When you take a DNA-test for genealogical purposes, don’t be surprised if you don’t find many Dutch matches. Because DNA testing isn’t very popular in the Netherlands, there will be few Dutch people in the databases. So not finding many Dutch matches doesn’t mean that your paper trail that shows a Dutch ancestor is wrong.
Why DNA testing isn’t popular in the Netherlands
I think there are several reasons for this:
- Many people are unaware of the possibilities that DNA can offer. If they heard of DNA testing, often it is just Y-chromome testing for the male line. Not many Dutch genealogists know about autosomal DNA testing and that women can test too.
- Dutch people care about their privacy. Many do not feel comfortable that their DNA is out there because they don’t know what will be done with it. People worry that if their data falls into the wrong hands, the medical information in their DNA may be used against them.
- It’s considered rude to ask people to test for you. Asking someone to take a DNA test to help you with your genealogy is like asking if you can read their private diary. It’s considered an intrusion of privacy and can harm the relationship with the person you asked, especially when asking people you don’t know when (distant cousins, for example).
- There aren’t any Dutch companies to test with. The major DNA testing companies are Ancestry, 23andMe, and FamilyTreeDNA. FamilyTreeDNA was the first to ship to the Netherlands, and at reasonable rates, so was a favorite among early Dutch testers. With choosing a testing company, privacy comes into play again: many Dutch people don’t trust the US with their personal data. The Snowden affair, which revealed just how much data the US is collecting, including data about European citizens in corporate databases, makes them wary of allowing an American corporation to have their data.
- Most Dutch people have pretty complete trees and don’t feel a pressing need to do DNA testing to solve brick walls. Dutch records are excellent, so most brick walls are at least six generations ago while autosomal DNA testing is most useful for the most recent generations. Also, adoptions are rare in the Netherlands, so few people are looking for their biological family.
Personally, I decided that the benefits for my research outweighed the risks and I tested at all four companies. Have you done a DNA test? Were you worried about privacy risks? Did you find any Dutch matches?