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Start Here: Genetic Genealogy Tools and Resources

Welcome to the “Who Are You Made Of” tool section!  I’m so glad that you have discovered DNA testing and genealogy and I am happy to have you here on my website. 

I have carefully selected a list of blog posts, tools, and services that I absolutely love.  I have personally used every single resource that I have listed on this page, and every single one has been very important for me in learning as much as I can about my own DNA and family history.

On this page, you’ll find:

  • How to sign up for my newsletter, the WAYMO newsletter
  • Advice about how to choose a DNA test
  • Best blog posts for beginners, especially if you just got your DNA results back
  • Top recommendations for family tree research, including where to find free records
  • Information about how to analyze your DNA on various websites, including Gedmatch
  • Links to my top posts about ethnicity estimates
  • Top posts about how to understand your DNA matches

Before we get started learning about all of the resources available to you on your genetic genealogy journey, I must give you an important disclosure:

Important disclosure:  A few of the links that you’ll see in my list of tools below are affiliate links.  If you use an affiliate link from my website to make a purchase, I might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Your support is very much appreciated – more than you’ll ever know! 

If a link to a site is an affiliate link, I’ll make a note of it next to the link so you’ll know.  I would never add a product or service to this resource page unless I have used it and would recommend it to friends and family, and I would recommend them whether or not I earned a small commission or not. 

Please, only spend money on something if you think it will really help you with your DNA research or family tree goals 🙂

The articles on this site will help you learn about DNA testing, use your DNA results to learn more about your family’s origins, and build your family tree.  On this page, you can find articles about all sorts of topics in order to help you get started, as well as links to the DNA testing products that I recommend.

Sign up for the WAYMO newsletter

If you are new to this site, or are new to genetic genealogy and DNA testing in general, the first thing that I would recommend that you do is sign up to be on my e-mail list.  I’ll send you a weekly newsletter (usually on Saturday or Sunday). 

My newsletter has all of my newest posts, the latest DNA news, and other helpful information to help you learn more about your DNA and research your family tree:

Recommended DNA Tests

I recommend testing with Ancestry DNA or Family Tree DNA.   They are trustworthy companies with reliable results.  If you click the links below, I will get a small commission, but it doesn’t affect your final price at all.  I appreciate you using this link so that way I can keep up this site and bring helpful articles to you – thank you so much!!!

Ancestry DNA #1 in size of database – best for finding living relatives and accurate ethnicity estimate

I love Ancestry DNA because they have an easy-to-use website and have the biggest DNA database.  I’ve found several previously unknown (to me!) close family members, and have been in touch with dozens of more distant relatives who have shared information with me to help me extend my family tree back more generations than I ever thought possible.

You can read about my recommended DNA testing strategy, but the first step is to do an Ancestry DNA test.  Once you’ve explored your DNA results, you can actually download your DNA file and upload it to several other websites to get even more DNA matches, ethnicity estimates, and learn so much more about your DNA. 

It’s a whole new world, trust me!

To get your Ancestry DNA test, you can click the link below. If you use this link, I may earn a very small commission at no extra cost to you which helps me support the education work that I do here on this website:

AncestryDNA® now offers even more ways to discover your family story.

Family Tree DNA #1 in Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, also offer autosomal DNA testing

Family Tree DNA is a highly reputable company with a lot of experience in the DNA testing arena.  While they do offer autosomal DNA tests (just like the one from Ancestry DNA), I prefer to recommend testing with Family Tree DNA because of their advanced mtDNA and Y-DNA tests. 

Anyone can do an mtDNA test, which can trace your maternal line back thousands of years.  Y-DNA tests are only available for males (sorry ladies, we don’t have a Y-chromosome!) and can trace the male line back thousands of years. 

These tests are useful for certain advanced genealogical uses, and can help males determine the surname of their male line.

Believe it or not, you can even get Y-DNA and mtDNA DNA matches, though it can be hard to determine how far back the common ancestor is – but this is a topic for another day 😉

You can click on the image below (sponsored/affiliate link) to get your Family Tree DNA tests:

My Heritage DNA #1 in international DNA testers and is very easy to use

I really enjoy my My Heritage DNA results for several reasons.  They have a really simple user interface and provide a lot of information to DNA testers.  

My favorite part of my results is being able to browse through my DNA matches based on which country they live in – great for someone like me with tons of cousins all over the world because of my recent immigrant ancestors.  You can see how much DNA you share with your DNA matches, including details like how long the largest DNA segment is. 

