Which DNA test would be best?

+8 votes
My birth father has no idea about his history. I can only go as far back as his parents. Which DNA test could I get that might help me trace anything further back?
in The Tree House by Kirsty Ward G2G6 Mach 3 (36.8k points)
retagged by Keith Hathaway
Kirsty, I definitely recommend you get the autosomal DNA test.  If your mother is living and willing, you could get her to do one also.  That way, if someone matches you and not your mother, you'd know the match was up your father's side.

On another note, have you asked for help in tracing your paternal grandparents?  There are numerous people here on Wikitree that are very good genealogical sleuths and might be able to help you.  I certainly am willing to give it a go if you're interested.  You can either post on G2G or feel free to drop me a private message if you'd like some help.  If you have names and approximate birth and/or death dates & locations, that's all we need to give it a go!

Good luck, and let me/us know if we can assist.

5 Answers

+2 votes
Best answer
If you have your father take a Y chromosome dna test, you would be able to find your fathers paternal line. Such as his grandfather, great grandfather and so on. Males pass on their Y chromosome to their male offspring.


An autosomal test would show your dna relativity to anyone who would have taken the same test. It is pretty popular and will help you on both parents genealogy.


If you would like to see your fathers maternal line, have him take a mitochondrial cell dna test, as people only get their mitochondrial dna from their mothers.


If I were you, I would have him take an Autosomal dna test. Then you should have a fan of relations relevant to your father.
by Davian Pfeiff G2G6 (8.3k points)
selected by Peter Roberts

Thanks for your answer. I can't get him to do a test.

So it sounds like my best bet is to get a autosomal and a Y chromosome dna test?

I am dying to learn more about that side, but really struggling, as I know nothing about where they come from, or anything.

Hi Kirsty, If you can't get your father to do a yDNA test, do you have a brother, or a male cousin with your father's surname? Either one of those could take a yDNA test that might help you find more information about your father's male line. Only males inherit yDNA so you can't take a yDNA test yourself. Davian's suggestion of taking an auDNA test is interesting, but if you don't have a paper trail, finding out that someone is likely to be your 3rd, 4th or 5th cousin isn't really likely to help you much. And mtDNA is only rarely useful for genealogy. It's possible you might learn something about your father's deep maternal ancestry, but mtDNA changes so infrequently that you may only find out something like his mother's mother's mother, etc. came from western Europe. If you change your privacy level on WikiTree from 'private' to 'private with a public family tree' we might be able to see better what you're up against in finding more about your father's ancestry. And someone on WikiTree might be able to help you search in some other way than using DNA.

Hi Kristy, I agree with Kay.  My autosomal DNA test will give me cousin matches anywhere in this list of Surnames:  http://www.wikitree.com/treewidget/Cooper-1/10.  Your list of surnames will be the same except with Livingstone-154 instead of Cooper-1.  

Without a knowledge of your own family tree, it would be very difficult to figure out he cousin connections.  It can't hurt to do an autosomal DNA test, but it will be difficult to find cousin connections on your dad's lines.  

I hope you can find a male cousin or talk your dad into the yDNA test because that will give you matches on his paternal line.  Make sure he knows that he can be totally anonymous with a FamilyTreeDNA test.  Once you purchase the test, his results will be by kit number and his name does not have to be used at all.  Hope this helps.  

+2 votes

What country do you guess you have your roots in? I assume you have some indications....

Ancestry is most US people ==> you get US matches ;-) They opened up for people from e.g. Sweden to test last month ==> nearly no one has tested using Ancestry from Sweden....

In Sweden 99% of the people doing the autosomal Family Finder us FTDNA and just a few upload to gedmatch....

by Living Sälgö G2G6 Pilot (301k points)
+2 votes
1) I always encourage people to do the autosomal test, it is cheaper and you get many more matches usually, and at FTDNA because the people there answer emails more readily in my experience. So its cheaper, you get matches and talking matches which I think or the most important. Sometimes you hit the lottery and get a close match and don't need to go any farther. 2) Upload results to gedmath. It's easier than ever and the price is right. Sometimes after that, you have the information you want. 3)After that, depending on which relative you are looking for, i upgrade to y-dna or mt-dna and the reason is, you can cross-refernce cousin plus mother or father line and see which side some of your matches are on.

As an example, I had a bunch of cousins i hadn't a clue who teh hhh they were. I upgraded my autosomal with mt-dna, then ran them combined and two or three of my autosomals turned up ALSO on mt-dna list and I figured out pretty quickly who two of them were. It was worth the money. though it doesn't happen often. It's best to get a parent or one of their relatives to test as you can triangulate better using ICW feature.

Sorry this was so long. Whatever you do, good luck.
by Glenda Gustin G2G1 (1.0k points)
+3 votes
IMO, out of the 3 types of tests auDNA, yDNA, and mtDNA, the best test you should take is autosomal for yourself.  

Given you are looking for your father's history, I presume you are interested in all lines, including your grandmothers. auDNA is the only real option for this.

All DNA tests are useful to some degree, but if you get a male relative agree to a yDNA test, you would still need to or at least should confirm your DNA connection to that person.   

auDNA is like a season ticket to the lottery. You can't win unless you purchase a ticket. There are new subscribers every week.

It is true that you will probably find many relatives that might not be that close, but who knows, you might get lucky and find someone who is close enough. auDNA has been successful in many cases of adoptees finding parents, so I don't see why finding great grandparents is much different.

When choosing an auDNA test, I might go for AncesteryDNA. They will probably be the fastest growing database where you live, and also, based on what I have been reading, has the best turnaround time. It will give you some idea of what to expect.  You will have to upload your raw DNA to www.gedmatch.com and/or transfer the Raw Data to FTDNA to get the maximum benefit.

You don't mention your mother.   If testing her is a possibility, I would order a kit for her or another willing relative.
by Ken Sargent G2G6 Mach 6 (62.7k points)
+1 vote
If you want to find out information about the Ward surname (assuming that is your father's surname), then you want the Y-DNA test. If your father won't test find a close male relative with the same surname and test them. Sometimes an offer to split the cost or even pay for the whole thing will entice someone to volunteer.

If you want information about your father's entire genetic lineage, do the autosomal test yourself and try to convince cousins from your paternal side of the family to test . . . the more the merrier. Compare the matches you share with one another and you should be able to piece together a nice genetic tree.
by John Beardsley G2G6 Mach 4 (45.0k points)
My birth father left the day I was born. I don't know him (met him once when I was 25), or any relatives at all on his side. So I need to do something that doesn't involve him at all.
Do the autosomal test yourself and your mother (or a close relative of her), upload the raw data to GEDMatch and phase the two tests. This will allow you to differentiate the autosomal DNA you inherited from your father. Use the phased result to try and identify close matches to what you got from him. In theory you should be able to find at least some information about his side of your tree.

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