helix graphicI’ve always made it a policy to reply to every e-mail or information request that I receive.  The good news is that my blogs have become very popular.  The bad news is that I now receive literally hundreds of e-mails and inquiries every day, many asking questions or for advice, and I just can’t keep up anymore.  So, I’ve assembled this information which provides direction for most of the types of inquiries I receive.

First, let me tell you what I do and don’t do, and provide some guidance for you to find the resources you need.

I am not a DNA testing company and I don’t do DNA testing. There are no free DNA tests unless a private individual wishes to pay for your test for genealogical reasons. Consumers must pay the testing companies for the testing service.

I no longer accept personal clients.

I have written several articles to help you and you can find them right here!

My Blog

This blog is free and fully searchable by key word and there are more than 1400 articles available. Just enter the word or words you might be looking for and you will receive a list of relevant articles.

The search box is in the upper right portion of the screen.

The Different Kinds of DNA Tests

There are different tests for genetic genealogy. I’ve explained the differences here:

DNA Testing Companies

Some companies are more reputable than others and some are outright scams.

If you are considering ordering a DNA test from either Ancestry or 23andMe, be sure you understand that both of those companies sell your DNA – and you authorize them to do so when you sign to order your kit. Make sure you understand what you are authorizing. Read this:

And this:

If you’re looking for a DNA testing company, I recommend Family Tree DNA at this link. They are the only DNA testing company that offers all of the different types of genetic genealogy tests and they do not sell or otherwise disclose your DNA.

Which Test is Best?

I’ve written two articles that compare the various tests and the vendors providing different types of test:

Which DNA Test is Best? here:

Which Ethnicity Test is Best? here:

For Beginners

Kelly Wheaton provides a great series for beginners at:

Adoptees and Parent Search

First, check the help link which includes adoptee and parent-search information.

I’ve answered the most common questions there.

All adoptees and people searching for a birth parent or missing grandparent should visit and utilize their methodologies.

Native American Heritage

If you are searching for your Native American heritage or your tribe, read these two articles:

This article provides a summary of many Native resources:

My blog, Native Heritage Project is fully searchable.

The Native American Ancestry Explorer group for Native American or minority DNA questions is at:

African American

Confirming Enslaved Ancestors Utilizing DNA webinar by Melvin Collier through Legacy Family Tree Webinars – available to watch anytime.


If you are looking for Melungeon information, read this paper:

Ethnicity in General

If you are looking for your ethnicity, read this:

If you are trying to understand your ethnicity results, read this:

Assistance with Autosomal DNA

If you are trying to figure out what to do, and how, with autosomal DNA results, read these two articles:

If you are looking for someone to walk you through “what to do” with autosomal DNA, you can take a “how to” class.

If you are looking for someone to personally walk you through your DNA results, Diahan Southard provides that service online through her firm and you can contact her at

If you are looking for someone to help you work through your autosomal DNA results and associated genealogy, Jennifer Zinck provides that type of combined service. You can contact her at

Both Diahan and Jennifer provide a “tutoring” service.

There are two Facebook groups where you can ask questions as well. The ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy) group for general DNA questions is at:

DNA Newbie at

Professional Genetic Genealogical Services

I have made a referral arrangement with Legacy Tree, a company offering professional genealogical research services. Their staff includes an exceptional genetic genealogist, Paul Woodbury. Paul is both a certified genealogist as well as a genetic genealogist and he is excellent. Legacy Tree has offered a $50 introductory coupon if you mention my name (Roberta Estes), which assures that my genetic genealogy clients are directed to Paul. To take advantage of this offer or to receive a quote from Legacy Tree, click here.

For other genealogical assistance, please visit

Online and Social Media Resources

Facebook Genetic Genealogy Tips and Techniques group:

The original genetic genealogy list:

The DNA Newbie group:

FaceBook has an ISOGG group.

Other mailing lists:

Books and Education

Kelly Wheaton provides 19 free lessons in her Beginners Guide to Genetic Genealogy at:

Other Blogs

Affiliate Links

Last, if you are going purchase anything from the following entities, will you please do me the favor of clicking through the following affiliate links when you purchase. It doesn’t cost you any more, but I receive a small commission which helps fund free educational initiatives in the DNA community, such as this informational page and hundreds of free articles on the DNA-explained blog.

