My Ancestry DNA Journey: Part 1

Guys, I have exciting news.

I'm British.

ancestry dna ancestry dna results great britain european jewish

As a lifelong Anglophile, I am obsessed with this information and I fully intend to bring it up at every possible opportunity for the foreseeable future. I'm thinking it may explain why Adeline looks so much like Princess Charlotte.

princess charlotte look alike princess charlotte doppelganger

(A British friend recently reminded me that the royal family are actually German but I am choosing to ignore that information for the sake of this fantasy.) 

I asked for the Ancestry DNA kit for Mother's Day because I've always been interested in tracing my family lineage and, frankly, I was hoping for this kind of a fun reveal. 

In truth, there is a lot that we don't know about my mom's family history, for reasons that could fill an entirely different series of blog posts. But, in any event, I wanted to see what I could find out and, as it happens, the 18% of me that is British comes from her side. Her British ancestors migrated to Newfoundland in the 1700's and we have family there to this day. 

If anyone is still not familiar with how these DNA tests work, let me explain. 

You order the DNA collection kit. When it arrives, you follow the very simple instructions for collecting your DNA (basically, you spit into a tube) and you send it back. You'll have your results in 4-6 weeks. 

And, guys, the results are fascinating. In addition to a breakdown of your DNA, will connect you with other people who have submitted their DNA and to whom you are likely related. Based on the matches that I know myself to be related to (an uncle and a few cousins), I am guessing that it is very accurate. (More on this in an upcoming post as I reach out to and hear back from some of my potential matches!) 

What immediately grabbed me was the Family Tree tool, which you've probably seen in an commercial at one time or another. You enter the information that you have about your family members and then, as if by magic, these little green leaves pop up letting you know that there is more information available.

ancestry dna results family tree ancestry dna family tree

The information comes from a huge array of public records. Birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, draft records, that kind of thing. It all sounds very academic, very unemotional. But some of what I found took my breath away. 

1930 federal census atlantic city russia ancestry dna results

This is from the 1930 Federal Census. And that name highlighted in yellow? That's my Pop Pop. He was 4 years old when someone hand-wrote these seemingly mundane details about his family and his life. 

Have you ever stopped to think about your grandfather's life at 4 years old? I haven't, especially not now that he has been gone for nearly 10 years.

In a strange way, it brought him back to life for a moment. I haven't heard his voice in nearly 10 years but seeing these little details about his childhood made him so real for me in a way that I don't think he has been in some time. He wasn't just my Pop Pop. He was once a little boy, not much older than my daughter or younger than my son. He lived with his parents and his older brother in a home that was valued at $100 in 1930. I've always known these things (well, to be fair, I didn't know about the house, although that detail made me smile) but they have never felt so real to me as they did when I was looking at these records.

And it didn't end with my Pop Pop. I've found records with these little tidbits about my relatives all the way back to my Great Great Great Grandparents on my dad's mother's side. I never knew my paternal grandmother. She passed away when my dad was a teenager. Reading about her parents and grandparents, seeing when they got married, when they had children, reading the addresses where they lived - some of them on Philadelphia streets with which I am familiar - helped me to feel a connection to her that I have never felt before.

I asked for the DNA kit because I wanted to see if I might have ancestry in any interesting countries that I didn't know about. I could not have imagined that this information would set me on such an emotional journey.

Check back over the coming days and weeks to see what else I am learning and whether or not I am able to connect with any new family members!

PS The links above are affiliate links - but, as with anything I post about, you have my 100% enthusiastic endorsement of this test!


  1. Has Jared taken his test yet?

    1. Not yet! I might get him the kit for Father's Day.


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