Are you getting the most out of DNA results?

Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr., P.O. Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or gagensociety.org.

DNA testing for genealogy purposes is considered a must by professional genealogists, just one more part of the research spectrum.

For those who have tested either with familytreedna.com, ancestry.com, or 23andme.com, are you getting the most out of your results?

No matter which test, you need to avail yourself of their options. Always add ancestral family names and locations into your profile. Family trees work better on Ancestry, but you can add one on FamilyTree. It’s best to reply to people who contact you or for you to contact your higher matches, since such matches can usually help with your research.

The tests are more than your ethnic makeup. If that is why you took the test, realize that others took them for much more and still need to hear from you.

Surnames change over time, either through translation, adoption — or they go so far back that two brothers may have had different surnames at the time names were “handed out,” so to speak.

Surnames may have come from occupations, nearby land features, the father’s first name and personal characteristics, all of which could have gone through lots of changes over the past 700 years.

Bottom line: If you do DNA testing, participate in the results and communicate with those who are high matches with you.

A recent guide, “Genetic Genealogy Basics,” by national expert Angie Bush, has been published in the Genealogy-at-a-Glance series. This four-page, laminated fact sheet provides information on the major tests, the companies and understanding the results. One of her major points: Educate yourself via blogs, books and seminars about DNA.

The publication is $8.95 plus $4.50 postage from Genealogical Publishing Co., 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211 or genealogical.com or 1-800-296-6687.

Vision of Britain

To learn lots about British history, see A Vision of Britain Through Time at visionofbritain.org.uk. It contains a wealth of background information valuable to genealogists and historians.

Courthouse records

While the major records at a county courthouse may be on microfilm or digitized online, don’t forget that loose estate packets (loose papers) still could be maintained there. You would need to visit the courthouse to see them.