How to get the most of your Smith YDNA Data

First, how does YDNA work? The Y-chromosome is passed from male to male to male. So your Smith grandfather would pass Y to his Smith son, your father, who would pass it on to you. As you see from this chart, females do not pass on Y to their sons or daughters (females do not have it). Therefore, the Smith YDNA test requires a male Smith who is known or believes himself to be a Smith descendant. A Smith female can find another male Smith in her line to test as a representative. Same thing for a male or female of a different surname. He or she would need to find a male Smith of that line to YDNA test.

For the Smith DNA Project (Official Smith DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA) we recommend that a YDNA tester get at least 25, better 37 markers, for comparison. We realize, however, that sometimes people start with 12; do plan that you will need to upgrade at some point in order to prove or refine matches. 12 markers can also be a good way to shorthand test a candidate match. The Smith DNA Project does not look for matched groupings on 12 markers unless there is a known sourced paper trail or known kinship with other testers.  You can see the list of matched groupings here

Once the test results come back, the volunteer Smith admins look for matches. We do that, first, by haplogroup (area of the world that your line originated in ancient times) and then by comparing markers. We compare markers by panels, ie, 1-12, 13-25, 26-37, 38-67, 68-111 and then use FTDNA’s formula to determine how related the match is. If we find that there is a solid group match, we either create a new grouping or add the tester to that group. We encourage all groups to have a group contact that we can send tree research questions to, as the volunteers cannot possibly be experts in anyone’s line to the extent that the member is.  The groupings are to compare your results, locations, etc with others who are known to be a related match to some extent. We also doublecheck matches on FamilyTreeDNA. 

How do you find a kit on the Smith DNA Project site? There are so many Smith/Schmidt/Smyth/Smythe/etc in the project that it would be tedious to either page through a lot of pages or have to eyeball one big slow-loading page. So we have it where you can look up the kit # and go right to that page for more information. Look for the Kit # Search or Search/Advanced/Search Kit # on most pages in the top menu ; on front page on the right hand side also.  On that Smith DNA kit page, there are links to the tree, the pedigree line (if the member has sent in that information), as well as the haplogroup, markers, a comparison utility, and, if the member has been group matched, a couple of links to group reports.

Some people do not yet have matches. What can be done? One of the first things you should consider is whether you have Smith kin that could test as well to establish a baseline. A second option is to search genealogy resources such as genealogy message boards, listed trees, etc to find another in your line. If you find that one of your contacts has tested YDNA but is not a member of the Smith DNA Project, please encourage them to join. If the person has done testing with a vendor other than FTDNA, he or she can still list markers on the site.  In other words, you can wait for someone to happen along that is a match or you can actively reach out for one. (That’s also where the inexpensive YDNA 12 marker kit can be useful).

How many markers should be done at the high end? If you do not yet have a match with anyone, our opinion is that your money and time would be better spent first finding another Smith in your line to test, so you can get a baseline to compare against. More markers without any match will not find a new one. If you match on 12 markers with a lot of people, you definitely need to upgrade to, preferably, 37 markers. Many times it can appear that someone is kin to another person but with more markers, the match falls apart because, generally, 12 markers can match a lot of people. On the other hand, 37-67 markers can show more specific relatedness.

If you have a question about any of this, please do not hesitate to ask us, the volunteer admins at the Smith Official DNA Project- info@smithsworldwide.org

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