You can use a chromosome browser to see exactly which DNA segments you share with your matches, too!

To get your My Heritage DNA test, click the link below:

Get a My Heritage DNA test

Best blog posts for beginners in genetic genealogy

If you just got your DNA results back, you might be interested in my blog posts about how to understanding your DNA results. Each post is fairly extensive, and also includes links to other posts which you might find interesting as you move through your results and begin to understand more.

Did you test with Ancestry DNA?

If you tested with Ancestry DNA, you are in great company. More than 10 million people have done DNA tests with Ancestry, and you will be able to learn a lot from both your ethnicity estimate and your list of DNA matches. I highly recommend taking the time to explore all aspects of your results, ranging from each ethnicity region reported on your ethnicity estimate, as well as the first few pages of your DNA matches.

No matter what your background and how much you already know about your family history, I believe you will be in awe from what you are able to “see” in your DNA from your results.

The following blog posts will walk you through the various aspects of your Ancestry DNA results:

How to Understand your Ancestry DNA Results Part One

How to Understand your Ancestry DNA Results Part Two

Understand your Ancestry DNA matches

Did you test with My Heritage DNA?

If you did your initial DNA test with My Heritage DNA, I am sure that you are enjoying your DNA results. Their website is really easy to use and you have access to a lot of information about your ethnicity results and DNA matches.

One amazing aspect of My Heritage results is that you can see a list of all of the places in the world where your DNA matches (who have also tested with My Heritage) live. It’s amazing to know that you have DNA relatives all over the world!

The following blog post will help you get started understanding various aspects of your My Heritage DNA results:

How to Understand My Heritage DNA Results

Did you test with Family Tree DNA?

Did you just get your Family Tree DNA Family Finder results back? FTDNA (the “nickname” for the site – much shorter than typing out the whole thing!) is an excllent provider of quality DNA tests, including the autosomal DNA testing, which is what we generally refer to when we talk about DNA testing for genealogy.

FTDNA also offers lots of other more advanced DNA tests, but the Family Finder test is a great test for someone who is just learning about how to use DNA to learn about their ancestry.

The following blog posts will help you begin to understand all that your results can teach you:

How to Read Family Tree DNA Family Finder Results

How to Understand Your FTDNA Ethnicity Results

How to figure out how your FTDNA match is related to you

Understand Your Ethnicity Estimate

I’ve always been fascinated by my DNA matches, but I understand the appeal of ethnicity estimates.  It’s a wonderfully simple and fun-to-share way to explore one’s ancestry. 

I’ve been writing on this website for a few years now, and I am always surprised at the questions that come up around ethnicity estimates, and at the amazing interest people have in this topic.

The most popular posts on ethnicity estimates on this site are as follows (I’ll rotate them out as they change over time):

How to Understand Your DNA Match List

If you’ve read many posts that I’ve written, you’ll know that I love, love, love my DNA match lists.  It’s my absolute favorite aspect of autosomal DNA testing. 

I try to check all of my DNA matches on all of the kits that I manage on all of the sites that I use every day (does that sound crazy?!?).

Understanding how you are related to your DNA matches is key to using your matches to build your family tree and forming new family connections.

How to figure out how your DNA matches are related to you

Common questions about DNA matches

Family Tree Research

If you have done a DNA test, one of the most important things that you can do to get the most from your results is to build a family tree.  Even if you don’t know much about your family, you can start with the basics of what you already do know. 

Talk to your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and older cousins.  Every person in your family will have a memory or will know a detail that can help you in your quest to understand your family’s origins.

There are lots of great places online to build a family tree for free, and there is even software you can download so that way you can work on your tree even if you don’t have access to the internet. 

It’s not necessary to pay for an expensive subscription to build your family tree, or even pay for software if you aren’t interested in doing that.  There are lots of amazing resources for this, and completely for free. #1 for building family tree for free

I recommend building a family tree on Ancestry, and hopefully connecting it with your DNA results on that website.  It is free to build your family tree on that site, and a subscription is never necessary to access your family tree and any documents that you have uploaded to your tree. 

You can easily share it with family and friends, too!

Getting access to records can be a great way to build your family tree further back, especially when you find that you need extra help finding online records.  Ancestry is great for this, but I always recommend using the free trial before you actually pay for a subscription. 

