Frequently Asked Questions
How much does this service cost?
See Pricing section for latest prices. Prices vary depending on the type of item, and is in two phases, Phase 1 (“quantification”) and Phase 2 (sequencing).
Is there a discount for sending more than one item?
No, because the cost of chemicals, equipment, and staff are basically the same for each item.
Is there a guarantee of results?
No, there can’t be. There are many reasons why we might not find enough usable DNA.
Will you test anything for free?
In most cases, no, because we have to pay for the chemicals, etc. There were two items presented to us at RootsTech that we would test for free because they were 1) an artifact of historical significance, and 2) evidence of a possible murder. Feel free to run something past us if you think we might be intrigued.
Can you test more than envelopes?
Yes. The lab has three ex-crime lab experts; they are creative at finding sources of DNA.
Can you test hair?
Yes, but it’s trickier and requires a more extensive sample if it is rootless. If the hair has roots – for example, if it came from a brush or curlers – that’s pretty straightforward. In some cases, we may recommend mitochondrial testing rather than autosomal for rootless hair.
Can you test jewelry?
Yes, but you will want to be confident that the item has not been excessively handled by others and that DNA on it likely belongs to your ancestor. Best sources include earring posts, watches, necklaces worn close to the skin, and rings.
Can you test cigarettes, pipes, etc.?
Can you test ______?
We’ve had many questions about whether we can test particular items. We are happy to answer any individual inquiries about items. Email us at email@example.com. We may post your question (without identifying information) and our response on our Facebook page.
How far back can you go?
As with many things, the answer is “it depends.” We have obtained usable DNA profiles from envelopes dating back to the 1860s – but we have also been unable to get profiles from much more recent samples. Many factors affect the result, especially the amount of DNA that was originally deposited on the item and the conditions under which it was stored.
How long will it take to get my results?
There is no set time. In order to keep costs as low as we can, we have asked the lab to just plug our samples in with other plates they are running. For example, if the lab has 80 samples from law enforcement and is running a 96-sample plate, we will ask the lab to include 16 of Keepsake’s samples. If we happen to have 96 Keepsake samples at one time, then we can fill our own plate and it will be faster.
Can I ask for expedited testing?
Yes. If you want to surprise someone for a birthday, or you feel some other urgency, you can contact us and ask about the availability and cost of an expedite.
Why can you get results when others have failed?
1) The lab has the most expensive state-of-the-art equipment in the world, including a key piece that was not certified and available until mid-2019. This was done because most of the lab’s work is done for other clients, such as law enforcement, courts, and attorneys who require the most up-to-date technology. 2) The lab has been working closely with the owner of GEDmatch for nearly a year. 3) Lab personnel are top notch former crime lab employees with years of experience getting DNA from tricky sources. 4) Before going public, KeepsakeDNA paid for extensive testing, including a study by the lab as to the best method of extracting usable DNA from envelopes.
How do I know my ancestors licked the envelope?
Unfortunately, you don’t. It could be a neighbor, friend, postal worker, etc. Our service is basically for desperate people (like us).
Who are you?
We are just a “Mom” operation. It’s Mom (Betty Porter) with occasional help from daughter (Karra Porter). We don’t have any employees or administrative help. (Obviously the lab has employees but we don’t ask their valuable time with administrative things.) So we’ll do the best we can in hoping to change the genealogical world.