Thank you so much and best of luck on your DNA journey. I hope you unlock the mystery of your ancestors!

Roberta Estes

286 thoughts on “Help

  1. Hello Roberta,

    I know I am not alone but my issue is not that common either. I tried finding articles pertaining to this but the closest I got was with mention of Undocumented Orphans. My father was an orphan so therefore I have no clue as to my grandfather’s surname.
    I tried checking to see if there was some record and while my grandmother, who I take my Harris name from never married this is where the difficulty lies.

    I did my Y-DNA via FTDNA and I am getting tons of Exact Matches at the 12 and at the 25 marker levels. Am I wasting my time and money even attempting to find this mystery grand-dad? I have a good idea this is where I am getting more of my Irish ancestry from since my mother has nowhere near the Irish in her, as I did her DNA via Ancestry. At any rate, one thing that I do not get is how can I come up with literally hundreds of exact matches although, of course, none at the 37 marker level. So at the 25 marker level they say that we go back 13 generations or 325 years. If the surname stays the same how can I have all of these different surnames. It’s bad enough I don’t know what surname I am looking for.

    So this is really a two-part question in that how should I go about trying to solve this (would it be best to somehow concentrate on a possible adoption record) or is there a way with Y-DNA that I can fairly expect to find something – I have no name and most others do.

    I am aware that FTDNA would not, even if they could, give me a surname on a plate but I am still trying to make sense of having oodles of Exact Matches when there are so many different surnames, albeit Irish.

    I appreciate your weighing in on this when you get the chance.

    Thank you so much,

    Paul Harris

    • I recommend that you contact They teach search techniques for what you need. They also have volunteers to help.

      • To whom it may concern,how can I find information about my ancestry… I am from Sioux Indian heritage,and I am distant relative from Chief Sitting Bull. How do I get the proper kit to test my bloodline….also how do I connect with getting the results from back pay,going back to school and other things that I can get from the Goverment once the test is completed. Thank You!

  2. sent my dna in 6 weeks ago. no reply. i spent hours putting in my access numbers. no success. i did this before for my husband. no problem. annmarie . please reply. please

  3. Hi, thanks for all the info. It’s very interesting. I was trying to do the quick consult but the link appears to be broken. I’m trying to determine full or half siblings from this DNA comparison from My Heritage.

    Is this definitely full sibling?

    Estimated relationship
    DNA Match quality?
    36.1% (2,556.7‎ cM)
    Shared DNA
    Shared segments
    181‎ cM
    Largest segment

    How much do you charge for quick consult?



  4. Help! Your site is spamming the he$$ out of my mailbox! I’m all of a sudden getting notification after notification of new mail from your site. In the past 10 minutes Ive probably received 50 or so emails from you site…..and some of these are posts that are 4 years old! Something is wrong, please fix and stop the insanity!

  5. Dear Roberta, I’m receiving several emails per minute from you, starting at 9.12 pm PDT. Many of the emails are past episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? Has your site been infected and having emails sent without your doing so?

  6. Hi Roberta,
    I would like to buy a quick consultation regarding my Y-DNA and the Estes surname project. From your store information I do not see how I can order the quick consult and enter the information that I need to send you. Thanks for your help.

    • I’m notified through the store when a purchase is made. I will e-mail you asking how I can help you.

  7. Hello… I have three queries I hope DNA will help me to uncover:
    my maternal 3rd grade grandmother’s mother, who is she?
    then I hope to find out re: my native ancestry thru this my maternal line,
    thru my paternal line, which test should a brother take, to find show of our native lines there.
    Lastly, I very much want to find a half sister, one borne from my father and mother unknown. Before he married my Mama.
    Which tests do you suggest? I am ready..
    Thank you.. and a very well presented paper..

  8. Hi

    I have a huge problem in my tree in that my gg grandfather simply showed up at his wedding in 1805 and managed to leave exactly no documentation of his past. Even professional researchers have not been able to find anything. The last researchers are the people who do the research for the TV shows like Who Do You Think You Are?

    Thus, I have turned to Lazarus.

    To start off, and see what I might end up with, I used my kit, my siblings kits and the kit of my paternal 1st cousin. Got a new kit as a result. It is marked as “research” and is not supposed to be visible to the public.

