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A sale on mtDNA tests

There’s a sale going on right now at Family Tree DNA on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) tests.

mt.saleUntil midnight central time tomorrow night — Monday, August 31 — you can get 20 percent off on mtDNA tests through Family Tree DNA.

This is not a test to do if all you’re thinking about is finding new cousins to compare your family history with or what your possible athnic origins might be. That would be one of the autosomal DNA tests, like Family Finder from FTDNA or the test from AncestryDNA or 23andMe.

And this is not a test to do if what you’re thinking about is tracing your surname — your father’s father’s father’s line. That would be the YDNA test from Family Tree DNA.

But if you have a specific family mystery on the maternal side of your family, this is a test that can put it to rest for once and for all. It’s a test that looks deep into your mother’s mother’s mother’s side of your family tree.1 And despite the fact that it’s a bit of a pricy test — the full mitochondrial sequence will be $159.20 even after the discount is applied — it’s worth its weight in gold if mtDNA can answer that question for you.

What question?

Well, you might remember a minor little issue from 2013 about the identification of some bones found under a parking lot in Leicester, England. Could it be, everyone wondered, that the final resting place of Richard III had been found? It was mtDNA testing that provided the DNA piece to the evidentiary puzzle: by comparing the mtDNA in the bones to mtDNA of direct maternal-line descendants of Richard’s mother, Cecily Neville, it was possible to determine that the skeleton was that of the English king.2

And it works for ordinary people, too. One way that The Legal Genealogist was able to use it for was disproving an old family story in one branch of my Gentry family about my third great grandmother being a full-blood Catawba tribeswoman from North Carolina. Had that story been true, then all of this woman’s direct maternal-line descendants would have had a Native American mitochondrial haplotype. And tests proved that wasn’t the case.3

Another way you can use mtDNA is to determine which of two wives you may descend from if you know a particular ancestor was married more than once and you’re not sure which wife is in your line. Since all of the direct maternal line descendants will have the mtDNA of the wife they descend from, then as long as you can find candidates to test in that direct maternal line (the son or daughter of a daughter of a daughter of a daughter, for example), you can slot yourself into the right wife’s family.

So if you have a family history mystery that can be solved by mtDNA, now is the time to act. Go get those tests done — and save 20% in the process. Just place your order and pay before 11:59 PM Central Time August 31, 2015.


  1. See ISOGG Wiki (, “Mitochondrial DNA tests,” rev. 24 Aug 2015.
  2. See Judy G. Russell, “Rewriting history through DNA,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 3 Feb 2013, and “And the answer is…,” posted ( : accessed 28 Aug 2015).
  3. See ibid., “No, no NA,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 23 Aug 2015.
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