begin the online search: census records are usually the best place to start; don’t forget to check maiden names if your search doesn’t yield results. Naturalization documents could also be trawled, as well as records of marriages and baptism, for example.

You may wish to instruct the services of a genealogy service, to help you track down the missing details and build up a comprehensive picture of your lineage or join an ancestry site to potentially link up with distant family members – some of these are free to use.


How Results Are Determined

DNA tests to determine heritage and ethnic origins usually rely on vast databases, which your sample is then cross-referenced against to determine your results. With this in mind, when choosing which company to purchase a DNA test kit from, you may want to take into account the size of their database.

Some companies also have libraries of additional digitized documents that you will be able to access for an additional fee to continue your genealogy adventure. Your own sample will be added to this database, potentially helping other people to trace their ancestry in the future.


What A DNA Test Can Reveal About Your Heritage

A DNA test can reveal fascinating details about your family’s history, although the specifics will depend on the service provider you use. In most cases, your results will include an ethnicity estimate, revealing where in the world your ancestors were likely to have come from – some tests will even show you your ancient origins, your family’s migration paths over many generations and can connect you to other users who you’re related to.

Family tree tools and builders are included with some tests, allowing you to continue to build up a picture of your family’s history.


What’s Next?

Getting your ancestry results helps you to better understand your family tree and your genealogical origin, and it could be the start of a fascinating family history project. If you wish, it also allows you to make contact with living family members that you may not have been aware existed. You could even continue your quest by uploading the details of your DNA sample to other websites to potentially find out more about your family’s history and discover other living matches.

Whether you undertake a DNA test simply out of interest or as part of a wider mission to discover the identities and lives of your ancestors, getting started is the work of minutes: simply order an at-home testing kit to begin the process.