The photo above is of the old town square in Warsaw. Stunning image!
Did you get your Ancestry DNA results back expecting to see Polish as your ethnicity? Surprise! In this article, you will learn why your Polish DNA won’t show up on Ancestry’s DNA ethnicity estimate.
How does Polish show up on Ancestry?
If you have Polish ancestry, your Polish DNA will show up as Eastern European. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t Polish, or that you are. Only tracing your family tree, using a paper trail or your DNA matches, can tell you for sure. Testing your DNA and showing Eastern European, however, is a good first start.
Why doesn’t my ethnicity estimate show Polish?
Ancestry DNA uses a database full of DNA samples from people who are native to regions all over the world. The current size of the Eastern European database is 646 people who are native (and can show a long family history in their region) to that geographic region. The way that Ancestry describes the way they test implies that everyone in the database is described as Eastern Europe, and that they don’t have the reference population divided into more specific regions – such as Poland.
There is a huge demand for genetic DNA tests that are even more accurate and sensitive to more detailed geographic regions. I believe that as this technology progresses, we might see them begin to divide the Eastern European region into more specific ethnicities. One great thing about having tested with Ancestry DNA is that as they improve their results, your individual test results will be automatically updated with the more current information.
Is there such a thing as a Polish ethnicity?
Yes. Around a thousand years ago, a tribe called the “Polans” was able to bring together tribes from the surrounding areas (basically, what is now Poland). These people began to identify as Polish, and shared a language and culture. The descendants of these peoples are what are now known as ethnic Poles. If you have ancestors born in Poland, or if you were born in Poland, you are likely descended from this group.
How do I learn more about my Polish ancestry?
If you want to learn more about where your family came from, these are the steps that you should take:
- Talk to your family to learn as much as possible (try using my Family Interview Worksheet to know which questions to ask)
- With the information you gather (and what you already know), start building a family tree. I like using Ancestry for this purpose. With this link, you can get a two-week free trial (though I will get a small commission if you end up sticking with it – it helps me support this website, and I appreciate your support): Start Your Free Family Tree! 14 Day Free Trial
- Consider learning about and using Gedmatch in order to get as much information from your DNA as possible. (What is Gedmatch?)
- To find Polish DNA matches that have tested with other websites, upload to other sites like Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage DNA. These family members might be able to help you learn about your Polish family history.
For the time being, we just have to take comfort in the fact that our Polish ancestry shows up in our DNA as Eastern European. Maybe someday we will be able to know more details about DNA and our ethnic heritage. With the knowledge obtained from our DNA tests in hand, the best way to learn about our Polish ancestry is through good, old-fashioned genealogy.
Did you find Eastern European in your DNA? Do you know where it came from? I would love to hear your story!
Thanks for stopping by.