The primary benefit of the Family Finder autosomal DNA test is that it looks for blocks of DNA that people share. As the number and size of these shared blocks increase, the more likely it is that the two people are closely related. When you take the Family Finder test, you are provided with a list of the people that share DNA segments with you, along with information on how much DNA you have in common and an estimate of what degree of relationship might exist between you. Family Tree DNA also provides a chromosome browser that lets you see just where in the genome the shared blocks of DNA are to be found. People who have obtained autosomal DNA test results from some companies other that Family Tree DNA might be able to upload their results into the Family Tree DNA base... to do so, follow this link.
Family Tree DNA has a number of free webinars that provide more details about the Family Finder test and how to work with your results. There is also some helpful information on the ISOGG Wiki as well as blog postings such as this one by Roberta Estes. A good book to read is "The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy" by Blaine Bettinger.
In addition to the genealogical applications of the Family Finder test, it also provides people with an estimation of their ancestral origins. For instance, it might estimate that somebody's DNA is about about 95% European and 5% Native American in origin. Note, however, that it is not yet possible to use DNA to identify specific tribes that might be in a person's ancestry (such as Beothuk, Mi'kmaq, etc.). Also note that if a person has a low amount of native DNA (such as below 2%) then it might not be detected.
Some other things to note about the Family Finder test are:
- The Family Finder test can be done by both men and women
- It can detect DNA segments from any of your ancestral lines (not just the direct male and direct female lines)
- It works best at detecting shared DNA segments between people whose relationship is that of third cousin or closer (more distant relationships can also sometimes be detected, but with lower probability)
- Different family members might have inherited different DNA segments and so it can be helpful to test several family members
- Testing the most elderly members of a family is a good idea
Below are some links to some useful resources and websites:
• FTDNA Webinars
• Newfoundland and Labrador mtDNA Project
• International Society of Genetic Genealogy
• Family History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador
• Newfoundland and Labrador GenWeb
• Newfoundland's Grand Banks Genealogy Site
• NFLD-ROOTS mailing list
• Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador