All posts by Charles McKnight

Ancestry DNA family finder test kit

Five Things You Should Know Before Buying a DNA Genetic Testing Kit

DNA genetic tests are all the range these days. But don’t get one without knowing exactly what you are getting into. These powerful ancestry-tracing tools and enormous family finder databases can have unexpected results; some good, some not so much.

Before you get a DNA test from 23andMe, Family Tree DNA or any of the other genetic testing companies here are five things you should know.

1. It Could Break Your Family

Most people get a DNA test out of simple curiosity.

They want to find out their ancestry and see if they have some second or third cousins out … Read the rest >>

AncestryDNA, 23andMe and FTDNA use centimorgans to compare DNA matches

What Are centiMorgans and How Do You Use Them to Find DNA Matches?

When you get an autosomal DNA test whether from AncestryDNA, 23andMe or Family Tree DNA, you can use the results to find possible DNA matches.

All genealogical DNA testing services use centiMorgans to estimate (emphasis on ‘estimate’) how close you are with someone else. Depending on the number of centiMorgans across your shared DNA segments they could be close family members such as a parent or grandparent or a relative further away such as a second cousin.

So what exactly is a centiMorgan (abbreviated as cM) and how do you use it to find and analyze DNA matches.


Older fathers pass on more mutations & a 23andMe health review will not show these potential mutations

Why Men Should Father Children Earlier to Avoid Passing on Genetic Mutations

When is the best time to have kids?

For many people it depends on a wide variety of factors including career trajectory, health and culture. But science generally recommends doing it earlier.

For women fertility is obviously a major reason for doing it when younger. There is also the increased risk of complications like ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth and miscarriage.

But it’s not just women who should be worried about getting kids later in life. Men too have a ticking biological clock.

Scientists already know that older fathers have a higher risk of bearing children with psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, … Read the rest >>

Who are the genetic Adam and Eve - can't be traced via Family Tree DNA

Tracing Human Geneology: Who Are The Genetic Adam and Eve?

Genealogy testing services like Family Tree DNA and AncestryDNA can only get you so far into the past. Autosomal DNA testing for instance, the most popular type of DNA test, can only trace your ancestry up to your second cousins.

To study the human lineage much father back tens of thousands of years ago researchers have had to use more advanced methods like genome sequencing and restriction mapping.

In 1987 they struck gold.

They analyzed the mitochondrial DNA of 147 people drawn from five different populations around the world.

Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from mother to son and … Read the rest >>

AncestryDNA Review ancestry dna test

Which DNA Test is Better? AncestryDNA vs. FamilyTree DNA

Are you trying to decide between AncestryDNA and Family Tree DNA for a family genealogy project?

You’ve come to the right place.

AncestryDNA and Family Finder by FTDNA are the two most popular genealogical testing services for people researching their family history.

Unlike 23andMe, which offers both health and genealogical analysis, AncestryDNA and FTDNA focus solely on ancestry DNA testing.

In this in-depth comparison, I’ll compare AncestryDNA vs. Family Tree DNA on the following features and capabilities:

  • Ethnicity Reporting
  • Maternal and Paternal Lineage
  • Finding & Contacting Relatives
  • Data Export
  • Data Import
  • Data Privacy
  • Price

This comparison should take you … Read the rest >>

What is the best DNA test and other DNA geneology FAQs

Common Questions on DNA Genealogy Testing (FAQs for Beginners)

What is the best DNA test? What will a genealogy DNA test tell me? Can I find my relatives using a DNA test? Here are quick answers to common questions on DNA genealogy tests for those who want to trace their ancestry and find family matches.

Click on the + sign to expand an answer.

Can a DNA test help me discover my ethnicity?
Read the rest >>
Genetic privacy on and other sites

An Online DNA Database Helped Capture the Golden State Killer. Should You Be Worried About the Privacy of your DNA Data?

A decades-long search for the Golden State killer finally led to the arrest of a suspect with the help of an online DNA database. But it raises many questions on how much privacy we are giving up when we use genealogical DNA testing websites like and AncestryDNA.

Police suspect he has raped more than 50 people and killed at least 12. Dozens of bulgaries have also been linked to him. But for over four decades, Joseph James DeAngelo also known as the Golden State Killer, managed to elude investigators.

A break in the case came when one of the … Read the rest >>

Best best dna test y-dna vs. mtDNA vs. autosomal DNA

What’s The Difference? Y-DNA vs. mtDNA vs. Autosomal DNA Explained (+ Tips for Choosing the Right One)

One of the most important things to check when looking for a good DNA ancestry testing service is the type of DNA they actually test.  It makes a huge difference in the type and accuracy of information you can learn from the test.

There are 3 basic types of DNA tested by ancestry DNA tests today:

  1. paternal DNA (Y-DNA)
  2. maternal DNA (mtDNA) and,
  3. autosomal DNA (atDNA)

The right DNA test for you depends on the kind of information you want to glean from your test.

Let’s look at each type of test in a more detail – and the … Read the rest >>

23andme or ancestrydna

Which is Better: 23andme or AncestryDNA?

Are you trying to decide between 23andMe and AncestryDNA?

You’ve come to the right place.

These are definitely the two most popular ancestry DNA tests in the US, right now.

In this in-depth comparison, I’ll compare 23andMe vs. AncestryDNA on the following features important to any family genealogist:

  • Ethnicity Reporting
  • Maternal and Paternal Lineage
  • Finding & Contacting Relatives
  • Data Export
  • Health Screening
  • Data Privacy
  • Price

This page takes about 5-8 minutes to read.

So let’s dive in!

(Note: To see how these 2 tests compare against FamilyTreeDNA, see my three-way comparison.)

Quick Comparison: 23andMe vs.AncestryDNA

Read the rest >>
Find An Ancestor

How to Find Your Ancestors in the U.S Census: A Step-By-Step Guide

Do you want to research your family history using US census records – but don’t where to start?

You’ve come to the right place.

If you are an American researching your ancestral roots, then the US census is the first place to check.

Running from 1790 and collected every ten years, these exhaustive records are some of the richest sources of genealogical data.

They can be especially fruitful when you combine them with other ancestry research methods such as historical documents, city directories, and genealogical DNA testing.

But finding the information you are looking for is not a … Read the rest >>