    So, using that new kit of my grandfather I ran a one against many search and surprise…none of the kits that I used to generate it came up as a match. But then, when I ran 1 to 1 matches, matches they all came up with extensive runs of matching DNA. The colored line below the SNPs on each chromosome was there showing significant matching.

    When I started looking at the matches for that franken grandfathers kit in the one against many things got a bit interesting.

    1. There are, at least so far, no colored lines below the SNPs part of the chromosome matching results. It is the black, no significant match color.

    2. But, when you look at the upper part of the display of each chromosome there are runs of lavender. That shows matches in the SNPs due to phasing.

    So, can you (or have you) publish something explaining how to use and what to do with the results of Lazarus and phasing? Might be a big help, at least for me.

    Bill Dalton

  9. question not sure where to ask.
    My father in law passed away 5 days ago the hospital swabbed him for dna testing three ways the day he passed. i was told to store in veg bin in frig in their sealed containers. can you process those still if at all?

  10. When FTDNA upgraded its family tree feature in November, for some weeks I was unable to access any tree other than my own. I’d click on a match’s tree, and the screen would bring up my own tree. That problem was remedied after some weeks.

    Two problems persist.

    I cannot get the search feature to work on any of my matches’ family trees. I first reported this problem in December and it remains ongoing. I have tried the feature on a number of different accounts I manage, on a number of different IT systems, on a number of different browsers. The university IT wizards were pretty sure that the university filters were not blocking anything. When I open a family tree, put in a search term from the tree in the search box and click, it opens a grey box with a blue circle; when the circle stops the box turns white, empty of any search results.

    In the new chromosome browser configuration, the star at the upper-left-hand corner is supposed to open a match list, so that one can add names to those already chosen. Clicking it for me simply refreshes the page already there. The tech team at FTDNA said they cannot replicate this problem. It too persists regardless of computer system, browser, or account.

    I’m writing to see whether other people are experiencing these glitches, or whether it’s only me. The tech replies have suggested that the star glitch is indeed mine. They cannot replicate it. Yet they have been silent about the search glitch.

    Are you able to search your matches family trees? Or use the star feature inside the chromosome browser?

    Many thanks for your help, and best wishes to you.


    • I cannot search the trees. However, on the chromosome browser, I don’t see a star. I have an orange button that says “Update selected matches” if I click on matches, and then push one through to the chromosome browser. If I just click on the chromosome browser from the menu page, I’m showing on the left, and my matches are all showing on the right. I can select from a dropdown to limit them to match types. No star anyplace. I’m on a PC, not a MAC. I would suggest taking screen shots so they can see what you are doing. And I presume you’ve already done the clear the browser cache and cookies, both, right?

      • Thanks, Roberta. I really appreciate your help.

        Yesterday, after asking at intervals for two months why the feature was not working, and just after writing you, I was told that the new search feature is case sensitive. The old one was not, and I was not searching in a case sensitive way. When I did use the search feature with case sensitivity, it took a long time but the search feature on the family trees did work. As to the star, my memory served me ill. It was the arrow (not the star) at the upper left hand corner. Neither the arrow nor the orange button bring up the match list. Either simply refreshes the current page. If I have selected a match, find out whom they match, click on six of those matches, I then have to reset, find the first individual again, click, and then access the chromosome browser.


  11. Great article!! “Optimizing Your Tree at Ancestry for More Hints & DNA ThruLines”. I love the detail you outline and learning other strategies. My primary trees are and Family Tree Maker (that are synced); but I also have MyHeritage and other Tree/DNA accounts that I only have time to upload family tree .ged files to. Duplicating the time I spend on Ancestry/FTM (pics, docs, etc..) with say a MyHeritage tree would be impossible. Have you by chance written anything about managing desktop and on-line tree strategies, syncing, DNA technology, etc.. Just tying it all together… Thanks for all your quality Blogs, Steve

        • I do, daily, but the problem is when you discover much later that something was happening that you weren’t aware of and you’ve made many changes since then.

  12. I am an adopted child. Through Ancestry DNA test I identified my birth mother and half siblings on the maternal side. Through lots of secondary evidence (adoption records, etc.), I have identified the man who is in all likelihood my biological father, although my mother died with naming him. However, the two women who should be my half sisters only appear as 1-2nd cousins. I have been in touch with one of them. Every bit of information we shared points to us having a common father. So is the DNA test inaccurate or is there a missing link somewhere? Thanks for your help.

