Whether you are just starting with a Surname Project, or have just ordered a test for you to learn about DNA testing for genealogy, everyone experiences the situation of receiving the first test result, and what now? You have one test result, and what do you do with a string of 12, 25 or 37 numbers? Can they tell you anything?
In the situation of the one or first test result, most likely you will not find others to whom you are related. The odds of a random match to someone to whom you are related when you are the first of your surname to test are slim. However, you might find some clues to your ethnic origin.
To find clues about your ethnic origin, log into FamilyTreeDna.com, and at your Personal Page click on Recent Ethnic Origins to search this data base. The results show others whom you match, or who are a near match, and their ancestor's ethnic origin.
The information on an individualís ethnic origin is provided by each test participant. The information provided for ethnic origin is only as accurate as the knowledge held by the testee regarding their ancestors. Participants in a Surname Project are instructed to answer unknown for ethnic origin when their ancestor's origin is not known, or not certain. Sometimes the origin the participant provided is incorrect. Incorrect origins provided by testers may lead to search results that do not seem logical. For example: Assume your ancestors are from England, but your search results show the ethnic origin of your matches as England, France, AND one match shows an origin of Native American. Does that mean that your ancestorís relatives may have lived in England and France? Yes.
Does it mean that your ancestor was also a Native American? No. It means that a settler in America had a child with a Native American woman, the child was brought up as a Native American, and that, over time, the family has "forgotten" the European ancestor, and believes their ancestry to be Native American.
Over the span of generations people tend to move, as do borders, so nationality or ethnicticity becomes subjective. For example, a test participant may enter Germany for ethnic origin, because the land of their ancestors is in Germany today, but the land had been held by Denmark for many centuries.
Your search should return via the FTDNA database should show at least one match, namely yourself. If your results show 3 matches from Ireland and 1 from Scotland, and you have reported to FTDNA that your ancestors came from Scotland, then you are the Scotland result. The other 3 matches are either from the Family Tree DNA database or from the databases we have been supplied by the University of Arizona.
To see how your ethnic origin is recorded in the FTDNA database, click on the link titled Update Contact Information on your Personal Page. You can also update your paternal and maternal ethnic origin on this Update Contact Information page.
Exact matches show people who are the closest to you genetically. The Ethnic origin shows where they have been reported to have lived. Since many persons migrated since the beginning of time, you will typically see matches in more than one country.
For information purposes, the Recent Ethnic Origin search also displays results for those who are not exact matches, but are 'near matches'. A near match is either one step or two steps from your result. An exact match is 12/12 25/25 or 37/37. A one step match is 11/12 24/25 or 36/37. A two step match is 10/12 23/25 or 35/37. The value of the near matches is to see where those who may be related migrated over time.