I will gladly pay for something that is useful to me, and I don’t want you to get a subscription unless you really find that it will help you.

While you can find a lot of records online for free, Ancestry makes it really easy to attach records to your tree and automatically adds information to your tree for you with a few simple clicks.  This makes building a tree simple and easy. 

No flipping back and forth between browser windows, risking misspellings and mistakes with dates of birth, etc.  You can just click on the record and tell Ancestry to add the details to your tree.  Super easy.

The following link is for a free trial for family records so that way you can see how it works for you.  You won’t lose access to your tree if you cancel your subscription or free trial).  Also, I do earn a small commission if you end up subscribing, which is extremely helpful in supporting this website.  Thank you for using it!

Family Search #1 for finding free records

There are lots of places online to find free records.  Sometimes you’ll have good luck finding a lot of free online records pertaining to your ancestors, and other times you will have to pay to get access to documents and indexes of records. 

Fortunately, there is one most excellent website that really does have an amazing selection of documents that we can search through to learn as much as we can about our ancestors and the name of this site is “Family Search”.

You should definitely check it out!

Click here to visit Family Search (a free account is required to access records)

Top 5 WAYMO blog posts about family tree research

In addition to records, sometimes it’s good to have additional advice and information about how to go about family tree research and learn as much as you can about strategies and techniques for building a family tree. 

I’ve gone through my website traffic stats and I’ve listed the top five most popular posts about family tree research.  This list could periodically change as my reader’s interests do.

How to Analyze Your DNA

I think that one of the coolest parts of using your DNA to learn about your ancestry and your family tree is the ability to use some really neat technology to analyze your DNA and compare your DNA at a detailed level to the DNA of your DNA matches.  What in the world am I talking about?

Remember how I mentioned above that you can download your DNA file and upload to to other websites to get more DNA matches and additional ethnicity estimates?  Well, you can also upload your DNA information to different types of websites in order to analyze it in various ways.

Gedmatch: Most popular FREE website for DNA comparison and other analysis tools

Gedmatch is a really cool website, and it’s free to use.  By uploading your DNA file to Gedmatch, you’ll get the chance to compare your DNA with people who have tested with many different DNA testing companies, not just the one that you chose to test with. 

People are able to upload their DNA to Gedmatch from 23 and Me, Family Tree DNA, Living DNA, and My Heritage DNA, which means you can find DNA relatives this way.

Even more importantly, Gedmatch gives you access to a free chromosome browser, triangulation tools, as well as other more advanced DNA analysis tools.  If it sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. 

I have written several articles to help walk you through the process of getting started on Gedmatch:

To learn a little bit about what Gedmatch is and what kind of information you can learn on the site, you might take a look at this article:

What is Gedmatch?

Once you’ve decided that you are interested in Gedmatch and want to get started using this free website, you’ll need to upload your DNA to the site.  You can read the simple steps here:

How to upload to Gedmatch?

After you have uploaded your DNA, you can start learning about how to use the site and the powerful tools it offers by reading the following post:

How to Use Gedmatch:  The Basics

There are many cool tools on Gedmatch, but one of the most popular is the One-to-Many tool.  This tool allows you to compare your DNA with the DNA information of everyone who has uploaded theirs to the site, and it’s a great way to find new DNA matches, and thus, learn more about your family history. 

The results can seem confusing at first, however, and the following post will walk you through the steps of learning how to understand the results:

Understand One-to-Many Results on Gedmatch

If you have found a DNA match on Gedmatch that interests you, the first thing that you should do is use the One-to-One tool.  This is also a great tool for determining your exact relationship with someone else who is a user of the website. 

These results show you exactly how you match on each chromosome, so it can look complicated at first.  No worries, however, because you can read the following article to help you make sense of what you are seeing:

What Does the Gedmatch One-to-One Comparison Tell Me?

Gedmatch is a site designed to help people learn about their family trees (i.e. genealogy) using their unique DNA.  Knowing that we are related to someone doesn’t help much if we don’t have family trees to compare. 

I highly recommend that you consider uploading your family tree to Gedmatch, and you can read about why in this post:

Should You Upload a Family Tree to Gedmatch?

I hope that you decided that you should upload a tree to the site.  It makes the service more useful for everyone (all of the Gedmatch users)!  If you want to know how to upload your family tree to the site, check out the link below:

How to Upload a Family Tree to Gedmatch


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