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March 3, 2009

DNA Genealogy - Choosing DNA Groups to Join

When my husband and I sent for our Y-DNA Kits from and Family Tree DNA, we knew we had to choose DNA groups to join.

My Y-DNA kit was to be taken by my brother so that we could find out about our McGinnis male ancestors, while my husband's was for himself for his Massey male lineage.

So what groups should we join? The obvious choice seemed to be a surname group - McGinnis for me, Massey for my husband. But the Surname Project for McGinnis on FamilyTreeDNA only had 22 members and the description stated it was for "McGinnis from No. Ireland (Ulster)who settled in America. This project was started by testing two men whose ancestors came from Ulster to Eastern Pennsylvania before the Revolutionary War .."

That didn't fit what I wanted. My McGinnis ancestors were Catholics from Northern Ireland but they settled in Canada during the Famine Years (1840s). So after some thought and further research into what was available, I opted to join Ireland Heritage My McGinnis surname was listed, and the group numbers were high. I felt there was more chance of a match with others who were related in this group.

My husband wanted to join the Massey Surname Group on but it only had one member. His decision was to join the Ireland Scotland Wales England British Isles Group which had 121 members.

We honestly had no idea how to make our choices, DNA testing was new to us both so we just decided that a criteria would be the numbers in the group, the geographic location the group was focused on had to match our known ancestral origins, and if possible, our surnames would be included in the group list.

So - our Groups were chosen, we had sent in our DNA sample kits and now we had time to do more reading in our struggle to understand what we would see when our results arrived.


Joshua Claybourn said...

I wouldn't be so hesitant to join the McGinnis group from No. Ireland (Ulster) who settled in America. There is of course a decent chance you are related, possibly branching away in the 1600s in the 1700s, and this is precisely what the DNA tests are good at discerning. They can usually tell with a good degree of certainty ranges in which two people's ancestors branched out.

Brian DeGraaf said...

e is no limit to how many groups you can join at You can also create as many groups as you want. You will have the option to manually import your McGinnis haplotype (marker values)from to and join the groups there.

Anonymous said...

I am looking into sending dna in to be tested, largely for genealogy purposes like yourself. Two seemingly high contenders are the Genographic Project and the service through Have you heard anything about the difference in quality? We know that ancestry allows you to trace through to potential relatives. However, I believe you can also transfer results from another source. With your experience, do you have any recommendations?