02 July 2019

There Are No Ready-made Family Trees

Tell me. What did you expect to get for the price of a DNA test?

When you ordered a DNA kit, did you expect a full-blown family tree? Were you disappointed to find a DNA-match list of people you don't know?

The marketing hype can make you think it's super-easy and quick. It is not.

Your DNA test is a tool that may connect you to relatives who've already worked on their part of the family tree. But there's no getting around it. There is work involved.

So ask yourself this question:

Do I want to experience the adventure of finding documents, piecing together my ancestors, and building my family tree? Or do I want a finished product handed to me?

If you expected more than this from your DNA kit, I've got a surprise for you.
If you expected more than this from your DNA kit, I've got a surprise for you.

If you're up for the adventure, you'll be part of an enormous community of fellow seekers. Amateur genealogists enjoy the thrill of discovery each time they climb up another generation in their family tree.

But if you want the finished product, it's going to cost you more than the price of a DNA test. A genealogist can use your DNA test and a good amount of basic information to build your family tree for money.

For the past 2½ years, I've used this blog to give you the tools you need for this adventure called genealogy. For free.

bookmark this page for later
If you're open to learning, to expanding your mind and your research skills, family tree-building is right for you. Here are some of the basic challenges you'll meet on this adventure. Have a look at the links below, and load up your toolkit for the journey of your life.

Organization Skills and Principles

You're going to accumulate a lot of document images in a hurry. Keep these organization methods in mind, and you won't wind up buried in a pile of your own research.
Software and Other Tools

You'll need to decide which family tree building software to use. I have always used Family Tree Maker and have absolutely no reason to consider any other program.

But there are some other tools and lots of websites you should explore.
Finding and Understanding Documents

These titles explain themselves. Read these articles to understand what you want to get out of each type of genealogy document.
Foreign Languages and Handwriting

If you're working with foreign documents or just old documents, the handwriting will seem impossible to you at first. It does get easier! I'm so used to reading Italian documents from the 1800s, it's easy as can be.
DNA Tools

There's a lot more to DNA than your list of DNA matches.
Now that you've seen a bit of what's involved, it's decision time.

Do you want to join in the fun and the thrill of the genealogy hunt? Do you want to hire someone to do it for you? Or are you satisfied with your ethnicity pie chart?


  1. DiAnn, I wish I'd had this page - FULL OF HELP and GOOD ADVICE, when I first started Genealogy. Jiminy, you're good. Thanks for your very generous articles.

    1. LOL and thank you! It's never too late to made good genealogy habits.

  2. Great advice here. I’ve bookmarked it for later. I’m constantly surprised at how much some people expect from their DNA test.