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NMGS DNA Project:

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the program about? 

Created in January 2015, the NMGS Genetic Genealogy Program’s goal is to validate genealogies and learn more about the DNA associated with the ancestral lines in the genealogies. We also share these findings with the New Mexico genealogical community in various formats. This is done by testing and analyzing Y-DNA and mtDNA results and their associated genealogies.


Why should I get a DNA test? 

It is a useful tool to validate your genealogical paper trail. It is also a tool to see what surnames you match. If you are stuck in your genealogical research it can also be a tool to help work on that brick wall. 


What type of test should I get? 

Males carry both Y-DNA and mtDNA, thus can test for both. A female can only test her mtDNA. Both males and females can test autosomal DNA (the Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA).


What is Y-DNA? 

Y-DNA (Y chromosome) is the male inherited DNA. It goes from the male tested, to his father, to his father, and up the male line.


What is mtDNA? 

mtDNA (Mitochondrial DNA) is the female inherited DNA. It goes from the child (male or female) to the mother, to her mother, to her mother, and up the female line. 


Can I use Family Finder results? 

A person who only tests a Family Finder can join the project but DO NOT benefit from the genealogical validations such as those with the Y-DNA and mtDNA.


The results of this test (also known as “autosomal” testing) contain inherited DNA from BOTH of your parents that are passed down through the generations.


All people that appear on the results list are cousins, from one side or the other, and some are more distant than others, determined by the cM (centiMorgan number).


A person who only has Family Finder results can easily upgrade to a Y-DNA or mtDNA test (or both) and become eligible for the benefits our project offers.  


Can I transfer my test results from other companies? 

Autosomal DNA can be transferred from 23andMe as well as from


The 23andMe program offers Y-DNA and mtDNA but those can’t be transferred to FTDNA.  


Currently, Ancestry only offers autosomal DNA tests but did test Y-DNA several years ago. Y-DNA from Ancestry can be transferred to FTDNA but only short tandem repeat (STR) data can be analyzed so matching has to be done manually. This makes the process harder and more time consuming.


Keep in mind that only your results (data) will transfer, NOT the actual DNA sample. You will still need to purchase a new test from FTDNA for any additional testing or upgrades.


Visit the FTDNA autosomal page for more info:  


What is a Haplogroup?

DNA is organized into groups of genes known as haplogroups.  They are different for males (Y-DNA) and females (mtDNA). 


Haplogroup naming begins with a letter and then followed by numbers such as R-M269 (or previously known as R1b). They have been segmented to point out various genetic groups across the world. 


These haplogroups tell us about the ancient history of the line tested going back many generations in time. This is known as anthropological DNA.


The haplogroups can be further divided into many subgroups (sub-clades) and that is how we get our DNA matching tools. It is the more recent common DNA (STR, sequence) matching that we use for our project. 


Why does each DNA grouping have so many associated surnames? 

The naming conventions back in early Spain, for example, allowed the first-born son to carry the family surname, and then the next male son possibly took the grandmother’s middle name, etc.  


By the time you get to today, hundreds of years have passed and there are numerous surnames associated with a DNA group.  That is why this project was created – combining test results and family genealogy will take us back in time to figure out who “owns” the DNA.   


Different surname matching can also be the result of adoptions, illegitimate births, as well as many other historical family groupings that were undocumented.


What are the requirements to join the NMGS DNA project? 

Anybody can join, as long as you had either a Y-DNA (male lineage) or an mtDNA (female lineage) test done.


Again, just doing a FamilyFinder test is not sufficient to join the project. 


Two documents will be required which you must submit.


A.  A JOIN form. 


The JOIN form gives permission to the level of sharing NMGS is allowed per the given test and genealogy.

B.  A GENEALOGY form. 

The genealogy form should start with the person tested, then their parents, then grandparents going back as far possible for the tested line, either Y-DNA, mtDNA or both.


A separate form for Y-DNA and mtDNA is required since they represent different genealogical lineages.

The more information you provide, the better we can compare between matches. Your GENEALOGY form will then be reviewed and validated by a team of volunteers.


Do I have to be an NMGS member to join the project? 

Yes. The admins have the discretion to allow someone to join without being a society member if their results are key to a specific study or are sponsored by a society member. 


To join the page, see the “Membership” tab. 


Does the NMGS DNA project publish articles in their quarterly journal?

The journal has been the primary method for getting DNA results out to participants. We strive to publish at least one article per journal on DNA findings. 


The member must have signed the JOIN approval form so that we can use their genealogy and test results in the article.


Other questions? 

This FAQ page will continue to grow. If you have a question that you’d like to see on this page as it’ll help others, send an email to

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