Taking a DNA sample for DNA genealogy

Join the Hartley family surname project by clicking on the link:


filling in your details, selecting Y-DNA37 (or higher) from the dropdown box for the type of test and clicking Continue. Using this link gets you the Hartley project discount.

After a week or so you should receive a plastic mailer containing a small jiffy bag inside which is your DNA sample taking kit.

The kit consists of three cheek swabs, three sample storage vials, some instructions, a consent form and the pre-addressed jiffy bag to mail it all back to Family Tree DNA.

This is what the little plastic vial of special storage solution and the swab look like. The idea is that you use the three swabs at three different times of the day, say once in the morning, once before lunch (rather than after, or you'll be swabbing the remains of your lunch) and once before retiring for bed.
When you're ready to take a sample, unscrew the lid from the vial and set it down somewhere where you won't knock it over. I forgot to do this so I had to do it one-handed with my swab in the other hand. Notice that your vial has your own unique barcode on it.
Peel open the end of the swab with the stick sticking out (as opposed to the end that looks like a toothbrush) and remove it from the sterile packaging.
Being careful not to touch it against anything (so don't drop it), swab inside your cheek.
Rub the ribbed side of the cotton swab on the end of the stick up and down against the inside of your cheek. You don't need to rub really hard, but it does need to touch your cheek. Try to use the inside of the other cheek when you later do another swab.
The instructions say to do this for two full minutes. This is actually a really long time; my arm got pretty tired; the point is that you need to do a thorough swabbing.
If, like me you forgot to open the vial, open it now with your other hand. Don't put the swab down or it might get contaminated.
Put the swabbed end into the vial. The liquid in the vial is designed to protect your precious DNA from drying out in a sterile environment where it won't get too damaged by bacterial or mould growth whilst in the post back to Family Tree DNA.
Then, by pushing on the part sticking out of the end of the swab, gently slide the swab off the end of the stick so it falls into the vial. This is tricky to do
Screw the lid back on to the top of the vial. Repeat this two more times a good few hours apart until you have all three vials with samples. Taking three samples means that they can check the results if they get spurious answers, plus there's one extra in case of accidental contamination or data loss.

Sign and date the consent form and pop it and the three vials into the pre-addressed jiffy bag. Seal it down and take it to your post office.

Postage for me was £1.58 to get it to Texas.

I filled in a customs declaration saying it was a DNA sample weighing 20g worth nothing. Then I handed it to the post office clerk who put it into the mail.

Then I waited, and waited and waited. It took weeks for my sample to get to FTDNA but they emailed me when it arrived and they processed it bit by bit, keeping me informed of how it was all going.

Now I have my results.