Friday, April 8, 2016

One Jewish Family's DNA Ethnicity Results

I have previously written about AncestryDNA's ethnicity results for my husband here. Since then, I have transferred his DNA to FamilyTreeDNA which is how I connected with a fourth cousin (which I wrote about here.)

FamilyTreeDNA also offers ethnicity results. These come from doing an autosomal DNA test (as opposed to a Y-DNA test or a mitochondrial DNA test). An autosomal DNA test can help a genealogist find cousins, like the fourth cousin mentioned above. I'm not going to get into all the details of DNA testing, but if you're interested, you can read a blog post I wrote at my other blog, Autosomal DNA Testing with FamilyTreeDNA, and you can explore the FTDNA Learning Center.

I thought I'd share one example of why it's interesting and helpful to have both parents tested. (It's also interesting to have all siblings tested, which I have done in my family and you can see those results at From Maine to Kentucky.)

The following colorful images are from FamilyTreeDNA's MyOrigins feature, which shows estimates of an individual's ethnicity going back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The key word here is estimate - this is really just a fun way to see where your distant ancestors came from.

Before my father-in-law died, I was able to get him to donate his DNA for the genealogical cause. This was interesting because he is about as Ashkenazi Jewish as you can get, at 99%:

Father's DNA

My mother-in-law's DNA is only 84% Ashkenazi Jewish with 12% Middle Eastern and 4% Western/Central European:

Mother's DNA

Not surprisingly, my husband has 92% Ashkenazi Jewish DNA from his father and his mother, but it's likely that his 5% Middle Eastern DNA and 3% European DNA came from his mother.

Son's DNA

Please remember that these are estimates, and are for fun. Because my in-laws' ancestors have been in this country for only one or two generations and Jewish family trees have a lot of endogamy (a lot of marrying within the same group of ancestors), there are tons of matches at FamilyTreeDNA for all three of these family members. Even though my father-in-law and my mother-in-law are not related (at least not within recent generations), they often show the same matches of others who have tested at FamilyTreeDNA and have a lot of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

I thank my husband and his parents for scraping the insides of their cheeks for me and I am hoping that more family members will consider taking an autosomal DNA test because there is more to learn than our ethnic makeup. I hope to share more about DNA results in a future blog post.