I am getting ready for my Ancestry DNA test by learning more and preparing a few helps I have found while researching this.
I highly recommend that you watch this video by Crista Cowen called “The Search for Biological Family“. It is FULL of really useful information.
For example: I really appreciate how she instructs us to connect our DNA test to a family tree and specifically the “right” family tree. I have my adopted family (even a lot of the family of my first “legal” father… as well as an extensive amount of my daughter’s biological father’s family) on my family tree. On my “official” tree, I was very clear about marking my other two fathers in ways to accurately reflect reality. They are technically not my direct line.
She also goes into why it’s really important to have your test linked to a tree (even if it is just you and your two unknown parents) and how to do that properly. The biggy here is that if you don’t have it actually attached it will show that you don’t have a family tree and many will just skip your possible match up…. at least until they are desperate.
I have re-created a couple of her forms to share with you, too.
The first one is my re-creation of her Common Ancestors chart. I looked online but couldn’t find the one by her, so here is my version. I also added a short blurb about how/why to use it. This can be useful in genealogy even without doing your DNA, but it can really help you narrow it down and focus when exploring your DNA matches.
I have also re-created a PDF version of a basic Surname List Chart like Crista Cowen talks about in her video. I didn’t extend it out all the way to include ALL of the surnames. I stopped at 46 surnames due to coming to the end of a page and assuming you don’t know all the rest of the 64 to 2048+ surnames in your direct line (up to your 9th great-grandparents).
Here is a Surname List Chart as a Google Docs Spreadsheet. You can download and edit it for yourself (including adding lines for more surnames). I changed the format of the form so you don’t have to keep reminding others (or even yourself) that it is cumulative.
You add the unique surnames that show up in each generation of your family tree in the proper column and then continue that surname through all of the generations from then on. To easily enter the surname multiple times to include in each generation after it appears, I just copied (ctrl C) and then tabbed over one and pasted (ctrl V)… and continued all the way through to the 8th generation.
Here is a current copy of my Surname List Chart. Remember that I don’t have over half of my direct line since I don’t even know my biological father’s name.
If you haven’t already read it, you can also check out the Beginning of My Ancestry DNA Journey.