The information provided on this page is dedicated to a group of Mennonites known as the Low-German Mennonites. This is part of a larger Mennonite DNA Project with includes all Anabaptist groups of Dutch, German or Swiss descent. These include Amish, Hutterites, Old Order Mennonites and others. Anyone who belongs to the other groups and is interested in the DNA project should visit the Family Tree DNA Mennonite/Amish Project page.
Note that you must demonstrate that you have Low-German Mennonite ancestry in order to participate in this project.
The first phase of this project involves testing Y chromosome DNA, which is the DNA that is passed down from father to son. This is particularly useful since family names are also passed down from father to son. The second phase will also include mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) which is passed down from mother to child.
For more information on the Mennonite DNA project contact or .
1. Establish how many progenitors (common ancestors) there were for the present day Mennonite population.
2. Determine the number of progenitors there were for each present day Mennonite family name.
3. Use DNA results to aid in making genealogical connections within families.
4. Use DNA results to aid in making genealogical connections between families.
5. Look at the "deep ancestry" of the Low-German Mennonites.
There are three routes through which one can have DNA tests done as part of the Mennonite DNA project.
1. Commercially through Family Tree DNA.
There is a fee for testing and the company will keep you informed throughout the process and help you understand the results. Your results will come out about 2 months after they receive your sample. In order to get genealogically useful information from Y-DNA one must order either the 37 marker test (cost $139 US) or the 67 marker test (cost $248 US). The 67 marker test can be of help in specific situations. For mitochondrial DNA testing we suggest that you order either the mtDNAPlus test ($139 US) or the mtFullSequence test ($279 US). The mtFullSequence test is significantly better, if you can afford it, since it looks at the entire mitochondrial DNA sequence rather than only a portion of it as is the case with the mtDNAPlus test. Autosomal DNA testing is available for $289 using the Family Finder test. This test provides information similar to the 23andMe test (see below). Additional discounts are available if you place your order through the Mennonite DNA project. To order a DNA test through the Mennonite DNA project, click here: Order a sample kit.
2. Through the Sorenson Molecular Genetics Foundation.
Free testing through the SMGF is no longer available for people with Low German Mennonite ancestry as of July 2010. However, the SMGF is willing to store DNA samples from people of Mennonite ancestry if people pay a $19.50 fee for the extraction of the DNA. However, testing of the samples would not be done until further funds become available to the SMGF for testing. If you are interested in donating a DNA sample to the SMGF contact Glenn Penner or Tim Janzen. If you sent a kit to the SMGF prior to July 2010, you can expect a wait of at least 18 months for your results to appear in their databases. However, they will not directly provide you with your test results when they come out. Fortunately we have a way of extracting the results from their databases and are placing the results on this web site as they become available. If you send a sample kit to SMGF it is very important that you contact or and let them know that you have done so. If you have any questions about the status of your SMGF results please contact Glenn Penner or Tim Janzen.
3. Commercially through 23andMe.
23andMe is a company that offers a SNP panel test that tests 575,000 autosomal SNPs, 1800 Y chromosome SNPs, 14,000 X chromosome SNPs, and 300 mtDNA SNPs. The primary genealogical benefit of doing this test is that it allows one to see how closely any two people are related to each other on any line of descent through analysis of the autosomal SNP results. One of their features, Relative Finder, has been quite popular among genetic genealogists since it was released in October 2009. Additional analysis of the data from people with Mennonite ancestry is being placed at http://kquilting.homeserver.com/23andme/index.html. It would be helpful if you would share your 23andMe results with either Glenn Penner or Tim Janzen so that the results can be included in the analysis of the 23andMe data from other people of Mennonite ancestry. If you do the 23andMe test, it is recommended that you order the Complete Edition, since this is the only edition that allows you to download your 23andMe results. This test currently costs $499 for one kit or $449 if you buy 2 or more kits. Tim Janzen periodically coordinates group orders so that participants can get a discount on the test. If interested in participating in a group order, contact Tim Janzen.
Tim Janzen has written two sets of procedures that explain how to extract results from the SMGF Y-DNA database. One set of procedures uses the SMGF search screen interface (Instructions for extracting Y chromosome marker values from the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation Y chromosome database). The other uses a utility that was written by Leo Little (Instructions for extracting Y chromosome marker values from the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation Y chromosome database using Leo Little’s search utility). Experienced users will find that it is faster to extract results using Leo Little's utility, but some people may prefer the one that only uses the SMGF search screen interface.
Tim has also written instructions on how to extract results from the SMGF mitochondrial DNA database.
There are currently Y-DNA results available for 805 men of Low-German Mennonite descent. Deviations (usually from the average) are highlighted in yellow. The results for those who are descended from brothers are grouped together and the names of the brothers are highlighted in purple.
Y DNA Results
Explanation of Y DNA Results by Tim Janzen
Explanation of mtDNA Results by Tim Janzen
The Mennonite Genealogy page
For those who want to learn more about DNA testing for genealogical purposes:
Genealogical DNA forums:
Page updated 19 April 2012; html by Richard D. Thiessen