Tuesday, January 31, 2023

A Genealogical Adventure Awaits - Am I Ready

Have any of my readers taken a DNA test (Ancestry, or 23 and Me, for example)?  If so, what have your experiences been, if you are willing to share any of those in the comments?

So far I've resisted taking one of these tests, although a cousin I met several years ago after not having been in contact for many years (a long story) encouraged me to, saying "you'll be surprised at what you will find".  He and his wife had both had their DNA tested.

Other people I know have privacy concerns about the data these testing companies collect.  The NY Times article I am linking to explains this further.

One of my first cousins on my father's side has been doing some genealogical research recently after using a 23 and me test. He was matched up to several second cousins of ours.  Eventually, I wonder if any will want to get in touch with me.

I'm excited but, as someone who is extremely introverted, also hesitant.

A part of me wants to know more, and not just about my father's side. I don't have to hand over DNA to find relatives I didn't know I had on my father's side, as this same uncle had done research about twenty years ago on our family. (He's in his late 90's now). But my mother's side is a different story. 

I'm an only child.  My parents died many years ago. 

Because of my particular ethnic and religious heritage, I know I may not be able to go back that far in time, either, thanks to the events of World War II.

A number of bloggers I read have some knowledge of genealogical research (unlike me), and two have helped me in the past.

One helped me find a record of my mother's parents, my mother, and two other siblings still at home in the 1950's census.  I knew the address of my grandparents but there was more needed to find the record.  She gave me what I needed and I've never thanked her publicly.  Let me do that now.  Thank you, Denise.

It was an interesting peek into my mother's life before she was married and had me.

The other blogger helped me find some information about the town where my mother's father grew up.  A record of his I found years ago on Ancestry (again, on a "free use" day) gave the town's name but I couldn't find it online anywhere.  This woman gave me a link. (Apparently the name of the town on my grandfather's record was the German name although it was part of Austria-Hungary, but the town is currently in Poland and goes by a different, Polish name.)  In 2016, using this woman's link, I found enough to suspect its Jewish population had been murdered during World War II but I still couldn't locate the town itself.

Sunday, I revisited the information and found the name that ancestral town is known by today.  I also found out its Jewish residents had been rounded up and eventually sent to the Belzec death camp in Poland.  I had known my mother's oldest brother had not emigrated with the rest of the family in the early 20th century, and I may now know what happened to him and any other relatives I still had back "in the old country".  May they forever rest in peace.   

So I owe this blogger thanks, too.  Thank you, Holly.

Would DNA testing even help me find out more about my roots on my mother's side?  Is it worth the money and the possible loss of personal data?

I'm really curious to have facts that would help me make up my mind as to going ahead with it.   I hope some of my blog readers can, again, help.

I thank you in advance.


  1. ...this has never interested me.

  2. I know a professional Jewish geographer who gave me some sources to check Have you tried JRI-Poland.org or family search.org

  3. My husband has those same privacy concerns. /Carol C

  4. I had my DNA done by Ancestry several years ago. I have found out an unbelievable amount of family information that I would not have found otherwise. I did do an A to Z about my search a few years ago. I should probably do an update.
    I have never worried about loss of privacy. Unfortunately I do not have a NYT subscription so I couldn't read the article. I have found a lot of cousins who were conceived out of wedlock and have helped several trace the parents.
    I just wish I had a brother so I could get some more paternal DNA info.
    BTW, I believe that MyHeritage site has Jewish data. I recently discovered a cousin was sent to Buchenwald in 1940 and died at Auschwitz in 1945.

  5. Hi Alana:
    That sounds like a tough one to me. My Mom did an extensive genealogical chart of both sides of my family recently and I am so glad she did. My sister says we shouldn't share our DNA with those sites because they own it then. I am more interested in my husband's family history, because it includes some Native Americans and he doesn't know very much about it.
    Good Luck, Laura

  6. I say do it! I'm all about connecting with our ancestors! I'm proud of every one of mine. Horse thieves all the way to knights. They and their stories are what made ME!

  7. I'm not doing it because of those privacy concerns, I already feel violated by how much of our personal information is "out there." My uncle and cousin did an extensive ancestry search for our family, the results fill an entire book.

  8. I don't know what you should do. I haven't done my DNA, but my brother and my father both have. Neither discovered anything we didn't already know.

    However, my brother's wife found her father. Her mother never told her much about him, and she died five years ago, now. Through the DNA, she connected with some cousins who figured out who her father had to be, and she met him (and some siblings she didn't know about) for the first time last year. It was something she needed to do.

  9. Finally got to read the article. Not a criminal, so not worried. I suggest you put your name in Google and search. I did it with your name and learned a lot. There is no privacy anymore. And you can always keep your family tree and results private.

  10. I went through this a few years ago at the behest of one of my daughters. It was interesting although I can't say I actually learned anything unexpected.

  11. I am ambivalent about doing a DNA test. Government and insurance companies tend to access them against your interests. Yet so many big enterprises get to own your DNA information too

  12. My brother and his wife are very much into genealogy (their church), and I did mine at his request, since both our parents are dead, and he didn't want to ask our brother. Mine had a few surprises, except months later they updated and those surprises were gone. They update quite a bit as more people do it, so it's not really reliable that way. My brother goes more by records, census data, etc. Although DNA doesn't lie, it's not a perfect system having it done yet. My brother found a few far far distant relatives. He cares, I don't! I did meet up with some sort of cousin when she passed through town. We have the same grandfather. That was that, no reason to stay in contact.

  13. I did it last year and it was interesting. My daughter is doing her Masters Project on me because I was adopted and there is nothing on my side. We might have found my birth mother.


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