    • There’s no way I can answer this question without doing an actual consult and working with results.

  13. Hello, I have done two DNA tests, one was from,the National Geographic Helix Project and my maternal Haplock group came back U5A1A1 which from what I,researched, originated from the Canary Islands and comes from the Bloodline of Ursula, one of the 7 Daughters of EVE. The one I did on Ancestry shows up the Estes Coat of Arms. My great grandparents include Mary Campbel, Mary and Samuel Asenith Hand, The Home Family, Mary Magdalene, the Tucker Family, the Wacher from Gibraltar in 1945, Agnes Sheppard-Full Blooded Creek Indian, Archibald Carmichael, etc, I’ve been told my real name is Olivia Wilde Cleverl and that a lady named Abigail was my real mother with my uncle being Oliver and my a grandmother named Althea. I,am searching for the truth in,regards to my real history, and any information you can help me with will be greatly appreciated. .

  14. I am very grateful to find the article “Y DNA: Part 2 – The Dictionary of DNA”. This is the first article I’ve found that gives an analysis of core concepts.
    The article is found at .
    I would like to ask some detailed questions on the article. What is a good address to send these questions to?

    • I do provide a Quick Consulting service. You can purchase a quick consult which provides you with up to an hour of my time in the store on the web page.

  15. Hi, I tried to get into and it won’t accept my password and won’t send me a reset link.

  16. Hello. I asked you because you are named as the project administrator of B Haplogroup mtDNA, which I am participating in.
    I was tested for Y chromosome type and mitochondrial DNA by Geno 2.0. However, the STR does not seem to be analyzed, and the tree on which other DNA types are carried is not displayed. I was told that I could just talk to the person in charge of the Y chromosome project and leave it as it is, but if I have the opportunity to go back as far as I can to get more information about my ancestors, I am thinking of including the purchase of mtfull of FTDNA. What should I do best?

    • I’m not sure what you mean by the tree on which other DNA types are carried. What I can tell you is that the mitochondrial full sequence test is the most comprehensive mtDNA test possible. Additionally, you’ll match others. There is a public Y and mtDNA tree both available.

      • Thank you for your reply. I understand that mtfull is the most comprehensive.
        By the way, is it applicable as a means to confirm whether mitochondrial DNA is common to distant relatives such as the URL below?
        Some of my 6-10 generations old female ancestors couldn’t tell whether they were one of their ancestors’mothers or stepmothers, or even looking at administrative materials, looking for the descendants of one of their ancestors’ sisters I want to make sure. Is mtfull useful in such cases?

        • I did exactly that to determine which one of my ancestor’s wives was the mother of my ancestor. You have to test descendants of both known lines though.

          • Thank you for your comment. You were doing exactly what I was thinking. If mtfull can find out the most ancestors, I would like to do a DNA test with it. It will take some time to find that distant relative because the surname has changed from generation to generation, but if the other person is interested, I will talk about it.

  17. Roberta, you just tried to answer my question on Legacy Family Tree Webinars (about why MyHeritage would show my possible Native American ethnicity in 1700s Virginia as 1% Andean and Mesoamerican) but Marian read it as “Indian.” Would this be because MyHeritage has a reference population for South American Native American but not North American Native American? Thanks very much for your help.

    • Hi Kathryn. I really don’t know why. They have access to some public reference populations, but they probably don’t have as many in their own database. Every vendor creates their own algorithms too.

      • Thanks so much, Roberta. I checked today, and MyHeritage does show a North American Native American ethnicity as distinct from Andean and Meso-American, but I still am puzzling over how I could have 1% Andean/Meso-American with absolutely no knowledge of it. My tree is pretty solid on most lines back into the 1700s and some back into the 1600s.

        I did see that 23andMe is adding new Native American sub-groups (though not any Eastern tribes are included). Since they hadn’t already given me any broad Native American (only 1% Turkish and Near Eastern instead!), I wouldn’t be included even if they had added any Eastern tribes.

        Thanks again so much for replying here, even though I realize you really can’t spend all your time now doing this for all of us. You are really a dear!

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