In your family tree research you will eventually find that you have come to the end of the paper trail and there is insufficicent evidence to make that next definitive link. Fortunately your ancestry is documented in your DNA - so even when paper records fail, your deepest ancestor is still present in you - in your DNA. A DNA test can sometimes help to make a link to a particular family name if you find you share common DNA with people who have the same or similar surnames as each other. If you are lucky then you may get a match within a few generations and discover some Smith ancestors. Additionally, the modern DNA test can give you a breakdown of your ethnic mix - you may be surprised at the results!
There are a number of different type of DNA tests - which is right for you will depend on what you primarily want to discover and also whether you are male or female.
- Autosomal Test. This is a test which looks at the DNA inherited from the autosomal chromasomes. Humans have 22 pairs of autosomal chromasomes and either an X-chromosome (for a female) or a Y-chomosome (for a male). This kind of test can help you to find genetic matches and also what your origin makeup looks like.
- Y-chromosome Test. This test looks at the sex chromosome to determine a man's paternal line since this chromosome passes down virtually unaltered between father and son. The number of mutations between two samples can help identify the time frame in which the two individuals shared a common ancestor. For cultures where a surname is generally handed down from father to son, this would be a good test to explore the Smith family tree. Since the Y-chromosome is not passed from father to daughter it is not possible for a female to take this test (although they could ask their father or a brother to take the test for them).
- Mitochondrial Test. This test can be used to trace the maternal line. mtDNA is passed by the mother to both male and female children so both males and females are able to take this test. If a perfect match is found then you may find a common ancestor although, as mutations are very rare, this could be a long way back in time.
If you know someone researching their family tree, a DNA test could make a great Christmas or Birthday gift idea!
If you are looking for historical Smith family records then please visit our Smith Family Tree page.
Below we've listed some of the major providers of DNA test services for Ancestry Testing.
Have you reached a brick wall in your Smith Tree?
Search for Smith projects at www.familytreedna.com
Learn about your ancestral composition, find DNA matches and even learn about hereditary health conditions (if you want to know!) with a genetic report from 23andMe.com